Amar Maa (2010) Goes to Cannes: Samir Banerjee, Sujoy Banerjee & Anyesha Das Share their Excitement (Interview)


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Germantown, Maryland, April 17, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) In the year 2001 a group of Indian-American professionals decided to form ‘SB Talkies’ pursuing their passion for movies and the art of making films. A decade later, a film of theirs has been selected for screening at the Short Film Corner at the revered Cannes International Film Festival, as well as festivals in New Zealand and Bangalore, India. The remarkable trio of young film-makers and producers Samir Banerjee, Sujoy Banerjee and Anyesha Das speak to Arijit Chakraborty on Washington Bangla Radio.

Samir Banerjee
Samir Banerjee

Samir Banerjee's Amar Maa (2010) stars Rachna Shah, Don Castro, Pallavi Desai, Uttara Desai and Avik Sur. The film is a Short Film Selection at Cannes. The cinematographer of Amar Maa is Katsumi Funahashi. The film has been shot on locations in New York City, New York.

Previous films by the trio include Junoon (2002) written by Sameer Banerjee, starring Suken Bhandari and directed by Sujoy Banerjee & Siddharth Sanghani; Sophie (2003) written and directed by Sameer Banerjee starring Preeti Pahwa, Omar Kapadia, Chiku; The Waiting (2004) written and directed by Sameer Banerjee, starring Kristen Childers, Avik Sur; and Gift Of Sight (2004) written and directed by Sameer Banerjee, starring Kristen, Laura, Sarah & Anoushka.

Sujoy Banerjee
Sujoy Banerjee

Samir Banerjee, the elder brother of Sujoy, went to school in Boston, holds a bachelors degree in marketing and a MBA degree in E-commerce. The passion for making movies was always there, it was Sujoy who seriously took the initiatives in the year 2000 and started bringing the team together that resulted in the magnificent creative works that followed. At that time it was a new team bubbling with energy but had little experience on film making and came from diverse professional backgrounds.

The idea of ‘Amar Ma’ occurred to Samir while waiting for a flight at an airport. Samir came across a short story written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in her book 'Arranged Marriage'. The story immediately caught the attention of Samir and he right-away contacted the author who willingly transferred film rights to him. Once the legalities were over, they started preparations for the filming. The cast selection was a huge job that took a long time and sorting through huge number of applicants.

The story narrates the tale of a single mother who raised her daughter in Kolkata. The doting mother carefully grooms her daughter who excels in her studies and goes to the US to complete her PhD. There she falls in love and marries,  but cannot inform her mother because of her mother's narrow social values. The guilt of hiding the fact stresses her relationship with her beau. The story has an unusual ending that will keep the audience glued to the seat. The story conveys positive as well as negative messages which are the prime attraction of the plot.

Anyesha Das
Anyesha Das

Anyesha, who grew up in Toronto, arrived in the United States with her father. She holds a MBA degree, like Samir. Her parents participated in all Bengali cultural programs and ensured that she never forgot her cultural roots. Anyesha could understand the passion and she jumped to the chance when Samir narrated the story to her. She wished to be a part of the film.

Sujoy was always planning new stories, portraying them on the screen and bubbling with ideas to execute new films. He was also thrilled about the potential of the film.

The crew of the film is of eclectic ethnic diversity - the way they gelled together to make the project a success was remarkable. The cinematographer was Japanese and the rest of the crew comprised of people of south-Asian and American background. It was a fabulous and enriching experience.