She is a singer, poet, playwright and a film director. She is a multi-talented personality who aims to make the people of Bengal proud of their culture with her films. She is ace director Shomshuklla, who received great critical acclaim for her debut film Sandcastle. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent engaged the director in an exclusive telephonic conversation with the director.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Your latest directorial venture Chhutii Aar Picnic, based on Tagore’s Sesher Kobita has been selected at various international film festivals and also won laurels. How do you feel about it?
Shomshuklla- Oh!! It is a feeling of great pride for me. The film made it to the official selection of Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (2014). The film also went on to win the Best Cinematography award at Madrid International Film Festival 2014 and at Columbia Gorge International Film festival 2014. There are three kinds of film festivals. The European and the American film festival, the Eastern Film Festival and the Indian film festival. I said no to the South East Asian Film festival and the Indian film festivals as I did not want my film to be praised just because some people knew about me. I wanted the film to be appreciated for its content and treatment. So when I received laurels in some of the main categories at the international film festivals, I felt proud.
One of the high points that I should mention is when I was complimented by an individual during the screening that my film actually reminded him of a Satyajit Ray film.
The film is based on Tagore’s Sesher Kobita. What is the story of the film?
Chhutii Aar Picnic is about three different individuals who have different backgrounds. They meet each other at a resort. The film is about the journey of two of these individuals who discover each other and experience the motion of love. I feel that Sesher Kobita written by Tagore is more than the typical Mills and Boons love story. It has many layers and can be interpreted in many ways. In this film I have interpreted it in my way. Despite adding modern elements, I have never tampered with the essence of the story.
What interested you to actually make the film on this work of Tagore?
During a visit to my mother’s house in Kolkata, I chanced upon a copy of Sesher Kobita which I used to read as a child. It was part of our school curriculum. The love story and the tragedy of Amit and Lavanya still brought tears to my eyes even after so many years. I realized that I do not have to go far for the story as the story was in my very hand.
Since the film is based on Tagore’s work, what kind of music have you selected for the film?
Ankur Mukherjee is the music director of this film. I know him since 2004 as we have worked on many music albums together. It was way back in 2004 that I first brought out a CD of fusion of the songs of Tagore. I know Ankur well and he knew about my working style. Hence composing the music together was great fun. The film has seven Rabindrasangeet songs, which have been presented in a fusion. Some of the songs used in the film are Momo chitte, Hey khonikher atithi and others.
Whom have you selected for the roles of the lead characters in the film?
Shahana Chatterjee, Uditvanu Das and Sohini Mukherjee Roy will be seen playing the lead characters in the film. I was fortunate to get the Bengali actors when I was making the selection of the cast. They are based out of Bengal so I just had to brief them about the Bengali culture and make them aware of their pride and sense of belonging. This will help them to connect with the Bengali culture.
How difficult was to make the film as an independent film maker based out of Bengal?
Oh, it was a huge challenge for me. I am an independent film maker and also based out of Kolkata. However I took up the challenge and never gave up on my dream to make the film on Sesher Kobita.
I am tempted to ask you one question. What kind of problems have you faced in the film industry as a woman director?
Well, I haven’t been exploited till now. Ankur and Ritam (Director of Photography) knew me from before and we had great fun during the shoot. At times I used to forget that I am a woman while working in the male dominated unit. Moreover the amount of fun that we had on the sets was just too much.
What are your expectations from the film and also from the audiences in the city of Kolkata?
I have made the film mainly for the Bengali audience. I could have easily released the film in any other city but I wanted the Bengalis to be proud of their culture. Hence this initiative to release the film in Kolkata and I will be highly disappointed if people do not watch it.
What is next in the lineup?
I want to make good films in future. Right now I am too busy with this film.
Chhutii Aar Picnic will release on the 30th of January in Kolkata. We hope director Shomshuklla’s effort gets due recognition from the film loving audience of the city.
Interview of Shomshuklla by:
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.