After National Award-winning Shabdo, director on new venture

Churni Ganguly and Victor Banerjee in the film Shabdo. Director Kaushik Ganguly (below) explains a scene to actress Raima Sen on

Churni Ganguly and Victor Banerjee in the film Shabdo. Director Kaushik Ganguly (below) explains a scene to actress Raima Sen on

The news is yet to sink in for good but the show must go on. Only three days have flown past after winning a much-harboured National Film Award recognition and the director is all set to step behind his camera and call the shots for his next movie, Apur Panchali. Critically-acclaimed Bengali filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly is certainly in a celebratory mood with his offbeat venture Shabdo resonating the right kind of noises by picking up a well-deserved Rajat Kamal (silver lotus) in the Best Bengali Film category.

But he has no time to rejoice it seems. While he as a director bags a silver medal along with a cash prize of one lakh, the sound-designer duo Anirban Sengupta and Dipankar Chaki wins a Rajat Kamal medal each for their outstanding sound-effect in the movie that centres around a folio artiste’s life and his works. Produced by Brand Value Communications, the film was premiered in Dubai Film Festival in December 2012. But how did he receive the tidings which lends him reason enough to feel proud of his teamwork? “Well, I was checking into an electronic-gadget parlour to get my TV repaired when suddenly on one of the television sets seen through the shop-window, I could catch the live announcement of the National film awards being aired. Imagine my luck and the perfect timing!
Along with my team assistants also present there, I went inside to watch the Press briefing. Much to our pleasant surprise, Shabdo was declared the best regional film from this side of the map. We were all so thrilled soon hearing the name. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting something like this to happen at all. But thank God, I feel amply blessed now that our concerted efforts have been well-acknowledged and rewarded by the country’s most prestigious jury and supreme authority of film awards,” he gushes with enthusiasm.
Navigating the travails of a sound artist in Bengali cine-industry, Shabdo pays a long-overdue tribute to those unsung heroes standing behind the scenes, who with time, easily fade into the oblivion of ignorance after delivering their goods to a movie which is meant to excel in every department, from its pre to post-production stages. “Keeping in mind the 100 years of Indian cinema, it was a small but a sincere attempt on our part to remember the painstaking toil of those overlooked technicians whose remarkable contribution makes a movie a flawless creation,” shares the humble helmer. The protagonist of the film — Tarok — is shown as a folio artiste, who being so overly obsessed with his work, loses a complete grip of words and his mind starts registering only folio sounds.
But how did the story of a folio artiste strike him in the first place and what prompted him to reel a screen-saga around it? “When I did my last movie Laptop, I could significantly understand the importance of ambient sounds and the effect it can generate on the senses. In fact I played a blind man myself in the film, wherein the character is supposed to possess an uncanny audible sense despite being deprived of the power of vision. Albeit lacking in his eyesight, he could smell a rat if any. So even if seeing is believing, you got to have the nose, ears and taste to sniff of something suspicious beyond the evidently perceptible. Thus, the germ of a sound-designer’s life and his labour for the craft evolved and the idea to weave a fictional script around it finally fell in place,” he summarises.
Talking about the significance of ambient sounds, the realistic filmmaker says: “Irrespective of the number of actors featured in a flick or a bulk of crew members working in a unit, there is only one folio artiste who has to accumulate a series of sound-effects for a particular film in process and design them in order. He has to execute the job precisely late at night amidst a pin-drop silence, as during the day, the surrounding studio-sounds may wreak havoc on the desirable sound-effects, thereby making his task even tougher. Hence, he must work in graveyard shifts for that immaculate result.” From clothes to glasses, paper to leaves, wood to rains, and what not on the studio-floors or at outdoor shoots, every sliver of a sound-effect is captured in the cautious scanner of a sound-artiste. He leaves nothing unheeded. “In case of sync sounds on the spot, the dialogues can be retained without dubbing at a different time and venue. But seamlessly sewing the sound-effects without a jerk is definitely a cumbersome work carried out by a folio artiste,” comments the director on subtle nuances of sound-designing.
Talented actor Ritwik Chakraborty essays the lead role, for whom the director makes a special mention. “He has done a commendable job which is of international standards. I wanted a very neutral, unassuming face which is not fresh to the camera yet has no pre-conceived notions in the audience’s mind. And Ritwik comfortably fitted the bill as he looked the part to the tee,” he notes. Boasting of an ensemble cast, the film also stars Raima Sen as Tarok’s wife, Churni Ganguly as a psychiatrist, veteran thespian Victor Banerjee, actor-filmmaker Srijit Mukherji among others.
While a much-speculated film on controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen’s cat titled Nirbashito is still on the cards, a project on the downtrodden dwarfs or midgets of the society is currently under discussion on the director’s desk. “I’m still researching on the area as the subject remains widely untouched and unexplored till date. A non-actor with acting potential and an ability to wholly surrender himself to the script’s demands will fairly justify the intrinsic essence of such a film,” he opines.
At present, the director peers through the viewfinder of his camera for Apur Panchali which has been adapted from the life of Subir Bandyopa-dhyay who as a child-actor had played Satyajit Ray’s Apu in the first part of the author’s masterpiece “Apu Trilogy” — Pather Panch-ali. “The movie is not a biopic but has snatches of a child-artiste’s life who once having basked in the limelight of a magnum opus gradually vanishes from the glory with offers drying up. Since Apu is a fabled character in the history of Bengali cinema, I have narrowed down on Subirda’s example.”

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