Sandip Ray, who is successfully carrying forward his father Satyajit Ray’s legacy with the Feluda franchise, admits that at times he too likes making non-Feluda films. Sandip is excited about his new film, Mon Chora starring Abir Chatterjee and Raima Sen, which will be the first Bengali release of 2016.
Based on celebrated Bengali author Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s work, the film also has an element of thrill. Much like 2015, which marked the 50th anniversary of Feluda, 2016 too is going to be an important year for Sandip. The filmmaker plans to give a double treat to his fans with two Feluda stories clubbed in one film.
HT caught up with the director on films, Professor Shonku and more:
December seems to be your favourite month, as all your earlier films released in this month.
Yes, but this time we had to shift the release date to January. Initially, we had plans of releasing the film in December but it was clashing with two major Bengali and Bollywood releases. At the same time, the theatres too are going down in number. I prefer releasing films in December because it’s a festive month and people are in holiday mood. It’s also considered a lucky month for filmmakers but the release of a film depends on other factors too.
Abir Chatterjee plays an important character in Mon Chora, which releases on January 1. You two seem you have developed a strong bond, as this is your fourth film with him.
He first worked with me in Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy (2012) in the story Brown Saheber Bari. Later, we did Chaar (2014). Then he was roped in to play Feluda in Badshahi Angti (2014). An actor needs to fit into a role and fortunately Abir managed to pull off all these roles.
You also prefer working with a particular set of actors. Saswata Chatterjee and Paran Bandopadhyay are seen in most of your films.
I look for a perfect cast and if I manage to find someone with whom I have worked earlier, then it’s a bonus. A film like Mon Chora, based on Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s story of the same name, is a performance-driven film. So, it’s always better working with actors who are familiar with my filmmaking style.
Why did you decide to make a film on Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s story Mon Chora?
I will keep making Feluda films, because of its undying appeal. People eagerly wait to watch him solve cases. But I have also wanted to make non-Feluda films. However, things changed. I started making Feluda films a bit late. After a couple of films I realised that Sabyasachi Chakraborty had started aging and decided to make back-to-back Feluda films. Later, we roped in Abir to play Feluda and made Badshahi Angti (2014). I knew that age is on Abir’s side and now we can wait for some time to make another Feluda film.
This is a romantic drama and a few moments in the story intrigued me. Sharadin-dubabu had beautifully sketched those moments in his story. There’s a human angle to this story. This story can easily be set in today’s time. Not all Sharadindubabu’s stories can be brought alive on big screen. I also discovered Sharadindubabu in a different way. We need to go through his other stories, besides Byomkesh Bakshi, and discover the author.
In fact, when I was planning to direct Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy, which comprised four stories, I read a lot of Sharadindubabu’s works.
Have you deviated from the original text?
I generally don’t make too many changes when I adapt a literary piece. This time too, I have followed the text and tried to keep the essence of original text intact. Since I have set the story in today’s time, I have shown how technology has become a part of our lives. For example: the characters are seen using mobile phones.
Even most of your non-Feluda films have been thrillers.
I have an inclination towards thrillers. And I don’t think too many good thrillers are made in Bengali. I believe, till date we haven’t attempted a proper thriller in Bengali. I liked the thriller element in Mon Chora. The story is simple, but the characters are layered. There are no songs in the film.
You have also expressed your desire of making a Byomkesh Bakshi film in your earlier interviews.
Not now. Right now, too many Byomkesh Bakshi films are being made. And, honestly, I don’t know if any of the rights of the stories from the Byomkesh Bakshi series is yet unsold.
You have also wanted to make Professor Shonku on big screen for the longest time.
I have a strong desire of making a film on Shonku (a fictional scientist created by Satyajit Ray). Firstly, Shonku has never been attempted on any medium. If I make a film on Shonku, then it has to be in English. In fact, I have always had Dhritimaan Chatterjee as Professor Shonku in my mind. Also, Shonku needs to be made on a huge canvas and will be a big-budget film. It requires foreign locations, special effects and foreign actors too (since most of Shonku’s friends hail from foreign countries).
Both Feluda and Byomkesh Bakshi are favourites with Bengalis. Do you feel, we have forgotten the other literary heroes when it comes to adaptations?
I don’t think so. Shonku has a great fan following. I am often inundated with phone calls from fans who want to see Shonku on big screen.