Posted June 06, 2013 under Director's Cut By Preetha Banerjee

Kamaleshwar Mukherjee: "As a filmmaker I believe in experimenting"

Kamaleshwar Mukherjee:
Kamaleshwar Mukherjee:

doctor by profession, a theatrecian by passion, Kamaleshwar Mukherjee has recently realized how sweet success tastes, with his two films, ‘Notobor Not Out’ and ‘Uro Chithi’. As his much-awaited and talked-about film, ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ is set for a June release, Tollywood Dhamaka decodes the various controversial elements that make up this movie starting from its poster to it’s very last sequence in a chit-chat with the man himself:

Congratulations on the completion of your film! On the posters that have been released, there is a subtitle right beneath the name of the film which says: “Tumi gechho. Spardha gechhe. Binoy esechhe”. What does this signify?

Thank you! These lines are actually taken from a verse named “Ritwik” by Shakti Chattopadhyay who happens to be one of my favourite poets. The poem revolves around the illustrious Ritwik Ghatak himself and conveys to the readers how the society has suffered a huge loss with the demise of Ghatak because no one remains to question the social norms with the kind of arrogance and courage that he used to and a compromising attitude has taken its place. I felt these lines were perfectly blending with the essence of my film so I decided to incorporate them in the poster as well as in parts of the film.

The kind of projects that you are handling now are quite different from your earlier ones which were essentially set in a more contemporary time-frame and based on an urban meta-narrative. Why this shift to period films/adaptations?

As a filmmaker I believe in experimenting with not only the filmmaking techniques, but also the story lines. I would never stick to one particular genre of cinema. Moreover, the idea of a film of Ghatak was conceived way earlier than any of my films that have been released so far. I have always been fascinated by his work and always bore this urge to explore his creativity and make a film out of it.

Was Ghatak your only inspiration?

No. I was equally fascinated by Satyajit Ray, Kurosawa, Andrei Tarkovsky and other such remarkable filmmaking geniuses. But, Ghatak’s life and career had certain immense dramatic points which I found easier to express in the language of cinema to produce a gripping narrative. I have always been fascinated by his revolutionary attitude – he had been a victim of the Bengal partition and had been involved with the communist party of India. His endeavours regarding cinema though met with a lot of hurdles, proved to be undaunted and this really stirred me.

So how does the movie revolve around the life of Ghatak?

The movie is the thought-space of a creative mind. The protagonist, Nilkantha Bagchi (played by Saswata Chatterjee) moves the story ahead with his experiences of the past and what he will see in the coming years – it is an account of his whole life. The character is inspired by the life of Ghatak in a mental asylum where he writes and produces a play with the other inmates named “Shei Meye”. There are sequences of him hanging out with his friends Mrinal Sen, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and others at the renowned ‘Paradise Café’.  The protagonist is also an extension of the character by the same name played by Ghatak himself in his film, “Jukti Takko ar Gappo”. Thus it is a fictional narration of his life-story.

There is a scene in the film where you have shown that the book, “How to be a Good Communist” is being burnt. What did you want to signify by this?

There was a time in Ghatak’s life when he, though a staunch communist, became dissatisfied by the compromising attitude of the communist leaders. It was in this time, in 1969, when the CRP had raided the asylum and that is where I have placed this sequence you are talking about to highlight the mental condition of Ghatak.

The whole film is in black and white scheme but the final sequence has been shot in colour. How would you justify this?

That has been done for a special purpose because that is when the film reaches its crescendo. Divulging the secret would make the scene lose its charm so I’ll not give out more about this before the film is released!

And finally, how is the shooting of ‘Chader Pahar’ progressing and why did you choose Dev over Parambrata for the role of Shankar?

The first half of the shoot in Africa is complete but the weather there doesn’t allow us to shoot the next half before august because it is winter there now. The people of Johannesburg advised us to schedule our shoot in august when the weather will be milder and we have taken their words seriously. About the controversy regarding Dev playing the protagonist, I always had him in mind for the role but there were some members of the production unit who had opted for Parambrata but finally Dev was selected unanimously.


Meghe Dhaka Tara – 2013 under Shree Venkatesh Films releases across theaters on 14th June 2013.

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