At India Today Conclave East 2018, Anjan Dutta and Srijit Mukherji talk about working with each other on Ek Je Chhilo Raja, music and heartbreak.
At India Today Conclave East 2018, Anjan Dutta and Srijit Mukherji talk about working with each other on Ek Je Chhilo Raja, music and heartbreak
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW
ANJAN: I wanted to be an actor, I failed. I failed in the sense that the industry and I didn’t gel together. Thereby I started writing songs and moved into direction. I’m doing so many things. But I don’t do politics, and modelling and I have no interest in dancing.
SRIJIT: I hardly believed that I could make a film, and that people beyond my friends and family would watch it. I had my plan b and c ready. I thought I’ll make a film as a break and get to serious stuff like cricket journalism. But then things clicked, and people told me that I tell stories reasonably well, and so I stuck on.
ON BELA BOSE SONG FAME
ANJAN: That was an unfortunate situation as I was sued for writing the song. I was sued by an editor of a newspaper, for using his telephone number in the song. We finally won the case. The news editor used to get 300 calls, and so we had to disconnect the number and give him a new phone.
ON BYOMKESH BAKSHI FRANCHISE
ANJAN: By the time I had done several films, I had an audience who were interested. I wanted to produce this franchise and people were shocked, as my character wore a dhoti and I never wore a dhoti. I knew that the film would work. It’s bye bye Byomkesh, as far I’m concerned. As people have taken on Byomkesh Bakshi, I want to do something different.
ANJAN AND SRIJIT ON WORKING TOGETHER
ANJAN: Srijit and I gel well, not because we are commercially viable,
but because we can sit at the same table and fight and still be on good terms. It’s because we differ, that’s why we connect.
I chose his film Ek Je Chhilo Raja because it was a good one. I believed in Srijit whenever he took me for his film. f he had chosen me for another role, I would’ve said yes.
The same industry that I didn’t fit into, has changed now. Educated Bengali people changed cinema. That’s why I’ve started acting again, not to make a career, but just for the love of acting.
SRIJIT: Anjan is a stupendous and extraordinary actor, he’s been criminally utilised in the industry and I am trying to make amends for it. I’ve worked with him in several films. I have immense faith in him. The mark of a good actor is when he’s on the set, is that I hand him the ball and he keeps rolling with it.
ON TAKING RISKS
ANJAN: It’s very important to take risks. Srijit is defining mainstream cinema. To take up the story of Ek Je Chhilo Raja, is a risk as he is redefining the film.
SRIJIT My first film was a tribute to Satyajit Ray, and that was a huge risk. Nobody likes people messing with their icons. And then I did another film that had profane language which people could relate to. There is no fun in treading the familiar line.
And then I did Rajkahini that had brutality, sexuality, which ruffled many Bhadralok feathers. When I made Begum Jaan, which was a Bollywood remake, the risk did not pay off, as well as I hoped. But many people still appreciated it.
ANJAN: I was in love with so many people. However, my love life was over before I was 30. Interestingly, heartbreak and pain is important for acting.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOLLYWOOD AND BENGALI FILMS
SRIJIT: In Bengal, the budgets and resources are so constrained and tight. We shoot films in 20 days with ridiculous budgets. We have to take a lot of shots without rest.
So when Bombay crew of Begum Jaan came down, they were amazed that we had our scenes ready. That’s how we work in Bengal. We believe that even if you waste 5 minutes, it costs a lot.
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