Interview: Director Arunava Khasnobis on Bengali Movie "Bhalobasha Off Route E" & His Background and Future Plans in Tollywood

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Arunabha KhasnobisWashington DC, Sep 9, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Film-maker Arunava Khasnobis chats with Esha Basu Roy about his journey into Tollywood, the recent invigoration of Bengali film and his upcoming films, and of course, his debut Bengali feature film "Bhalobasha Off Route-ey".

Arunava credits his parents, both of whom are creative arts and music enthusiasts and performers, and his upbringing for his foray into the world of film-making. His father introduced him to the world of cinema early on - he watched Ray's Pather Panchali multiple times at various stages of his life starting at 8.

Arunava also took to creative writing as a kid, and is a prolific writer. His introduction to direction was accidental - he has been acting live on stage in theater productions, and once in his early days, the director of such a production fell sick and Arunava was tasked with directing that play.

Arunava thus discovered his knack for direction. Subsequently, he would grab his handy-cam and start making short films with his buddies helping him, learning from his mistakes in the field as there was little scope of formal training in film-making in the town of Siliguri where he grew up.

Arriving in the metropolis of Calcutta to earn a living, Arunava continued to explore film-making. With the support of his good friend and the powerful actor Rudranil Ghosh (who recently delivered a spectacular performance in Chaplin (Bengali, 2011) which Sounak Mukhopadhyay reviewed in this post) and keen observation of films being made on the floor, he was ready to make his own full-length Bangla feature film. In a way, says Arunava, this experimental hands-on knowledge worked well for him, since he is free of restrictions imposed by formal training.

Arunava is one of the, if not the, youngest film-maker in Calcutta's Tollywood Bengali film industry today. He dwells upon the recent sea-change in the quality and audience viewership of Bengali films ushered in by a slew of young film-makers with fresh ideas and techniques. As you know, Srijit Mukherji (interview) and a bunch of new film-makers broke through stagnated Bengali cinema with sparkling next-generation movies. Today, a majority of successful Bengali films are being made by the new crop of writers and directors. Arunava notes that this phenomenon has actually started in Mumbai's Bollywood industry earlier than Kolkata, with film-makers like Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee ushering in the change.

Bhalobasha Off Route Ay - Bengali Movie PosterBhalobasa Off Route-Ey is primarily an entertaining film with a lot to do with football (soccer). It is set in an imaginary village of Chandiphanta and is the story of two big-city boys connecting with local girls and some incidents on the soccer field. The film and it's characters border fairy-tale fantasy - the village itself is imagined to be located far from well known routes, thus giving the film it's title.

The star cast of Bhalobasha Off Route-Ay includes Rahul, Saswata Chatterjee, Rudranil Ghosh, Abhiraj, Kharaj Mukherjee, Kanchan Mullick, Tanusree Chakraborty, Parijat, Partha Sarathi Deb, Sudarshana and Padmanabha Dasgupta - the latter is the renowned film writer who acts in the film as well. Unlike many directors, Arunava does not make a cameo appearance in the film and says he did not really want to do that in his first film, but given his acting background, might play roles in his subsequent films.

Shot on locations in Kolkata and Bolpur, the "graph of the film fluctuates from comedy to a serious track and vice versa." Bhalobasha Off-Route-E is expected to have a release date hust after Durga Puja 2011. It is written by Padmanava Dasgupta and Arunava Khasnobis, and features music by Debarpito.

Talking about his next film which Arunava has just started the pre-production of, he indicates the yet unnamed film will showcase some talented but relatively lesser known young actors like Prasun Gayen and Parthasarathi Chakraborty. The idea that Bengali films need star presence to succeed already stands challenged, and Arunava wishes to explore the acting abilities of young upcoming talented actors.

Here is wishing Arunava Khasnobis great success from Washington Bangla Radio !

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