For Bengali film lovers, Kaushik Ganguly's is a name that rings an instant connect. Not for his star value, but for the actor-director's string of films that defy stereotypes and for turning existing notions of filmmaking on its head.
He has proved his calibre with a number of critically acclaimed films such as Waaris, Laptop, Shabdo, Apur Panchali, Khaad, and now Chotoder Chobi. His yet-to-be released film Chotoder Chobi is competing in the best international film category in the ongoing 45th International Film Festival of India in Goa. Excerpts from a free-wheeling chat with Ganguly.
You have won awards at IFFI in the past. How hopeful are you for Chotoder Chobi this time?
I never think that way. I never make a film to win awards. The biggest thing the awards have achieved till date is that it has been selected for the Indian Panaroma at IFFI 2014. There are so many Indian films but the organisers have given this chance to only two films. It's a big honour to represent your country and if it gets any award then it would be a bonus.
Sound is probably the most important aspect of your films.
I am very conscious about sound and I take it very seriously since I believe it is the weakest part of Indian cinema. In fact, we never write a sound script. You need to shoot sound and you can't simply put sound in a film.
Haven't you thought of expanding your horizon and making films in Hindi as well? It will give you a bigger audience.
The kind of films I am making in Bengal I don't take them as Bengali films. I consider them Indian films made in Bengali language. There is no Hindi film in IFFI final round. That says it all.
Aour Panchali probably remains your most complex film till date.
There was nostalgia but I didn't depend on that only. It is based on the life of Subir Banerjee, the little boy who played Apu in Pather Panchali. He stays very close to my house but I didn't know this. Everybody has a DVD of Pather Panchali but they never bothered to inquire about him. He is 69 and living a very lonely life. When I started talking to him and he started opening up then I realised that his life is almost like the script of the Apu trilogy. He left cinema but cinema never left him.
You're an avid filmmaker. Have you already started working on a new project?
I was on a holiday after the release of Khaad. Chotoder Chobi will be releasing around the Bengali new year in April, I have enough time on my hand, so I will start thinking once I go back from Goa, but it's getting tougher day by day to find new subjects.
Would you say that recovering money in Bengali films is a bit difficult?
It's growing and growing. It's not staggering behind with the kind of money we are spending. I shoot for 15-20 days and all of my films are low-budget films. I am recovering money and that's why I am making more films.