Director Srijit Mukherji shares his thoughts as Baishe Srabon hits the screens on Sep 30, 2011, the weekend before Durga Puja. After the hugely successful Autograph, expectations from this film are sky-high. It’s a film which he refuses to categorize as a thriller or for that matter, associate with any genre. Srijit also acknowledges the contribution of everyone involved in bringing his movie to the silver screen
Baishey Srabon is Sreejit's 2nd Bengali feature film
The skies have turned that colour again, and the air is festive in whiffs. And about one and a half years have passed since I stepped out to Tollygunge Filmdom as a greenhorn. And as a mudblood, since I consider Cinema to be primarily a piece of magic and I had no wizards or witches in my family. Not unlike Shubhobroto Mitra from Autograph. 41 awards, 114 box office days, 5 film festivals and a watershed phenomenon later, I feel like telling a new story. This Puja. Again.
The pressure was monumental, the expectations, flattering but strangulating. A lot of people urged me to make another Autograph. The more realistic ones, clamoured for a sequel. Though an idea of a sequel is something which does lurk somewhere deep down, I wanted to make a film which is diametrically opposite to Autograph. While Autograph was white and feel-good, I needed something which is dark and violent. One, which would delve into the bitter side of loneliness. Which would explore uncomfortable chapters from Bengal's cultural past. Which would question the norms which define insanity. And which would satisfy the thriller buff in me.
Written in 2008 for a telefilm to be directed by Parambrata Chatterjee, Baishe Srabon fitted the bill perfectly. Rich in cinematic possibility, I dug it out post Autograph for the dreammakers Shrikant Mohta and Mahendra Soni and went about telling the story. Real and gritty locations like the dark alleys of Entally and Sonagachi, obstacles both natural and man-made, using a body rig for the first time in Bengali films, using the Canon 5D camera in tandem with the Arri 435, a stellar cast, a killing schedule – shooting Baishe Srabon was a thriller by itself.
But hold on. Don't categorise it as a conventional thriller immediately — it surely isn't. It is a mixed genre film which I would only call a thriller if you have a gun to my head. If you remove that gun, but still look at me threateningly, I will call it a musical thriller. If you remove the gun, move away and sit and have a cup of tea with me, I will call it a film with the context of a thriller dealing with larger social and inter-personal issues where music plays a huge role in taking the story forward (or when required, backward). Yes, I called it a film, without getting into labels.
The legend of Goddess Durga gives us a detailed account of how she was armed variously by the gods. Some endowed Her with the mace, some other the trident, some, the lion, some other the lightning. It is no different in the case of Baishe Srabon where the Gods came together brilliantly. Prosenjit Chatterjee gave it the larger than life canvas through his brilliant histrionics. Gautam Ghosh gave it a chilling edge with his unbelievable screen presence, Parambrata Chatterjee gave it meat and body and tears and blood in perfect collusion with Abir Chatterjee and Raima Sen. And how can I forget the crew – Soumik Haldar, who wielded the camera like a brush to Bodhaditya Banerjee, who wielded his fingers on the edit machine, like a scalpel. Soumyabrata Rakshit, displaying Atlas-like shoulders in executing the schedule, Sohag Sen, fashioning eras and emotions from the players and Saborni Das, putting together everything from polka dotted safety pins to albino elephants, at a moment's notice. And who endowed Baishe Srabon with the conch shell? A sound which announced its arrival one month before the Pujas? Anupam Roy, of course. He fashioned a music album which in my personal opinion, went one notch higher than Autograph in terms of musical and lyrical content.
Is it going to rain these Pujas? Is Srabon coming back again? Maybe. Maybe my incredibly dedicated marketing head Ravi Sharma has had an outdoor tie-up with Celestial Beings. But all I know thatits time. To stop writing and get to distributing the passes for the premiere. To take some time to reflect, while butterflies light up one's intestines as Friday approaches. And to thank the innumerable people and the Almighty, whose love and blessings made this journey unforgettable.
(The feature was written by Srijit on the eve of Baishe Srabon premiere on Sep 28, 2011)
Read Baishe Srabon reviews.