Interview: Film-Maker Madhubanti Mukherjee on Her Directorial Debut "60 ML" (Bengali, 2011)

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poster: 60 mlCalcutta, May 25, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Once when Madhubanti Mukherjee was in her early teens, her father took her to the theater to watch a Hollywood film, and happened to mention to her that the cinematographer of that film was a woman. Today, Madhubanti is a rapidly upcoming cinematographer herself, and is now directing her own film titled 60 ML which will be released under the banner of Out Of Box Entertainment of Kolkata shortly. Ananya Paul caught up with Madhubanti in Kolkata to chat about her new film, her background, experience and other present and upcoming projects.

When writer-director Arin Paul (interview) read out the script of 60ML to Madhubanti, she instinctively knew she had to make a film on it. 60 ML is the measurement of a peg or a shot of an alcoholic drink. The film tells a story of five days of a man who was instigated by his drinking buddies into alcohol and who subsequently starts to drink obsessively. The incidents that this man, who begins to relate everything and everyone with alcohol, goes through and a final surprise twist to the story are portrayed in the film.

60ML is Madhubanti's debut film as a director, though she has been directly involved with film-making as an assistant director with Arin Paul and Sudeshna Roy (interview) and has also observed cinematographers and directors like Avik Mukherjee (interview) and the late Soumak Mukherjee.

The star cast of 60 ML is lead by Joyraj Bhattacharya, a well-known theater actor who has previously appeared in memorable roles in films like Suman Mukhopadhyay's (interview) Herbert, and film-maker Q - Quaushiq Mukherjee's (interview) Bish and Gandu. The remaining cast consists of folks who are not really professional actors, but friends and acquaintances of Madhubanti.

Madhubanti belongs to a family that is intimately involved with movies - her father Sumanta Mukherjee is a renowned actor with over two-hundred films, a number of tele-films and TV serials to his credit, and has worked as associate director with Rituparno Ghosh in many of Rituparno's movies. Sumanta also directed the popular television serial "Aashtha". Her uncle (Santu Mukherjee), cousin Swastika Mukherjee (interview) and grandfather are all renowned actors. She is a literature graduate and studied cinematography at Digital Academy and film appreciation in Mumbai, the latter at Subhash Ghai's elite Whistling Woods International film school. Currently she is also assisting Rituparno Ghosh (interview) with his film Chitrangada which is in post-production, and a bunch of advertising films.

Madhubanti describes how her training in cinematography helps her in direction, touching upon the importance of understanding the technical aspects of film-making and not having to completely depend on the cinematographer. She has shot a few ad films and short films as well as a behind-the-scenes Making of Chitrangada film as a cinematographer.

Other than her passion for films, Madhubanti also loves to sing, dance and play the violin. In fact, do not miss Madhubanti's unique rap-influenced adaptation of the classic film song "Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoye".

Madhubanti hints at the possibility of another short film by her after 60 ML, before she returns to Mumbai where she is based in. 

Check out some stills from 60ML.

[still from 60ML - a film by Madhubanti Mukherjee]
[still from 60ML - a film by Madhubanti Mukherjee]
[still from 60ML - a film by Madhubanti Mukherjee]
[still from 60ML - a film by Madhubanti Mukherjee]

Ananya Paul is a journalist and senior producer of a major television news channel in Calcutta.

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