Films where dogs have played roles as important as legendary actors are not unknown to us, more so with the recently released Akshay Kumar starrer Its Entertainment, the trend has all the more caught up with film makers and now a Dog will be seen in an important role even in a mainstream Bengali Film. Debutant director Jayasree Bhattacharya’s film Pati Parameswar focuses on dogs and that too eighteen of them. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent Priyanka Dutta engaged the director in a candid conversation over a cup of coffee.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– What brought you into films?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– I began my work as an assistant to director Buddhadeb Dasgupta. It is while working as an assistant that I started working under late director Rituparno Ghosh. I felt that new age films were getting made and hence I contacted Ravi Kinnagi. I have made about twelve telefilms and they were comedies and serious films. However my serious films gained more recognition and popularity than the comic ones. I also wrote for some mega serials (Care korina, Mouchak, Chirosaathi) in between, which helped me to understand the demands of the audience well. I left the serials so that I could focus completely on the making of my film. This helped me with my film’s script immensely.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Can you throw some light on the story of Pati Parameswar?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– This is a comedy film revolving around a husband and wife played by Rituparna Sengupta (Sharmila) and Rajatava Dutta(Arindam). The pet dog Pluto plays an important role in the film. What happens when you have a pet in your house and how you react to certain things is shown in the film. Even when I was reading out the script, everyone was like “This actually happens with our pets too”. So no one had problems with the dialogues.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Why is the dog named Pluto? Does it have any connection with the planet Pluto?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– Yes, this is indeed a connection. The fact that one cannot reach the planet is what prompted me to name the dog as Pluto. Moreover the film had eighteen dogs. For the selection of the dogs I roamed through Kolkata and saw about sixty dogs. I used to have a great time during those days. Every morning I used to get up and get ready and then go out with my team in a sumo to look for the dogs suitable for acting. After the selection we had to go through a long paperwork process of getting permission from Madras after which we began shooting.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Why did you think of selecting Rituparna for the role of Sharmila?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– Well, the story of this film was narrated to me by someone else. I just developed it. When I was listening to the story her name came to my mind. She is glamorous and also has a mind of her own. I wanted her because Sharmila is neither too young nor too old. Hence Rituparna suits the role the best.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– The pairing of Rajatava and Rituparna is also quite unusual. Why did you think of pairing them up?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– Rituparna was just perfect for the role as I mentioned earlier. I selected Rajatava as I was well aware of his acting potentials and I felt there is a lot more of his acting yet to be explored. Hence this pairing of Rituparna and Rajatava was decided upon. The producers wanted some other actor but I was adamant. Hence when the dates did not match of the other actors, I was so very happy.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Tell us something about the music of the film.
Jayasree Bhattacharya– Surojeet Chatterjee has composed the music in the film. I have worked before with Surojeet in my telefilms and I am aware of his ability to experiment. This is what made me select him for the music. The songs in the film are situational and they do not pop up all of a sudden. Moreover we did not even have the budget for such extravagance. Akriti Kakkar, Rituparna Sengupta, Jayati, and Surojeet have sung the five songs in the film. There is also a Rabindrasangeet in the film.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Where all did the shooting take place?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– The entire shooting has been done in various parts of the city.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Can you share some funny incidents that happened while shooting with the eighteen dogs?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– I had a great time. I am an animal lover. But my husband, many of my assistants and even Rituparna had a fear for dogs. However in the course of the film, they have all become dog lovers. Now Rituparna calls and asks whether any of the female dogs has given birth to a puppy which she can adopt. Her son and daughter also used to come on the days when the dogs gave a shot. One incident that I will like to share is we selected dresses for the dogs for a fashion show. But they were adamant on not wearing them. Hence we had to again redesign everything to suit their moods. It was a fun time we had. I had such a fun time that in my next birth I want to be born as a “DOG”.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Did Rituparna, Rajatava and the others live up to your expectations?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– I did not know Rituparna personally but the moment I read out the script she agreed to do the film. She and Rajatava have done exceptionally well, much beyond my expectations. Even the other actors like Rahul, Bobby Chakaborty and Sudipta have done extremely well. I never enacted but I kept a couple of script reading sessions so that I could make myself clear to them, which actually helped.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Have you ever faced any problems being a female director in a male dominated industry?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– I will not say I have faced a direct problem. There are many producers who are not convinced that a female director can actually head so many people. However once you prove yourself there is no dearth of producers. The fact is you have to prove yourself. Moreover unless we take this profession seriously and make this our bread and butter, we will not be taken seriously.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana–This is your debut film. What are your expectations from the film?
Jayasree Bhattacharya– I have high expectations from the film. I have been waiting for a long time to make this film. With a good script, low budget, stellar casting, I think the film will be liked by the audience immensely. This is a complete family entertainer and one will be able to watch the film sitting with their full family. There is a certain sense of Bangaliana in the film and full of the Bengali sentiments too.
Team Sholoana Bangaliana wishes the debutant director all the best for the fun filled film Pati Parameswar slated for release after the Pujas.
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.