The film bug bit him quite early and this is the reason why he left his lucrative corporate job to pursue his career in film making. If you are wondering who I am referring to, he is none other than director Manoj Michigan. Hello Kolkata, Damadol and now his latest film 89, the director is carving a place for himself in Tollywood. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent engaged the director in a candid conversation on his films and future planning.
Manoj Michigan– Well I completed my MBA and continued with my job for eight long years. The film bug had bit me right when I was a kid but it was in 2004 when I met Bappa Da (Bappaditya Bandopadhyay) and he asked me to work with him. It was a great learning experience as I received hands-on-training in film making from him. Though his style of film making is different from mine, it was an eye opening experience for sure.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Hello Kolkata, Damadol and now 89- Why is there a huge gap between the films?
Manoj Michigan– I was being approached for making remakes of South films and Bollywood films. I was not interested. And hence I was looking for a producer who will be financing my kind of films.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Tell us something about the film 89.
Manoj Michigan– Ambition for success at any cost leads to psychological conditions in people. Purba (Raima Sen) goes through a journey of incidents filled with X-factors and she starts exploring the sequences to arrive at the cause of her mental turmoil, an unexplained problem. 89 is a journey of numbers from the past. The name of the film 89 is also interesting and audiences will understand it when they will watch the film.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Why did you select a crime thriller as your next film?
Manoj Michigan– I love the genre of comedy and thriller in films. This is simply the reason why I selected thriller as my next film after the last film Damadol which was essentially a comedy film.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Do you have any idols in the comedy and thriller genre?
Manoj Michigan– Well, I like the films made by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and also Rohit Shetty. Ram Gopal Verma’s earlier films on thriller also served as an inspiration for me. Silence of the lambs is one Hollywood film which has a great role to play in shaping my ideas about the thriller genre. I will also like to mention the name of Kaushik Ganguly whose latest film Apur Pachali has also served as a great inspiration for me. The narrative style shown is excellent.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– You have worked with Saswata Chatterjee in Damadol. How was the experience of working with him again in 89?
Manoj Michigan– Apu Da (Saswata Chatterjee) is a versatile actor. Give him any role and he will make it his own. Even when I was writing the character of Sabyasachi played by Apu da, I had him in my mind. He has made many additions to the character that I had initially conceived. He is actually a great help for me on the sets.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– How was the experience of directing Raima Sen and Shataf Figar?
Manoj Michigan– When I first met Raima, I thought she will have lot of airs and she will be behaving like a star but on the contrary I found her to be very professional and down to Earth. She asked me what I wanted from her as Purba. She threw no tantrums and was very cooperative. After a shot was over, she used to go on giggling about some issue or the other.
As far as Shataf is concerned, he has been working in theatres for quite some time now. I just had to brush him about the way to act in front of a camera. He is hard working and he learnt fast. I am extremely happy with him.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Supriyo Dutta is the DOP of this film after Damadol. Is there any specific reason of selecting him again?
Manoj Michigan– We both think on the same lines. I gel well with him. He is a tremendous value addition to my team. What I want he understands very well. Hence I cannot think of anyone else.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Raja Narayan Deb has composed the music of the film. Tell us something about the music of 89…
Manoj Michigan– I loved the background score that he created in C/O Sir. I wanted the music in my film to increase the pace and the thrill element. The music, especially the background score is a character in this film. The film just has a single song.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– You are turning producer with this film. What are the challenges and the pressures that you are facing?
Manoj Michigan– My MBA course is coming in use now (laughs out loud). Jokes apart I have been making plans so I do not freak out. Hence there was less of crisis situations. Moreover I was the crisis manager on Bappa da’s set, so I am used to handling crisis. As a producer I will like to organize a world premiere for my film.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– After 89, what are the projects that you have in the pipeline?
Manoj Michigan– There are three stories on which talks are going on. Since it is too early, I do not want to divulge much.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– There is a recent rise among Tollywood directors to make films on Bengali detectives. Do you harbor any such plans?
Manoj Michigan– No not at the moment but definitely in the near future! I like the TV series Sherlock. The stylist presentation attracts me.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Manoj Michigan– I want to make good films, where the story and the script will be the king. I want the audience to go out of the hall saying “Ek achcha film dekha aaj”.
Now that Mr. Michigan is ready with his New Bengali Movie which as revealed is a thriller we are eagerly waiting to be treated to some good cinema and come out of the halls saying “Ek achcha film dekha aaj”…. Our Best Wishes with you Mr. Michigan!!
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.