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In the world of Buddha

RANJAN DAS GUPTA

Acclaimed director Buddhadeb Das Gupta speaks about his forthcoming film “Janala” and the themes he chooses for his works.

Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Master of surrealism Buddhadeb Dasgupta in Kolkata.

Buddhadeb Das Gupta is busy preparing for the shooting of “Janala” (The Window) his latest experimental film for Reliance Entertainment. The film goes on the floors in Kolkata in early September. The director, who was in a relaxed mood at his Jodhpur Park residence, said in an interview to this journalist, “It is about a window presented to a small town school by one of its very successful ex-students. The student, though leading a different life than his childhood days, has not forgotten his memorable school days where he spent many years of his childhood.” The window in the film, according to Buddhadeb, is neither a metaphor, nor a symbol. The film speaks through the window around which the story is woven.

He has chosen Indranil Sen Gupta, Swastika Mukherjee and Tapas Pal to play key roles in “Janala”. “The film is based on this student, a fresh young girl and a thief of different nature. In Indranil’s face I found a rare combination of intelligence and innocence. Swastika is photogenic and has good histrionic potential. Tapas Pal is ideal as the thief as the character requires certain amount of maturity and subtlety. I have earlier worked with Tapas in Uttara and he is a powerful actor,” added Buddhadeb.

What happened to Atul Kulkarni and Sonali Kulkarni about whom he had thought of earlier? Buddhadeb clarified, “I did think of them earlier. Both are mature and sensitive actors. But after completing my entire shooting script, I felt they did not exactly fit the bill. Of course, I will work with them later. Indranil is an Ahmedabad-based Bengali who works in Mumbai. His Bengali has a Hindi accent but that should not create any problems. I will work specially on his diction and dialogue delivery. He is hard working and ready to undergo rigorous rehearsals. Swastika is well suited for her character.”

The director whom the entire nation considers the most innovative and versatile after Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, loves to experiment with surrealism, moving images and unexplored aspects of living. “I do not follow the narrative structure of film making. If you ask me I can never define my school of cinema. I don’t want to. It is for my audience to decide which school and pattern I am best at,” said the director. He strongly feels, “Surrealism is not exactly realism but near to it. Thus surrealism does not have an eternal impact as it is not reality.” Surrealism is stronger in paintings than in films.

Declining standards

In the past three decades, Buddhadeb Das Gupta has earned ample national and international acclaim with his films like “Duratwa”, “Andhi Gali”, “Phera”, “Lal Darja” and “Chara Char”. The man who does not believe in commenting about the works of his contemporaries and juniors, lamented, “The standards of Bengali cinema have deteriorated drastically in the past decade. Hardly do the viewers remember any Bengali film of recent times. Observe the films of Rajen Tarafdar, Asit Sen, Tapan Sinha and Ajay Kar. Not all of them are classics. But surely meaningful films with strong storylines, aesthetics and rich cinematic values. The best films in India were made in Bengali in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The works of V. Shantaram, Guru Dutt, Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani are landmarks of Hindi cinema.”

“Had I not been the chairman of the jury for National Film Awards this time may be an actor of Soumitra Chatterjee’s calibre would have gone unnoticed and neglected again.”, said the veteran director.

What according to him is a classic performance on screen? He smiled, “A classic performance is the one by Balraj Sahni in ‘Garam Hawa’ and also that of Chabi Biswas in ‘Jalsaghar’. Even Ingrid Bergman in ‘Joan Of Arc’ is an example of a classic performance. Actors of exceptional calibre do not overact or under-act.”

After the path-breaking “Andhi Gali” and the critically acclaimed “Bagh Bahadur”, Buddhadeb Das Gupta will be directing a Hindi film early next year for seasoned actress Jaya Prada. He does not want to disclose details at the moment. “I have always wanted to make an offbeat Hindi film. And I will do so again,” he concluded.

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