ANINDITA ACHARYA, Kolkata: It was on the sets of filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly’s Kishore Kumar Junior that Prosenjit Chatterjee had told Chandrasish Ray to think seriously about becoming a director and had asked him to write a script. The assistant director to Ganguly was taken aback given the offer had come from the numero uno of Bengali cinema. Prosenjit was moved by the script of Chandrasish’s Nirontor where he plays Biplab, a middle-aged civil engineer, who along with his young project assistant Bhaskar (Satyam Bhattacharya) have been assigned the responsibility of hunting a location for a new resort in an exotic but remote mountain range. The film will premiere on Zee Bangla at 3 pm on Sunday. It will also stream on ZEE5. During the lockdown, Prosenjit is watching a lot of content on OTT platforms. Though he says it will take some time for the audience to return to the theatres in the new normal, the Kakababur Protyaborton actor firmly believes that cinema halls have a different magic, and that will never change. “Even after 100 years, it will remain the same,” he tells us. From shooting with Vikramaditya Motwane, life in quarantine to Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay, we chat with Prosenjit Chatterjee.
How is the quarantine period treating you?
It’s not a holiday. We all are in quarantine not only for our families, but for the world. That’s our duty. When we stay alone, a lot of ideas come to us, and we can discuss them with our team. But then, we also need to implement those ideas in reality. Now, the question is when and how? Having said that, we need to remain positive. We should trust God … he will show us the way. The entire world economy is crashing, the future of the kids are at stake, people are losing jobs everywhere…this is not a World War… this is beyond everything. But we need wait and watch.
The Bengali television actors have started shooting. So, when will the Bengali film actors and directors return to the shooting floors?
Here, we must understand that shooting for OTT, films and TV require a different setting and preparation. A number of technicians have gone back to work, thanks to the resumption of TV shooting in Bengal. But in case of TV, you can work with 3-4 actors and take close-ups of those actors. However, in case of films, you need to scout for real locations and you cannot take only close-up shots. And once you shoot an episode of a serial, you can telecast on TV. But when it comes to film, the ultimate success depends on the theatres. So, at this point of time, none but God knows when the situation will normalize.
Do you think audience will enter the cinema theatres when they reopen in the ‘new normal’?
We will have to accept that the virus is a part of our lives now. And may be, the audience will not step into the theatres on the very first day. But then, people are going out in this pandemic… we will have to deal with the virus till the vaccine arrives.
It was on the set of director Kaushik Ganguly’s Kishore Kumar Junior that you had asked Chandrasish Ray, who was assisting the filmmaker, if he wanted to direct a movie. And that’s how Nirontor (The Prologue) happened?
I had watched a short film, Dugga, of Chandrasish, which made the cut at the Indian Panorama at 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). So, when I was doing films with Kaushik Ganguly, and Chandrasish was assisting him, I told him to seriously think about direction. And when he narrated him the script of Nirontor, I was highly impressed. The language was very different. There are certain films, which are not commercially viable when they release at the theatres. But they fare extremely well on the OTT platforms. Nirontor is one such film, which the audience will remember when the language of cinema will change. And Chandrasish will make it big in the future.
Nirontor will premiere both on television and OTT on June 28.
Yes, it will have its world premiere on Zee Bangla and Zee5 on Sunday. Initially, the channel wanted it to premiere the film in January. But then, we wanted it to send it some festivals. After February, we were unable to tell them how long the wait will be. But I am happy that the film is releasing on TV and OTT. Also, in the future, we will at least release Nirontor even if for a few days at the theatres.
In the lockdown, OTT platforms were the only source of entertainment for the public. But do you think, OTT platforms will ever replace the big screen experience?
Different kinds of films appeal to different kind of audience and we need to channelize our products (read films) accordingly. There are different avenues or lanes and in which lane a particular product will flow depends on the content and the consumer. We need to understand that Nirontor will not have the kind of audience like a Kakababu film. In Mumbai, we don’t hear the names of some films till they release on OTT and some movies are made only for OTT. We are extremely happy that people have appreciated the trailer of Nirontor. The film will leave a different kind of taste after it finishes. And cinema halls have a different magic, and that will never change. Even after 100 years, it will remain the same.
You have always worked with new directors, be it Gaurav Pandey in Hanuman.com or Abhishek Saha in your production Uronchondi.
Srijit Mukherji was a first-time director when he made Autograph in 2010. In my entire career, I have worked with 35-40 new filmmakers. It’s not always the question of money. Of course, it is important. But as an industry person, there are two selves… one is that of an actor and another that of a producer that I continuously nurture. When I am producing a new content, be it on TV or film, I try to rope in fresh names. It adds to the industry.
You were supposed to start shooting for a web series for Vikramaditya Motwane.
If the coronavirus lockdown wasn’t announced, I would have started shooting by April and by now, I would have finished it.
And you are also doing two films with Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay and Nandita Roy?
I am part of their Haami 2, which got postponed due to lockdown. And yes, I am supposed to do another film with them.