Interview: Director Reshmi Mitra on Big-Budget Tollywood Bengali Action Thriller MACHO MUSTAFA (2012)

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Tollywood Hero Hiran Chatterji, Director Reshmi Mitra and Bengali Actress Puja - Macho Mustafa (2012) Bengali FilmKolkata, February 1, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) The name of Reshmi Mitra features prominently among the current crop of young, talented directors who are working at present in the Bengali movie industry. Mitra had earlier directed films like ‘Bhalobasha Zindabad’ (2009) and ‘Piriti Kanthaler Aatha’ (2011). In a candid conversation with interviewer Arijit Chakraborty of WBRi, Mitra talks about her ambitious upcoming Tollywood Kolkata Bengali movie ‘Macho Mostafa’, her work ethics and movie-making techniques and much, much more.

(Picture: From left - Hiran, Reshmi and Puja)

The interview started off on a cordial note, with Reshmi Mitra exchanging pleasantries with the interviewer. The director also explained how wrapped up in work she was, with her next big release, ‘Macho Mustafa’, being in the final stages of post-production. The promotional campaigns for this big-budget commercial flick were also in full flow, as a result of which the director was being forced to frequently shuttle between Kolkata and Chennai. Mitra had been interviewed by WBRi almost a year ago regarding her earlier films and it was indeed pleasant to have her back after a brief hiatus.

Reshmi Mitra turns philosophical while talking about her work ethics and passion for making good-quality films. While her method and commitment towards direction had remained the same over time, Mitra revealed that she had often been crippled by budgetary constraints in her earlier directorial venture. Fortunately, the director faced no such problems while making ‘Macho Mustafa’ and that really helped her in making just the type of movie that she wanted. Reshmi Mitra also sounded confident that the audience would love the package of entertainment value that she had been able to incorporate in ‘Macho Mustafa’, which has the biggest budget in the history of Bengali cinema.

The analytic side of director Reshmi Mitra came to the fore while discussing the factors that are influenced by budgetary issues in a film. For starters, the long-standing desire of the director to make an ‘out & out action movie’ could be realized, thanks to the ready availability of funds. ‘Macho Mustafa’ has as many as 21 action sequences (now, that’s an impressive number!) and it indeed cost quite a fortune to shoot those scenes in a realistic and stylish manner.

Coming to the technical aspects of the movie, Reshmi Mitra said that ‘Macho Mustafa’ had been shot in the ‘Super 35’ format. Directing movies in this format had always been a dream of Mitra, given that it allows filmmakers to add that extra dash of sleekness and realism in their movies (this also showed what a stickler for perfection Reshmi Mitra is!). The camera with which the movie had been shot had been brought in from Mumbai and that had cost a decent buck as well. The production unit of ‘Macho Mustafa’ had as many as 120 members and all of them (including the junior artists with simple, walk-on role in the movie) had been brought under the systematic costing method followed by Mitra while making the movie. The big budget of the movie had also allowed the director to spend as much money as required on costumes – a matter of relief for Reshmi Mitra, who had often been forced to use her own dresses in her previous films (that does not tell much about her earlier flicks, but speaks volumes about her commitment towards lending credibility to her movies)! Rohit Verma, the noted costume designer from Mumbai, had been roped in for ‘Macho Mustafa’ and this fact itself shows what wonders budgetary freedom can do for an ambitious director.

Tollywood Hero Hiran and New Bengali Movie Actress Pooja Bose
Hiran & Puja

In the interview, Reshmi Mitra also revealed that one of the song sequences in ‘Macho Mustafa’ took as much as Rs. 1.5 lakhs for its shooting (clearly underlining how lavishly the film had been treated by its director!). Mitra also said that she had used multiple colors and styles in several frames of the movie. The director recounts a fond anecdote, when the producer of ‘Macho Mustafa’ had visited the sets of the movie in Chennai and had commented that it appeared that Mitra was indeed creating an attractive painting in the frames of ‘Macho Mustafa’. The director oozes with confidence as she reiterates her belief that viewers would not find any notable fault in the movie.

Reshmi Mitra expressed her constant efforts to combine the right combination of sound storyline and melodious music (which were inevitably a highlight of most movies of yore) and contemporary action sequences, dance numbers and ‘modern dresses’. The director stated that ‘Macho Mustafa’ would be targeted to the entire family audience. Indeed, the director sounded confident that her film would have enough of old-world charm and quality (along with, of course, modern moviemaking techniques!) to make viewers from older generations experience a distinct feeling of nostalgia. In this regard, ‘Macho Mustafa’ would be a class apart from standard Tollywood commercial fare, as stated by Mitra.

Moving on to the main details of ‘Macho Mustafa’ (which is slated to hit the screens on the 3rd of March), Reshmi Mitra said that the movie told the story of a young man, ‘Nabab’, and his journey through the various vagaries of life. ‘Nabab’ hails from a lovable family and has all the pleasures of life. The hero meets the leading lady of the film, the two fall in love (but of course!), but the father of the heroine is against the idea of letting the romantic couple unite. The life of ‘Nabab’ is turned upside down as his family is destroyed by the vengeful ‘villain of the piece’. Faced with the harsh realities of life, ‘Nabab’ becomes determined to fulfill his life’s goals, win over his lady love and, in the process, make her father realize the mistakes he had made while standing in the path of the lovers. Mitra stated that, apart from entertaining the audience, the movie would send out a strong message to the viewers and would inspire them to realize the dreams that they often nurture but are seldom able to muster up enough courage to actively transform them into reality. Just as the leading man of ‘Macho Mustafa’ turns apparently insurmountable odds against him on their head, any common person could also stand up and fight to realize his/her dreams. The director hoped that ‘Macho Mustafa’ would be successful in portraying exactly how the bridge between dreaming and actually realizing one’s goals should be crossed.

As in any mainstream Bengali movie, music plays an integral part in ‘Macho Mustafa’ too. When questioned regarding this issue, Reshmi Mitra said that her new movie has 6 top-quality songs, each of them belonging to a different genre. The film has the talented Samidh Mukherjee as the music director, while Gautam-Susmit and Priyo Chattopadhyay had penned the lyrics for the film. The director also named Kunal Ganjawala, Shreya Ghoshal, Krishna, Sunidhi Chauhan and Monali Thakur (apart from Samidh himself!) as some of the singers who had lent their voices in the songs of ‘Macho Mustafa’. (now, that’s an impressive lineup!). The director also singled out a sufi song (expressing a crisis situation in the lives of the leading pair of the movie) for particular praise in terms of its sheer quality and fantastic picturization. ‘Macho Mustafa’ would also be one of the first Bengali films to have almost an entire song in Hindi. Mitra recounts how the tune and the lyrics of the song had been brought to her by Samidh and the instant liking she had taken to the number.

The discussion moved on to the cast and crew details of the film. Reshmi Mitra was lavish in her praise of Hiran, the leading man of ‘Macho Mustafa’. The actor, who would be seen in an all-new avatar in the movie, had put in hours of sheer hard work to build up the 8-pack body that he gets to flaunt in the movie. Mitra also revealed that the character of Hiran in the film had multiple shades (that sounds interesting!). Hiran had been helped along in his stiff work regime by an expert trainer and the director also appreciated the sincerity of Hiran during the rigorous 24-hour outdoor shoots and the song sequences shot at night.

The heroine of ‘Macho Mustafa’, Puja Bose, marks her debut in Bengali films with this movie. Reshmi Mitra had been scouting for a fresh face for the movie and Pooja, who had been working in serials in Mumbai, fitted the requirements of the character perfectly. Clearly impressed by the performance of Puja, Reshmi Mitra branded the young lady as ‘a very good actress’. The movie also had experienced actors like Arun Bannerjee, Ajit Ganguly, Debdut Ghosh and Arpita Dutta Chowdhury among the members of its cast. Sara Khan (of ‘Big Boss’ and ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’ fame) had also performed a sizzling item number in the movie. The presence of so many big names surely makes ‘Macho Mustafa’ one of the most ‘star-studded’ Bengali films of recent times.

The interview concluded with Reshmi Mitra being thanked for taking out time from her busy schedule to chat with Washington Bangla Radio. The director, on her part, was at her gracious best as the discussion session drew to a close.

We wish all the best to Reshmi Mitra and her latest directorial venture, ‘Macho Mustafa’. May the movie earn considerable critical acclaim and earn the big bucks at the box office!

Guest: Reshmi Mitra, Kolkata, India
Host: Arijit Chakraborty, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Article: Penning Creations, Kolkata, India
Audio Recording, Editing: Supratim Sanyal, Washington DC, USA

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