No gap between Bengali cinema, Bollywood in content: Filmmaker Srijit Mukherji (IANS Interview)

Kolkata, March 26 (IANS) Dedicating his National Awards for the 2014 Bengali thriller "Chotushkone" to late filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh and the movie's team, director Srijit Mukherji believes there is no divide between Bengali cinema and Bollywood when it c

Kolkata, March 26 (IANS) Dedicating his National Awards for the 2014 Bengali thriller "Chotushkone" to late filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh and the movie's team, director Srijit Mukherji believes there is no divide between Bengali cinema and Bollywood when it comes to content.

Mukherji bagged the coveted Best Director honour at the 62nd edition of the prestigious awards for "Chotushkone" (The Quadrangle), which according to the jury has made "brilliantly reflexive use of the cinematic idiom".

He also won the award for the Best Original Screenplay for the film, which even received the Best Cinematography accolade for Sudeep Chatterjee.

"I don't think there is any gap (between Bengali cinema and Bollywood). Good cinema is good cinema wherever it happens, be it 'Haider' or "Chotoder Chobi' or 'Chotushkone'. Content is the greatest leveller... I don't really think there is a gap as such," Mukherji told IANS in an interview here.

The Kolkata-based filmmaker also stressed that in due course of time, Bengali cinema will also hog its share of the spotlight given its current performance on the national circuit.

"If you are talking about national recognition and limelight, given how Bengali cinema is faring on the national scene of late, that gap or discrepancy or discrimination will be bridged in course of time," he said.

While Vishal Bhardwaj's "Haider" took away a bouquet of five awards and "Queen" scored with the Best Hindi Film and Best Actress honours, Tamil and Bengali movies also got a plethora of honours.

The Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a director went to Bengali film "Asha Jaoar Majhe", helmed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta, while Bengali film "Chotoder Chobi" was named as Best Film on Social Issues for its portrayal of marginalised people.

Actor Churni Ganguly won the Best Bengali film award for her directorial debut "Nirbashito".

The resurgence of Bengali cinema, feels Mukherji, is due to the diversity of subjects.

"New voices like Churni Ganguly, Sengupta are coming up and old voices are coming up with versatile subjects and this augurs very well for the state of Bengali cinema," he said.

Debuting with the critically and commercially successful "Autograph" in 2010, the 37-year-old's impressive six-film repertoire boasts of variety.

Be it the psychological thriller "Baishe Srabon", "Hemlock Society" (dark comedy), adventure flick "Mishawr Rawhoshyo", "Jaatishwara (a period musical drama which won four National Awards last year) and "Chotushkone", Mukherjee says he steers away from repetition.

"I don't try to be different... my films turn out to be different and that's because I hate repeating myself and I love dabbling in variety and as far as plots and subplots are concerned. I'm very fond of multiple narratives and also non-linear narration (as in 'Chotushkone')," he said.

Revolving around four filmmakers who are each given the task to shoot a short film dealing with death, the intriguing "Chotushkone" involving sub-plots, stars real-life actor-directors Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghose, Parambrata Chatterjee and Chiranjeet Chakrabarty in the key roles.

Chatterjee's role was originally meant to be essayed by Rituparno Ghosh, who passed away in 2013 following a heart attack. Incidentally, it was Ghosh who brought home the last Best Director Golden Lotus (Swarna Kamal) trophy for "Abohoman" in 2009.

"The win is dedicated to Ghosh and the team of the film. I wrote 'Chotushkone' in 2010 and I started discussing the film with him and became close to him.

"So it is a very significant film when it comes to Rituparno Ghosh and me and obviously I learnt a lot. He would have been very happy today," Mukherji reminisced fondly, adding the star-cast of the film was in sync with the story's structure.

An economist and social scientist by qualification, Mukherji had no clue what a camera looked liked when he quit his plush job and "took the plunge" into showbiz five years ago.

He is no alien to the perils of the film industry, including censorship issues that he had to tackle for the 2012 "Hemlock Society" which deals with physician-assisted suicide.

"I have faced it (censorship troubles). It is a serious issue. I think sensible people should look into the issue. The important thing is Censor Board of Film Certification is a misnomer. I think we should remain true to its name of certifying films instead of censoring films.

"We should certify who should watch it and who shouldn't instead of telling what to watch and what not," asserted Mukherji, whose next film "Nirbaak" starring Sushmita Sen is ready for release in May. He is currently working on "Rajkahini".

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])

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