New Delhi: Film critic turned director Pratim D Gupta’s first film ‘Paanch Adhyay’ is releasing this Friday. The filmmaker talks about his early years, the process of filmmaking and the struggle he had to face during his transition from a journalist to a filmmaker.
Q: How and when did you decide to become a filmmaker?
A: I am watching films since eternity. I grew up in Kolkata where world cinema was not easily accessible, so I watched Govinda, Mithun da, Amitabh Bachchan. Along side, there were Bengali films, Satyajit Ray and all, so that is how it started.
Debutant director Pratim D Gupta explains why and how Dia Mirza personifies a dignified woman in \'Paanch Adhyay\'.
Despite doing well in engineering entrances, I didn’t take it as a career option nd went for English and film study. Then I got introduced to foreign films, right from Charlie Chaplin to Korean, Japanese and what not, so those three years were dedicated to crazy film watching. I always wanted to do something on my own and I was freelancing for newspapers. I took up a job in ‘The Telegraph’ after graduation and there I became a film critic.
I have been writing scripts since 4-5 years and one of the scripts went to Locarno film festival also. Finally last year I got funds for a film and that is how ‘Paanch Adhyay’ happened, so this is the love for cinema. It’s not like, ‘let’s make a film because I have written enough on films.’
Q: Dia Mirza is debuting in Bengali films with ‘Paanch Adhyay’.
A: Dia is a very old friend. I have interviewed her many times and she always wanted to be a producer. I have always thought that her real talent hasn’t been recognised, it’s untouched. Around 3-4 years ago, when I had written the synopsis of ‘Paanch Adhyay’, she was online and I sent her the one page synopsis and she replied, ‘it reminds me of something Gulzar saab would write.’ That was very emotional and I said to her, ‘I am finding funds for this film but you will have to work in it,’ so last year, when I got the funds I said her, ‘I have got it and we are shooting from November.’ So, it was as easy as that.
Q: What exactly did you see in Dia before casting her?
A: I really think that she hasn't been given the scope to perform and her choice of films was also not that great. I think she has done remarkably good in ‘Paanch Adhyay’. What’s special about Dia is her vulnerability and also there is this distinct sense of dignity. The first words about her character in the film are, ‘how dignified this woman is.’
Q: Priyanshu Chatterjee is also returning to the silver screen with ‘Paanch Adhyay’?
A: Priyanshu is also a friend. I believe in what Vidhu Vinod Chopra once said, ‘a film takes one year or so to complete, so it is always better to take your friends, at least you will have a good time.’ Plus he was very good in ‘Tum Bin’ and I liked the film for many reasons, but there after he disappeared, and I always felt that he deserves a second look. And also the character of Arindam needed to look natural age wise and look wise, and Priyanshu fitted into the role.
Q: What does ‘Paanch Adhyay’ mean?
A: It’s a film split into five chapters and the look changes in all five chapters. When I go back and forth in time, the appearance also changes. The film is about the journey of a couple, two people in love, played by Dia and Priyanshu, so it’s like five states of a relationship.
Q: Any reason behind taking Kolkata as the basic premise.
A: I have lived in Kolkata for three decades and it is my first film, so I will shoot it at a place which makes me comfortable.
Q: Your Kolkata looks glossy.
A: There is a natural tendency in the filmmakers to show a poor Kolkata, but the scene has changed over the years. I just wanted my city to look good.
See, the fact that a film critic has made the film doesn't make ‘Paanch Adhyay’ a complicated film. Yes, there are nuances, details but on the surface it is a simple film. It’s a film made with heart and anybody who has fallen in love would identify with it. It would make you feel good about yourself.
Are you looking forward to 'Paanch Adhyay'?