By Rituparna Sengupta Basu
He always wanted to do a movie on a Bengali Theatre. Bengali theatre and its impact in the aftermath of the social reform always nurtured his subconscious mind. At last, he materializes his dream. Yes, we are talking about the renowned journalist, the author turned director Ram Kamal Mukherjee, whose dreams set on sky-high. He led a new thrust into the world of filmmaking in recent times. His film has been comprehensively praised for their sensitive thoughtful sketch of societal issues.
After the immense success of ‘Cakewalk’ and his second film ‘Season Greetings’, it became India’s first movie to collaborate with the United Nations. Not only that, Amitabh Bachchan unveiled the first look of ‘Season Greetings’, now he is all set to direct his debut Bengali feature film. He will make his first feature film on the life of Binodini Dasi aka Notee Binodini. Past two years he totally convinced himself to research this subject. He tried to make this film unique and throw light on Binodini’s state of mind as well as Bengal’s period in a completely different way. This film will go on the floor Next year March 2020 under the banner of Assorted Motion Pictures. Assorted Motion Pictures recently revealed the teaser and poster of this Bengali full-length feature film. Expresso gets you an exclusive sneak peek with the exceptional filmmaker, an overjoyed Ram Kamal Mukherjee who shares a lot about his dream project.
Expresso: Why did you choose Bengali medium for your first feature film?
Ram Kamal: Whenever I choose a subject the language comes by default and Notee Binodini I think should be made in Bengali. Binodini Dasi was a first famous theatre actress in Bengal and her mode of communication and everything else was in Bengali. To bring out the actual real essence of the story I need to retain the language she uses to speak in, as it is folklore it is jatra.
If you see some Marathi cinemas like Bal Gandharva or Natarang these became popular. These could have been made in Hindi instead of making it in Marathi but they made the movie in Marathi as the subject demanded the language Marathi. So here I think Binodini Dasi would be justified in Bengali because Ramakrishna Kathamrita or Giridi Ghosh’s words or Binodini’s songs, as well as her performance, will come out better if the language would be the one they use to speak in.
Expresso: What is the behind the scene story for choosing this particular subject like Binodini Dasi?
Ram Kamal: My Notee Binodini is completely a different format; the one that we saw earlier was a jatra. We have seen Sima Biswas earlier portray her character in English at Delhi National School of Drama and Dinen Gupta have also made it. So none of these are present in my film because I have made it from a different point of view, but obviously, as they have also worked on the same character, few things are definitely going to overlap. But my narration is completely different from what you have seen in the past. I tried to make my film unique since I wanted to frame the plot in a creative way and throw light on Binodini’s state of mind as well as Bengal’s period in a completely different way.
Expresso: Pradeep Sarkar is also making it in Hindi; do you think this can clash with you?
Ram Kamal: I don’t know about the narrative of Pradeep Sarkar, what is he doing, when he is doing but yes, I have heard that he is also doing a movie on Notee Binodini in Hindi. I like his work a lot and I am fond of Pradeep da. I am sure that he will be doing a brilliant film if he does it in Hindi.
Making a film in Hindi requires a lot of budgets, immense grandeur is also required, movies release on a national basis. I am making the movie in Bengali, quite obviously few clashes are bound to happen which couldn’t be compared. As we all have seen earlier that when Shakti Samanta was making Devdas with Prosenjit Chatterjee at the same time Bhansali was also doing the same movie with Shahrukh Khan. We have seen Dharmendra and Hema Malini in Alibaba Marjina in Hindi and at the same time, Rabi Ghosh and Mithu Mukherjee have worked in Marjina Abdulla. Similarly, Swayam Siddha, Jyoti where Jitendra and Hema Malini worked in Hindi, and Ranjit Mullick and Mithu Mukherjee in Bengali.
So the simultaneous release of Hindi and Bengali film has earlier happened and is still continuing at present as well which is nothing new. Like Manikarnika released in Hindi and now it is coming in Marathi as ‘Warrior Queen of Jhansi’. The approach of both the movies is different; Kangana Ranaut had one point of view regarding the movie while the upcoming one is coming with a different view.
So, these are public domain subject so anyone can make movies on these as they don’t have any copyrights. But my best wishes are always with Pradeep da and I am eagerly waiting for the movie since I have heard that he is considering either Vidya Balan or Deepika Padukone for the movie. Deepika is quite close to me and I am sure she will portray the character of Noti Binodini properly. So, there will be two Notee Binodini versions in front of the people which are quite good.
Expresso: What about the cast? Are you introducing any new face in the movie?
Ram Kamal: I haven’t thought about it actually because things are still on the discussion so I can’t take anybody’s name at present and nothing has been finalized yet.
Expresso: Are you introducing any new face for your movie?
Ram Kamal: No, we are not introducing any new face in the movie. I have thought of working with established faces only. We are planning to work with people both from Kolkata as well as Mumbai, but mainly the artists would be from Kolkata only.
Expresso: In 1994 Dinen Gupta is also made this same film. Did you take any advice for your movie?
Ram Kamal: No, I don’t think so as I have earlier said that I have seen his movie, he made the movie after getting inspired by Bina Dasgupta’s drama, Notee Binodini jatra. Even the screenplay was also inspired by it too. The original Bina Dasgupta’s drama on Notee Binodini is more popular and inspired by it, Dinen Gupta made the film. As I know about the drama and also, when I was a child my father bought me a cassette of the drama, so I know about the jatra. I have also seen the performance of Ajit Panjaa in Noti Binodini actually, I have been learning about the character for quite some time now, the theatre culture, the songs and influence of Ram Krishna in the society and among them, Notee Binodini is the most important part.
Expresso: Lastly, ‘Season’s Greetings’ is releasing this November so, what would be your message for the viewers?
Ram Kamal: The movie is mainly made to pay tribute to Rituparno Ghosh. I have passionately made this film and till now I haven’t seen any movie like that pays tribute to his work and him. Those who know about his works and love his movie they will definitely understand that where and how his works have been paid tribute to and whether the tribute is good or bad, that viewers will decide. But this movie is based on a modern-day story about a mother and daughter has melodious songs. The story has been beautifully framed and directed which I think viewers will surely cherish.