If The Movie Gets Appraised In The Native Land, Then It Will Give More Happiness: Ram Kamal Mukherjee

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India’s leading OTT platform Zee5 premiered Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s Hindi digital feature ‘A Tribute To Rituparno Ghosh: Season’s Greetings on April 15. The film marks the return of Bollywood actor Celina Jaitly Haag post marriage and motherhood. The film revolves around a mother and daughter relationship, that ends with a twist. After the release of the film over the chat with us, director Ram Kamal Mukherjee shares his thoughts about making this film, what is the reason behind the title, best memory while shooting for the movie and lots more. Don’t dare to miss it…

Expresso: Finally the much-awaited film ‘Seasons Greetings’ has released. How are you feeling? 

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I am nervous since whenever a movie releases a tension remains within on how the audience will accept it and as it is a tribute to ‘Rituparno Ghosh’ so it is a serious topic. Also, people have high expectations regarding the movie. But, I would say that I am quite happy since many journalists have come across this and have loved the concept. I also had this fear that whether people will be able to understand that it is a tribute to such an eminent person. People have loved the acting of Celina Jaitely and Lillete Dubey, and I am quite happy about that. Filmfare has given four stars to it, Khalid Mohammad, Rajiv Hasan, Nandita Puri, and many other eminent reviewers have certainly praised it. The film has won awards overseas too, but I feel that if the movie gets appraised in the native land, then it gives more happiness.

Expresso: How did the idea of ‘Season’s Greetings’ came in your mind?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: Honestly, I never thought particularly about making a film that would pay a tribute to Rituparno Ghosh. Rather, I would say that the idea came out while I was working on the movie. ‘Season’s Greetings’ all began with the story of a mother and daughter, which was the basic storyline, but when I started working on the script I then realized that it is possible to pay tribute to Rituparno Ghosh through the movie. It highlights the popular works of Rituparno Ghosh. So, those who have watched films of him, they will certainly love the movie, but those who have not, they will enjoy the simple story of a mother and daughter.

Expresso: Is there any reason behind choosing the name ‘Season’s Greetings’?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: Season denotes ‘Ritu’ or the seasons and Greetings denotes ‘Ritur Ahobaan’ or invitation’. This is the only reason I chose the name ‘Season’s Greetings’.

Expresso: Was Celina Jaitely your first choice for the character Romita?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: No, initially I considered Paoli Dam for the character since she is a very close friend of mine and a well-wisher too. But, then the shooting had to be stopped since the Majherhaat Bridge collapsed during that time. So, her dates were not coinciding with ours, and there she gave it to Param for a web series shooting ‘Kaali’. After that, the dates which she came up with was not matching with Lillete Dubey since she was going out of town for World Theatre for quite a long time. As Paoli was close to me so she said that I can consider another actor if any economic issue is creeping in. Then I thought of considering Celina Jaitely for the movie since I met her in Dubai when I was promoting for ‘Cakewalk’. She heard the story back then and loved it, so I chose her.

Expresso: How much time did it take to shoot the movie?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: It took about five to six days for the shooting the movie.

Expresso: What is your best memory while shooting for the movie?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: The first location that we chose for the shooting was the Grand Hyatt. After the ‘muhraat’, we started shooting the first scene of Azhar and Celina, and after the completion, the manager of the hotel came to congratulate us. He was asking about the movie and its theme so I narrated to him. For a few seconds, he kept quiet and he said ‘It is quite strange’. I asked him why it is so, then he said that in this particular suite Ritu da shot a scene for the movie ‘Sob Choritro Kalponik’. After hearing this, the whole unit kept silent for some time. So, I felt that somewhere he was blessing us since out of all the other suites, we got this and there has to be some reason. So, this is undoubtedly one of the best memories for me.

Expresso: Tell us something about your working experience with Lillette Dubey and Celina Jaitely?

Celina Jaitly, Lillette Dubey, Azhar Khan and Ram Kamal Mukherjee

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: Lillete Dubey is quite professional since she is a seasoned actor since she works in theatres. I have seen a few of her theatre works apart from films and I wanted a strong woman character for the film. I had a great experience working with her as she is a method actor and understands her work very well. I met her in Mumbai once for the reading and she is very much particular about her work. Celina and I use to talk and did the readings over Skype. A famous song of Rabindranath Tagore ‘Sokhi Bhabona Kahare Koy’ is also there in the movie, but Celina just had to lip-sync the first line. Even though she is Bengali, but she does not know how to speak since she used to live abroad and still now she does. She asked me to send the line written in Roman and how Rabindranath Tagore wrote it she wanted to know everything through Skype. By the time they arrived Kolkata, both of them were completely prepared. Lillete use to help other actors for improvising various dialogues, which I feel was a kind gesture. So, all in all, it was a great experience working with both of them.

Expresso: Since the movie is going to release during the lockdown so how difficult it is for your team to promote the movie?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I had a lot of plans regarding the promotion of the movie like I had to visit Bangalore, Jaipur, Delhi, and the other metropolitan cities, many face-to-face interviews were there. I chose Kolkata and Mumbai for the premiere and also Celina also had a plan to visit India for the promotion. Also, I had to do radio visits, studio visits but nothing could be made possible. But, still, I am trying my best to do everything right from my home since the era of the digital revolution. In the end, the movie has been made for the audience and since it is getting released during the lockdown period so it is a different challenge altogether. I feel that we should not regret what gone, instead, it is best we should work hard with what we have got in the present.

Expresso: What are your upcoming projects after ‘Season’s Greetings’?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: You will be able to see ‘Rickshawala’, which is a fifty minutes Bengali and Bhojpuri short film, ‘Broken Frame’, a short Hindi film starring Rohit Roy Bose and Ritabhari Chakraborty, and then ‘Subho Bijoya’ starring Gurmeet and Deblina.

Expresso: Are you planning to make a sequel to ‘Cakewalk’?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I am getting requests for making a sequel of ‘Cakewalk’ but I couldn’t come up with a good and striking story yet. For making a sequel, it is important to have a strong storyline otherwise, it would be an utter disaster. I am getting the same feedback for ‘Season’s Greetings’ as well. But, I am looking forward to working with Esha once again.

Expresso: Previously you have written books on Hema Malini and Sanjay Dutt. So are you currently working on any book?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: Yes, I am working in a book and it is a biography but I cannot tell you the name since I have signed NDA.

Expresso: Which kind of book inspires you?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: Undoubtedly biographies as it inspires me to know about life or the journey of a person. I do love fiction books as well, but I mostly am keen on biographies since I am associated with film and editing world.

Expresso: What brings a smile on your face the most?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: When I see a smile on my son Reyansh’s face and he hugs me happily. When my son is happy, I am happy. I would say that is the most blissful moment for me for sure.

Expresso: What is the last thing you Googled?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: A few days back I was Googling about ‘When Coronavirus will die’.

Expresso: What truly excites you about direction?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I would say it is storytelling.

Expresso: Name a show that you have binge-watched?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I have binge-watched quite a few shows, but recently I loved ‘Asur’ that I have watched on Voot.

Expresso: What is the first thing you will do after the lockdown gets over?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I would go for a haircut and look like a human being.

Expresso: What would be your detox menu?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I would walk on Juhu beach barefoot with my wife and son and eat Sevpoori, Panipuri, or Adrak Chai, and cherish the unimaginable beauty of the beach. I am missing it a lot these days.

Expresso: Describe yourself in three words?

Ram Kamal Mukherjee: I would say constant, creative, madness.

 

 

 

 

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