Interview: Director Sourav Mukherjee on Bengali Movies ZAMEEN (2011) & ANURADHA EKA
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Washington DC, Oct 30, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Sourav Mukhopadhyay is a great theater enthusiast and has made numerous films for TV channels from the mid 1990s. Zameen (Bengali, 2011) is his first full-length feature film. Before commencing on making films, Sourav and his theater group have presented many nationally and internationally acclaimed theater productions, and has performed on stage across the world. Sourav chats with Arijit Chakraborty about his career in film-making and the film Zameen in a greater context of how land-owners are affected in the recent construction boom of highrise apartment buildings in and around Kolkata.
Sourav draws a very interesting parallel to the difference between news-papers and books while describing the challenges in making a full-length feature and a tee-film.
Zameen, or Jamin or Jomin, is a Bengali word that refers to land-owners. The word was in mainstream use till just before the rule of Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah. (1729 - 1757). Sourav describes how he strives to use celluloid as a means of expressing his emotions and rebellion against prevalent social trends, which often results in films that are of a different kind with a strong message.
The real-estate development boom in all rapidly growing Indian cities, including Kolkata, are resulting in a congestion of multi-storied buildings in previously natural serene areas. Lakes, open fields and playgrounds are disappearing rapidly - kids are being forced to play on the rooftops of buildings.
Zameen focuses on the impact on the owners of the land that thee buildings are being constructed. The land is given away by the owners sometimes under pressure or duress, at other times by sweet-sounding deals. Such deals may take the form of dedicating a part of the building to the land-owner's name, or such perks - but the fact remains that the land was given by the owner under pressure in the first place, often times for a much lower price than the real value unless the land-owner had the proper contacts in the political system.
The events in Zameen are centered around a septuagenarian woman, owner of a big chunk of land in a small town not far from the city. She stands up against huge pressure put on by the political-criminal nexus, and her strong opposition results in her murder with her body found at the railway tracks. Her son and daughter-in-law are then put through tremendous pressure to sell the property.
Zameen stars veteran actress Supriya Devi who portrays the septuagenarian mother, Dulal Lahiri as the real-estate promoter, Sunil Mukherjee as a senior resident of the town, Dolon Roy has portrayed three phases of a woman's life - wife, mother and senior member of the family, Oindrila Chakraborty as the daughter-in-law, Sambhu Chakraborty as a businessman of different shades with a business in Burrabazar, and others.
The film has eight songs - one popular prabhati sangeet and seven Rabindrasangeet songs all performed true to Tagore's compositions. Singers include Tarun Sarkar, Moitreyiee, Subhashish Das Sharma, Shiuli Pal and Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta.
Sourav's next film is titled ANURADHA EKA. It is a story of a woman who is most valued for her monetary status and her ability to support the financial needs of everyone around her - her family, friends and society. Spectacularly successful as an internationally acclaimed danseuse, she however is a very lonely woman, since the moment her relationships transcend her financial status, she finds herself alone.
Here are some production stills from Zameen (Bengali, 2011):
The following is quoted from the official synopsis of Sourav's upcoming full-length debut Bengali feature film Zameen:
"ZAMEEN - the beloved land is based on a story by Sangita Misra. A story of the period of thirty to thirty five years ago, Palashpur – a small town just beside Kolkata. A beautiful canvas - surrounded by small ponds, sandy road, various trees – where a small building of some land and also the events will be illustrated as a prime topic if the story.
The main characters of the story - Shiben, mother of Shiben – Shovarani, beloved wife of Shiben – Basabti and the only son of Shiben – Amar. A small grocery shop is the main earning source of Shiben’s family. After the death of his father, Shiben bound to receive all the financial responsibilities of the family through this shop. Everyone of the village likes Shiben. Above all Shiben manages his family needs.
The only child Amar, receives the progress report of class four and bears the rank first, Shiben came to the house from Amar’s school and Basanti, Shovarani was blessing Amar for the outstanding result. Next morning Shiben made a programme to move Kolkata Barabazar for purchasing grocery materials as well as others family needs, any essential needs for the neighbor and a cricket bat for Amar. All day long, the house hold works managed by, both of Basabti and her mother in law. They had beautiful relation, Shovarani behaved as an own mother to Basanti and Basanti also thought the same.
All on a sudden, turmoil arose, the day to day smooth family life smashed away. To purchase the grocery materials average in a week Shiben went to Kolkata Barabazar. In morning Shiben moved through train and regularly back at evening but one that day the routine was collapsed. Evening to night, night to mid night, mid night to the next morning – Shiben would not come back. Tremendous anxiety of the family, everyone sleepless, no movement – whole family waiting for extreme inquisitiveness. Two police officers came in next morning from Palashpur Thana – reported regarding an accident in N.S.C Bose Road, named Shiben Banerjee, need an identification etc. Shiben disappeared.
Another new phase appeared in front of Basanti. Young Basanti prepared herself for a new phase. Day to day activities of the family i.e. education of Child Amar, help to aged mother in low Shovarani, to manage the grocery shop, to arrange the grocery materials from Barabazar, the ugly looks of a few neighbors, avoid to unscrupulous lucrative approaches etc. was overcome alone.
Day by day she faced all of hindering. Now she is in middle aged. Amar now adult, engaged in good Govt. service, Amar’s wife Madhumita, very sweet, she also engage service in another concern – Basanti Davi leads a happy family.
After that thirty five years that urban made a massive change. Those ponds replaced through multistoried, road covered by mastic asphalt, the small yellow light replaced through halogen or sodium vapor, but does not change that Basanti Davi’s house though it was repaired but not multistoried. That grocery shop is changed as stationary cum grocery shop.
Another character of this story – Pramod Ranjan Samanta, the Promoter, very gentle person, helpful, very close to the leading political leaders. Middle aged Promod Babu advised to Basanti Davi as a neighbor to make a decision for promoting but Basanti Davi was not responded. Again an again Promod Babu requested to Basanti Davi and Amar but failed. Basanti Davi, Amar and her sister in law decided to start their house remodeled. It was also informed, to the Promod Babu.
One day, Basanti Davi attacked by low presser, sugar and misbalanced in her shop premises. She was admitted to near Hospital and after some check-up she advised to be released within seven days. But Basanti Davi suddenly disappeared from Hospital – immediately informed to police, media, and other Govt. sectors but was not noticed how and where Basanti Davi disappeared? After a few days her crippled dead body in a bag would be recognized just beside of near rail line. This is the end of Basanti Davi’s episode.
Promod Samanta managed all of the hazards through political leader and muscle power. Amar and her pregnant wife Madhumita will feel to face a new pressure. Amar bound to sign for promoting their house through Promod Babu bearing two conditions – one the name of the apartment will ‘Basnti Appartment’, two – a tree named swaptaparni, which was planted by Basanti Davi will not be replaced or cut.
Another new multi-storied of smart, gallant, beautiful architect, has been made. In a modest glamorous party, Promod Babu handed over the first key to Amar and Madhumita. The renowned political leader opened the flat – named Basanti Appartment."
A Bengali Feature Film
Team back to the Camera
Presented by - SD Movies 2011
Story – Sangita Misra
Script – Manab Mukhopadhyay
Cinematographer – Mondal B.
Background Music & Editor – Raj Singh Sidhu
Production Controller – Dinesh Kumar Agarwal
Sound Recordist – Rupak Das
Produced By – Umesh Kumar Agarwal
Director – Sourav Mukhopadhyay