“The road won’t be smooth, but keep walking” ~ says Abhigyan Mukherjee
We had lately interviewed one of the most promising debut directors that the Tollywood Industry has got in its recent years. Precise, focused and diligent Abhigyan Mukherjee disclosed many unheard tales before us which had been a treasure to explore. A lazy afternoon that was spent well. Read on..
- Sir, from where have you completed your graduation?Ans: I have done B.Sc in Economics from Maulana Azad College.
- So after completing B.Sc., why have you chosen a completely different field of interest as your profession? Wasn’t that a risk?
Ans:I have always been into films since a very young age. I used to write scripts or read books apart from my text-books. A number of times when my mother stepped inside my room and found me studying, I was actually pretty engrossed in reading a fiction or writing a script. Only my elder sister knew about the passion I so fondly nurtured within me. I topped in Economics in both of the school board exams. So my parents were always pleased with my academic performance and they wanted me to pursue with the subject. Frankly, my family didn’t want me to direct films because had I studied film studies then, I would have been the first one in my family to do that, and it would have really been a risk on the neck. However, my family came to know much later when I came to Kolkata to continue my graduation. Back then, I got an offer from Mumbai. I met Arindam Ganguly who informed me that there was a television serial, ‘Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai’, where I could join as a script writer. Informally, that was my breakthrough. So, while studying at Maulana Azad College in Kolkata, I used to mail them scripts for the serial I just mentioned. Later on, they wanted me to shift to Mumbai to work for them. However, it was not possible then to go over there and work. After completing my grads, I went to Delhi to get admitted in DSE, however, I cancelled the admission there and decided to continue my higher education in Film Studies and Direction at ASMS. It was something really a mammoth task for me to sit for its entrance test. Nevertheless, I got selected ranking fourth. That was the crucial phase, when my parents started supporting and motivating me a lot. I worked for Zee Group, gradually started gathering contacts in Kolkata and finally landed up here with Chitra.
- How did ‘Chitra’ happen?Ans:Chitra is a feature which was not strictly planned. Loads of short films, documentaries, television projects were being done before. Chitra was something very sudden and new in my life. I would like to mention about Abhijit De who is the financer of Chitra, and he had a big helping hand in it. Promotions were minutely designed and carried on before its release.
- How was your experience in working with so many new characters in Chitra? Specifically with Neel and Pujarini?
Ans: They are of my age. Actually I wanted to cast Devdaan(Bhowmik) for that role but he was busy with the promotions of his films like ‘Window-Connection’ and ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshi‘. When Neel appeared for the audition, his delivery, and the way he dealt with the situation given to him was something that moved me. He was the first one to appear, and I selected him. But in the case of Pujarini, she was the last one I chose (laughs). Around 25 girls came for the audition, but amongst the lot, I chose two of them. One was Sneha, whose appearance definitely would have gone with the character had she acted well. Whereas, Pujarini’s picture that were sent to me before the auditions, failed to go along with my expectations for the character ‘Chitra’. But her performance in the audition was very powerful and mesmerizing. Such mature and subtle conduct definitely deserved the lead. There was a point of time when Neel forgot his dialogue, but Pujarini made him remember in the shot itself. Pujarini had been always full of life on the set, and in spite of having assistant directors, Pujarini used to remind me anything I had missed out. We used to sit together and discuss the twists and turns needed for the delivery and execution. So I should truly feel blessed working with such a team. Sushmita (Bhattacharya) was elder to us, yet she vibed with us quite well. Sudeshna (Roy) Ma’am was a humble soul who had been a great guide throughout. Her suggestions, advises, tips were helpful then and would help me out in the long run as well. There is only one thing I would like to mention. The first day I sat on the director’s seat and the entire crew kept calling me ‘Sir’! It was an exciting feeling. Sudeshna Ma’am’s son assisted beautifully.
- What was the difference you felt while working with both existing actors and new comers in the film? State the difference.
Ans: See, when I was working with Neel, he was very new, since he didn’t work in a film before. Sushmita had worked in television, but never a film. However, Pujarini did work in a film. She assisted the Director in ‘Open Tee Bioscope’, so she knew the dos and don’ts of the industry. Neel and Sushmita staged their performances in quite a number of theaters, but I had to make them understand that stage demands comparably louder acting, whereas film industry prefers spontaneity. But I should say, they were much focused and worked hard. Sushmita was very fond of her character. With time, we became like a family.
- Tell me something about the music of the film ‘Chitra’.
Ans: Music is fabulous, the scores are experimental. Mohul(Chakraborty) da has blended rock, pop, punk and much more interesting genres to make the film happening.
- Which one is your favourite song in ‘Chitra’?
Ans: I don’t want to sound biased, but it’s ‘Me Amore’ (laughs). ‘Sur Chhera’ is another of my favourites. One is sung by Timir, and another is sung by Rupankar and Somlata.
- What interests you apart from directing?
Ans: I used to dance. I received training in Western Dance. I remember my first performance was ‘Hamma Hamma‘ (laughs). I performed at school, festivals, competitions bagged prize much often. Besides, I preferred debating, reading books. And of course, I cannot sing! (laughs)
- Who is your Dream Actor?
Ans: In Tollywood, I actually want to work in a project with Ritwik Chakraborty . From Bollywood, I always dreamed of working with Shah Rukh Khan sharing his screen with Kajol.
- So, you aspire to work in Bollywood?
Ans: I do aspire to grow as a greater director in the days to come. Although I don’t know what are the surprises and hurdles that are awaiting me.
- Tell us something about your upcoming projects.
Ans: ‘Kuwasha’ is my next project. And about the rest, you’ll be knowing by and by. I shall keep my lips sealed for now (laughs).
- Any message for the readers?
Ans: Follow this website. Go through all the articles and interviews since Laughalaughi is going great as of now.
- And, what is your message for the upcoming directors?
Ans: Always remain optimistic no matter whatever obstacles you got to deal with, deliver your ideas in your own unique way. The road won’t be smooth, but keep walking.
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