Content is king for Bengali cinema

  • Anindita Acharya, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 07, 2015 14:01 IST

Director-actor Arindam Sil is a happy man and so is Chandrabindoo frontman Anindya Chattopadhyay. While Sil’s second Bengali directorial film, Ebar Shabor, which released on January 2, the first Bengali release of 2015, is set to complete 100 days at the box office on April 11, Chattopadhyay’s debut Bengali directorial film, Open Tee Bioscope, (OTB) which released on January 16, is still running successfully in theatres and has recently completed 75 days. Trade insiders say that Utsav Mukherjee’s Bengali psychological thriller, Bheetu, which had a slow opening is picking up pace with positive reviews and word-of-mouth publicity. The film has also entered its sixth week.

“Ultimately the truth has to come out. We filmmakers, who are passionate about good cinema, always knew that content rules. A good film is one which has great content supported by strong actors. Hence, Bollywood films such as Badlapur and Dum Laga Ke Haisha have also done well. Happy New Year was a big hit but nobody called it good cinema. The box office of OTB picked up after three weeks. Content and word-of-mouth publicity is working. Even when a superstar is working in a film, content is the most important. So let’s rejoice,” says Sil, who’s holding a special screening of his sleuth film, Ebar Shabor, at a city multiplex today to celebrate its 100-day run.

Chattopadhyay, whose phone hasn’t stopped ringing ever since the release of OTB, also admits that content is the main driving force in a film. “It doesn’t matter if the film has a star or not. Content always rules. Last year, Queen had a fresh subject. This year, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Ebar Shabor and Bheetu have done well because of their content. I think if we give more importance to content, then the film industry will benefit,” says the filmmaker-cum-musician.

Sudiptaa Chakraborty, who played a pivotal role in OTB and Bheetu, on April 3 posted on a social networking site, “Open Tee Bioscope is on its 78th day.... Bheetu on its 36th day. Happy me. Wish you all a very happy Bangla cinema viewing.”

Piku filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, also the producer of OTB, couldn’t be happier. He, too, believes content is king. “The strength of Bengali films has always been its content. Even today, if you look at directors such as

Srijit Mukherji and Aniruddha Roy Choudhury, content has always been the king and it will remain so. Open Tee Bisocope is a big example,” says Sircar, who wants to produce Chattopadhyay’s next film too.

JK Ray of Reliance Entertainment, too, echoes similar sentiments. “Urban cinema has always been about content. Audiences have always been attracted towards innovative story ideas. Content speaks and all these films have proved that,” he says.

Mukherjee admits that the success of small budget and content-driven films encourage filmmakers like him to make more such projects in the future. “Bheetu was a small budget film. Today, a hardcore Bengali commercial film with a superstar finds it hard to recover money. So, we followed certain strategies for Bheetu. Most of the scenes have been shot indoor. And the film relied on content and strong performances,” smiles the director.

Actor Riddhi Sen, the protagonist Fowara of OTB, is glad that this trend has emerged. According to him, it’s high time that small films are recognised. “We didn’t know that the film would turn out to be such a big hit. Small films are getting accepted in Bollywood for the past few years. But there are more options in Bollywood. In Tollywood, we have limited options. But I guess we are slowly opening up with films such as Open Tee Bioscope, Ebar Shabor and Bheetu finally getting recognised. The whole credit goes to the audience who have appreciated these small films,” says Sen.

Parno Mittra, actor of Bheetu, says audiences don’t watch all films on face value. “Once a year films such as Happy New Year or Kick release, which has a big star cast. But the audience will not watch every film on face value. Audience look out for films with novel plots. A film like Open Tee Bioscope, which had a bunch of kids, strongly rides on performance and story. Same goes for Bheetu, which had a taut script and positive word-of-mouth publicity,” says the Apur Panchali actor.

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