Award-winning filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta, who has completed his new movie Janla (Window), a return-to-the-roots tale based on a personal journey, feels that parallel cinema is not reaching out to the audience.
"We are not taking good cinema to the audience. The film society movement is dying and those that exist mostly screen foreign films and regional cinema is relegated to the background. But the film society movement, when it had taken off, was instrumental in creating a sensitive audience who appreciated offbeat and parallel cinema," Dasgupta told IANS.
Dasgupta felt that despite steep ticket prices, multiplexes were a blessing for small-budget filmmakers.
"Most of my movies are released in multiplexes and I have a steady audience in West Bengal. Though standalone theatres, where movie tickets are slightly cheaper, draw packed houses, the audience in Kolkata is no longer reluctant to shell Rs.15 more to watch my movies in multiplexes," Dasgupta said.
He predicted that in another three to four years, when the number of screens go up three-fold across the country, multiplexes will be forced to show at least three regional movies with subtitles every week.
His new movie Janla (Window), produced by Reliance Big Movies and starring newcomers Indraneel Sen and Swastika Mukherjee, is awaiting release in a couple of months.
"It is a movie of two wishes. An ordinary man who wants to donate a window and a window which wants to go back to the jungle. I was inspired to make the movie after a visit to my old school - a small village school where I studied - in Kharagpur. It has changed now.
"The protagonist of the movie also visits his old school and finds that a big window behind the classroom through which he could see the sky and hear the birds was badly damaged. Since he is not rich enough to make a new classroom, he decides to donate a window," Dasgupta said, outlining the story.
"It would cost him Rs.24,000. He withdraws the money from a joint account that he holds with his pregnant girlfriend without telling her in the hope that he would replenish it in two weeks. He is unable to do so and when his girlfriend finds out, it creates a rift between the couple. The woman accuses him of breaching trust. Meanwhile, the window that he manages to donate is stolen...," the filmmaker said.
Dasgupta is ready with a new script for his next movie. It is based on his novel Rahasyamaya (Mysterious).
"The movie is about a man in his mid-50s who suddenly finds it difficult to communicate though he wants to tell a lot of things. He starts writing letters to a girl, who responds. While he writes about his life, the girl begins to fancy him thinking he is young and is desperate to meet him despite his reluctance. The meeting results in disaster - the girl goes to the police and the man spends six months in jail," he said. Dasgupta will begin shooting for the film in October.
Dasgupta feels movies in Bollywood are also changing.
"Mumbai is making many offbeat small-budget movies which are different. I saw Cheeni Kum and liked it - it looked like a small budget movie despite the presence of Amitabh Bachchan," he said.
Small-budget films, explained Dasgupta, fetched almost three times more money than spent on making it.
"At least, I manage to do it for my movies. After winning international awards, the price of my movie Bagh Bahadur shot up three-fold," said the filmmaker, whose movies sell worldwide.
Dasgupta plans to work in Bollywood in future.
"Talent abounds - actors like Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan need good scripts, good characters and good directors to prove themselves. I think they are also bored of the usual song-dance-action movies," he said.
Dasgupta, born in 1944 near Purulia in West Bengal, is credited with cinematic masterpieces like Neem Annapurna (Bitter Morsel)" in 1979, Phera (The Return) in 1986, Uttara (2000), Bagh Bahadur in 1989 and many more.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at email@example.com )