Monday, January 5, 2015

Amitabh Bachchan never got a good script in his life: Buddhedeb Dasgupta

 Amitabh Bachchan never got a good script in his life: Buddhedeb Dasgupta

His Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa is yet to release, but that hasn't deterred him from starting work on his next. As auteur filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta gears up to adapt Narayan Gangopadhyay's Tope (bait), he tells us how love still makes his world go round. And yes, he is madly, desperately and hopelessly in love with cinema. Excerpts:

Barring a few success stories, mostly towards the end of the year, Tollywood almost had a dull 2014.You must be aware...
I get to hear, see and also understand that Bengali films are not working.It's not a recent development. At least it's not something that happened last year. Maybe the failure got noticed in 2014. I feel the audience is sick and tired. We are doing the same old things. There are too many repetitions and absolutely nothing new on offer.

What do you think is ailing the film industry?

Fear psychosis. The existence of us as filmmakers is at stake all the time. You need to keep proving a point, but then who has asked you to do so? Why are you repeating the same stuff ? When we started out, we were fearless. We started as beggars and knew nothing could get worse. I was teaching, while many like Tarunda (Majumdar) used to work. Our demands were very less. What we had was love. We were in love with cinema so much that we could put everything at stake. It's the same love that keeps me alive today . There was enough scope for compromise. I was told many tricks of the trade that could help me stay afloat. See, Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa has not released yet. The producer has many issues. He just got the film censored. So, how am I thinking of another film? It's love. There is a film, Conductor, about a violinist in a Polish orchestra, whose husband is the director of the ensemble. On a visit to the US, she ties up with a renowned symphony conductor. The conductor was once in love with the violinist's mother. The husband resents the conductor and in the end, when she leaves him, she says, you loved publicity, you loved money, but did you love music? Tomorrow, I don't want people to point fingers at us and say the same thing. Till date, I have never played safe with my films and I haven't lost anything.

What do feel about more and more people from the industry getting involved in politics? If you really are a believer of a political philosophy, you have every right to join rallies. But if you are a nonbeliever and are supporting a party for your personal gain, then that's the worst thing possible. I couldn't disagree when Mir referred to some as jhinku mamoni. These days, people seem to have lost their selfrespect. Goutam Ghose is a dear friend of mine. He has made many good films. He was on stage at the inauguration of the film festival. No one thought it was necessary to mention his name. Why should he be just sitting at a festival that celebrates cinema? I'm reminded of a film, Mephisto by Istvan Szabo, which was about how the establishment used the civil society to its advantage and when the purpose was served, shunned it.

Is that affecting our cinema?
 
A filmmaker is a creator. And self-respect is the biggest asset of a creative person. If you lose that, you lose respect for your creative ability. CM Mamata Banerjee sends me a letter every year on my birthday . But that's about it. I have not taken anything, never given anything. I stick to my philosophy . I don't need anything. I have books, poems, music to fall back on. I write a lot, contribute to magazines, take part in discussions and feel bad when I can't make films. But just because that makes me upset, I won't compromise.

You've always waged a war against the celebration of mediocrity...
 
Mediocrity was always there. Like self-respect was. Today , I find it difficult to communicate with others.It's not possible for everyone to be talented. But one needs to be at peace with his strengths and weaknesses. I think Anjan (Dutt) is a wonderful actor. We share a personal rapport. Mrinalda (Sen) and I had almost cast him together. But Mrinalda started Chalchitra first. I have seen Dutta vs Dutta and think it's one of his best films. But I have something against the constant fear that I see around me. Why hide behind Byomkesh? There are so many things to do. In Mumbai, films are now made on a budget of Rs 20 lakh. Resul Pookutty made a film with Rs 18 lakh. He is now taking it to festivals. Look at how well Lunch Box did. These films are getting sold in foreign markets. When Buddhadeb babu (Bhattacharjee) was still there, I had requested that the Rabindra Bhavans in the districts be used as theatres. There would be one programme in two months.Pigeons would fly around during daytime and miscreants would flock at night. Young and talented filmmakers like Praditpa Bhattacharyya, Indranil Roychowdhury and many others are coming up. I know Aditya Vikram Sengupta is doing well for himself. They need to show their films as well. Earlier, films could be screened at Nandan. Now, shows at Nandan depend a lot on your political inclinations.

When you mentioned Byomkesh, did you mean filmmakers have stopped experimenting?

They are going back to the safe zone. I saw Sandip's (Ray) Chaar; it was very nice. Why go back to Feluda? If in a few years, when all the Feluda stories get exhausted, then what? Will a filmmaker stop directing movies? What if no Byomkesh story is left to be made tomorrow? The world over, people are thinking in a different language. If you don't go with the flow, you will fall short.I have nothing against Feluda. I am his great admirer, but I don't think you should go on and on... When Santosh Dutta passed away , Satyajit Ray said he won't make further Feluda movies. There was only one Santosh Dutta. Why can't we think on similar lines? Satyajit Ray and I were both in Venice when he once told me how the audience abroad had come out of the theatre with long faces having watched Kanchenjungha. This is the same audience that lapped up The Apu Trilogy. Many said, why are the characters speaking in English, why do they look like foreigners? But Satyajit Ray, having fought all odds, created a space for himself that no one can fill up. Ritwik Ghatak's Ajantrik was one of his earlier films. It's about a man's relationship with a car and what a film that was! Why can't we think? Why this fear? My first film Durotto had a successful run. So, there is an audience. But why should they watch movies that don't hold them for more than 10 minutes?

Which Bengali films did you watch in recent times?
 
I saw Anjan's Sesh Boley Kichhu Nei and didn't think it was bad. Tony's (Aniruddha Roychowdhury) last film (Buno Haansh) was also a good attempt. Srijit's (Mukherji) Chotushkone is an intelligent movie. I also liked Shekhar Das's Nayanchampar Dinratri. But I strongly feel that people need to go beyond tried-and-tested storylines. If tomorrow, someone asks me to make a film with Rs 16 crore, I will say no. I will not be able to give back the money to my producer. I make a film on Rs 1.5 crore, my producer gets back thrice the money. If a film gets sold abroad, I get a part of that money. He's happy, so am I. To make a movie run is more expensive than filming it. Dev's movies are not working, those without Dev are also not working. Why don't we take stories from news clips instead? Directors are increasingly getting tangled in the thought of drawing crowds to the theatre and the noose is tightening around their necks. In Mumbai, people are still trying. I don't know what is wrong with this state. Countries like Thailand are churning out great films, which are going to Cannes, winning awards, getting sold. Again, not everyone can be part of the `100-crore club; for that you need calibre. Whenever Ashutosh Gowariker is in Kolkata, he meets me. He was telling me how difficult it has become for a filmmaker to sustain in today's time. I am thinking of the future. I don't have many years ahead of me, but I don't want to lose myself in this rat race.

Your next is Narayan Gangopadhyay's Tope (bait)...

The film is in pre-production. Like always, I have started writing the script in Bengali, but I'm not sure if I'll make the film in Bangla. Also, there are not too many actors here. I need to work with new actors. I was very confused during Anwar, as I felt no one could play the character better than Nawazuddin Siddiqui.He is one of those you can draw inspiration from. And as a filmmaker, I am forever looking for inspiration. When he came for the workshop, he thought I will act out the scenes, but I just spoke to him.People need to watch the film. But the kind of money the producer is looking at is not logical. Nawaz is an actor of great calibre, but you can't sell a film that has just him. Add a Khan to it and the market will increase. The producers and distributors in Mumbai are not interested to see how good he is as an actor; they'll see the saleability . Amitabh Bachchan is my friend, I'm grateful to him. But he never got a great script all his life. Aamir (Khan) is very good, but where is the script that can explore his talent to the fullest? They fail to understand that what they are getting and doing are not tapping their full potential. About my new film, I have already spoken to Nawaz though nothing has been finalized as yet. I love Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan's acting and want to work with them someday . 

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