Interview: Srijit Mukherji on Romantic Satire "Hemlock Society" (2012): "Hemlock has a poetic sound to it"

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Srijit Mukherji, Rupam Islam & Anupam Roy at Hemlock Society (Bengali, 2012) Music Release in KolkataWashington, DC, June 18, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) One of the most eagerly anticipated Bengali movies of the year is Srijit Mukherji’s third feature film "Hemlock Society" (2012). The Parambrata Chatterjee - Koel Mullick starrer is all set to hit the theaters on the 22nd of June. Arijit Chakraborty caught up once again with the ace filmmaker (at 2:30 am Kolkata time!) to chat with Srijit about the idea behind and making of his uniquely titled new movie, his expectations from Hemlock Society and a whole lot more.

Srijit had not initially planned to make Hemlock Society and had, in fact, been harboring ideas of another film. However, as fate would have it, he came across an interesting individual about four months back, a person having a very intriguing and inspiring perspective on life and death which appealed to Srijit no end. The character Ananda (Parambrata Chatterjee) is actually modeled on that person.

The seeds of the story of Hemlock Society, however, were sown in Srijit's mind around three years ago when he was researching for a play. During that time the filmmaker had come to know of several institutions and societies that taught people about the correct methods and technicalities of assisted suicide, like the Hemlock Society of Santa Monica, California (now a part of Compassion & Choices).

Trailer: Hemlock Society (Bengali, 2012) - A Film by Srijit Mukherji

Apart from the sense of tragedy that the term Hemlock carries with it (Socrates, the celebrated Greek philosopher, had famously been sentenced to death by Hemlock poison, the sentence carried out by Socrates himself), the name of this plant also had a ‘poetic ring’ to it, says Srijit. He has actually been thinking of making a movie titled Hemlock Society since 2009, and the story coalesced into a script and screenplay (all penned by Srijit) only after he met the above-mentioned person.

Other than Parambrata Chatterjee and Koel Mullick, Hemlock Society also boasts of Dipankar De, Anindita Bose, Saheb Chatterjee, Shilajit and Roopa Ganguli in the star cast. Interesting cameos from noted actors like Soumitra Chatterjee, Barun Chanda, Sabitri Chatterjee, Sudeshna Roy, Sohag Sen and Priyanka are expected. Raj Chakrabarty and Bratya Basu also have guest appearances in Hemlock Society.

Letting our listeners have a sneak peek into the story of Hemlock Society, Srijit describes the film as revolving around an institution (Hemlock Society) run by Ananda (Parambrata Chatterjee), where people are advised on effective and proper methods of taking their own lives. Meghna (Koel Mullick) is one of the students at this organization. The young lady has recently lost her job and has also suffered a torrid break-up. The harrowing incidents have left Meghna with no will to carry on living. Over the course of time, Ananda and Meghna develop a unique and close bond over topics related to life and death. The movie relates the incidents which happen next.

Categorizing Hemlock Society as a romantic satire, Srijit said that this is a genre that has not been explored much in Bengali cinema. In particular, the director pointed out that the climax of the movie has generous elements of satire and dark comedy in it.

Srijit's earlier movies (Autograph and Baishe Srabon) have been typified by excellent musical scores, and there is every reason to expect Hemlock Society to score big on this count too. Anupam Roy has composed the music for the new film and Srijit praises the music director for doing a truly excellent job. Srijit had pushed Anupam Roy to expand his musical horizons and prowess and the results have been more than satisfactory. Describing the music album (soundtrack) of the movie as ‘versatile’, the filmmaker said that there were songs of multiple varieties in the film. Srijit sounds like a contented man as he says that he is happy with the sound of Hemlock Society. The music has been released and most of the songs are already available legally for listening via Youtube.

The successes of Autograph and Baishe Srabon have heightened expectations from Hemlock Society and Srijit, who expresses confidence that his latest film would also be liked by critics and general viewers alike. While Srijit is thankful to viewers for adoring his earlier works, he was not quite in favor of thinking too much about the fate of his films, since that hampers his concentration on making a film. By his own admission, all that Srijit wants to do is to tell a story in his own way through a movie. If recognition and adulation came along, there would, of course, be nothing like it. In this context, Srijit fondly recalls the Star Ananda Shera Bangali award, and how the numerous other awards that his previous films have received only spurs him on to take up bigger, better projects.

Every movie-buff is looking forward to the release of Hemlock Society and the director would surely be completing his hat-trick of hits with this novel flick.

(Article by Penning Creations)