Seven years ago director Raj Chakraborty introduced Rahul and Priyanka in Bengali film industry with Chirodini Tumi Je Amar. The romantic film broke all box office records and established Chakraborty as one of the most sought-after filmmakers in the Bengali film industry. From then on, Chakraborty has introduced a steady stream of newcomers such as Soham, Nusrat Jahan and Bonny Sengupta. This year he is introducing another new face, Koushani in Parbona Ami Charte Toke (PACT). The Bojhena Sey Bojhena director speaks to HT on romantic films, his love life and more.
It's been a year since you introduced Bonny Sengupta in Borbaad. What changes have you noticed in him since then?
He has matured (as a person). When I launched him in Borbaad he was childish. After the release of the film, he assisted me on Yoddha.
Borbaad didn't do well at the box office. Did that bother you?
No. But I think passionate love stories such as Chirodini Tumi Je Amar or Prem Amar are an ideal launch pad for newcomers. In case of Bonny, we tried to project him as an 'action hero'… yes, Borbaad didn't meet our expectations. I guess that's because the storyline of Borbaad revolved around a bike. But Bonny had given his 100 per cent in Borbaad and I started liking him since then. There were also negative reactions in the industry regarding Bonny after the release of the film.
What kind of negative reactions?
There was talk that Bonny didn't create any impact. Then, I thought let's make another film with him. Now, there's a huge buzz around PACT and Bonny. The hero generally has a larger-than-life image in Indian cinema. In Bonny, the industry will get its boy-next-door hero.
Was he upset after the release of Borbaad?
No. I don't think he even felt anything around that time. Borbaad's box office collection did reach break-even but he didn't get enough popularity after the release.
You have enrolled him in acting workshops and dance classes.
I told him that an actor should be prepared to do anything on the big screen. He had a year's time with him, I advised him to use the time well. So, he joined a gym, took acting and dance classes. I also asked him to watch as many films as possible.
Parbona Ami Charte Toke was a popular track from Borbaad. Earlier, in Prem Amar, the track Bojhena Sey Bojhena, was also a hit. It seems you get the title of your next film from the songs.
I try to dig out a title from the songs. Honestly, in commercial Bengali films, the title needs to be catchy and easy on the ear. Audiences should be easily able to relate to those titles and get an understanding of the film. May be, my next film might be Lolona (PACT's most popular track is Lolona).
Your debut film, Chirodini Tumi Je Amar (2008), was a love story with boy-next-door and girl-next-door characters. PACT, too, has similar characters.
No, here the storyline and concept are completely different. I agree both the films have boy-next-door characters but the impact of the film will not be similar. Chirodini was a tragic love story and this is a rom-com. It has a lot of fun and colourful moments. The film is about two childhood buddies who understand they are in love when one of them is about to get married.
What made launch Koushani Mukherjee in the film?
Koushani had earlier auditioned for a film for the same production house, which has produced PACT. But she was rejected. When we thought of introducing a new girl in PACT, I contacted the production house and asked if they had anyone in mind. They told me about Koushani. She was called again. She had never acted before and was continuously speaking in English. I gave her a script in Bengali and told her to come after a few days. When she turned up, she knew the script by heart. I liked her approach towards work. Later, I did a workshop with her for a month. During that time, she wasn't even selected for the film. After grooming her, teaching her how to face the camera, I did a photo shoot with her. I didn't let her know that it was basically the look test for the film. I asked her to click selfies during the photo shoot and that's how we got our first poster for the film. I have worked with newcomers and I know how to extract work from them.
You are known for making romantic films. What does love mean to you?
It's a place where the moment you go you feel connected, at peace and forget all the worries of the world. It's a place where you are forgiven for your wrong deeds, where there is clarity and respect.
Are you in love?
When was the last time you fell in love?
Three years ago.
That I won't tell. But I fell in love three years ago and I am still there.
Rahul (Chirodini Tumi Je Amar): He is one of the most talented actors I have seen so far.
Priyanka (Chirodini Tumi Je Amar): Priyanka would have been one of the best heroines of Tollywood. She has immense talent and potential.
Soham (Prem Amar): Talented but lazy
Mimi Chakraborty (Bojhena Sey Bojhena): Uncommon
Nusrat Jahan (Shatru): Intelligent and knows how to groom herself
Ritika (Borbaad): Too young
Paayel Sarkar (Prem Amar): Professional
Bonny Sengupta (Borbaad): He is like my brother.
Koushani (Parbona Ami Charte Toke): Expressive