Srijit is back in Puja with a double bonanza – theatrical release of Dawshom Awbotaar and a web series, Durgo Rawhoshyo on Hoichoi.
Srijit Mukherji turns a year younger on September 23. After months of gruelling shooting schedules, and pre and post-productions of several projects, the filmmaker took some time off to celebrate a pre-birthday bash at his in-laws’ in Dhaka. The promotion of his film Dawsham Awbotaar and his web series Durgo Rawhoshyo will start in full swing and in no time. But now, he is gorging on Dhaka’s culinary extravaganza. “I took a small break before all that busy schedule and enjoyed good food,” the director said.
Srijit is back in Puja with a double bonanza – a film and a web series. In 2018, his Ek Je Chilo Raja was a massive hit. After a break of five years, he is set to bring Dawsham Awbotaar (Dawsham) this festive season. With Prosenjit Chatterjee, Anirban Bhattacharya, Jaya Ahsan, and Jisshu U Sengupta, the filmmaker is set to launch a cop-universe drama with Dawsham. Besides, his web series Durgo Rawhoshyo which features Anirban Bhattacharya as Byomkesh and Sohini Sarkar as Satyabati, will also be dropped on Hoichoi. In a chat with OTTplay, the director talked about his work, life with his wife Rafiath Rashid Mithila, and his birthday resolution to lose weight. Read on…
Tell us about your birthday plan…
I’ll be at home all day. In the evening, there is a small gathering of friends. That’s about it…
And any Birthday resolution?
(Laughs) I will have to eat a little less and hit the gym to reduce weight. I have started working on it already. I will have to cut down on red meat and walk. Taking care of health is imminent.
After years you are back in Puja with a major release. Besides, there is also a web series release. How excited are you?
Yes, there are two releases on the same day. Earlier, I had releases within a few weeks or so but this will be the first time when two of my projects will be released on the same day.
A Pujo release is very important for me. I have a 100% track record with my Puja releases with all of them being blockbusters. There was a time when some friends used to call me ‘Sharodiya Srijit (Durga Puja-special Srijit)’.
Releasing my films on Durga Puja has been going on for a while. A generation of youngsters watched my films in Puja. They have nostalgia attached to it. Hence, a Puja release is a cultural consciousness for me. There is and always will be a difference between Puja release and non-Puja release.
Tell us about Dawsham Awbotaar… how and when was it incepted?
Dawshom came to my mind during Dwitiyo Purush. After the film was made, Bumbada (Prosenjit Chatterjee) called and asked why Probir Roychowdhury (Prosenjit’s character in Baishe Srabon) was not there in Dwitiyo Purush. Now, Probir Roychowdhury cannot exist in a sequel of Baishe Srabon as he blew off his head by the end of the film. He can only come in a prequel, if any. That’s how I started thinking of Dawshom. Then Srikant (Mohta, producer) said, ‘Let’s do something big,’ and I thought this would be the right time to make the first cop universe film in Bengal. I like the idea of a cop universe film. I enjoy watching them. I found it exciting to bring these two worlds of Probir Roychowdhury and Bijoy Poddar together.
But why Bijoy Poddar?
During Vinci Da, I noticed the incredible popularity of Poddar. While Ritwick Chakraborty and Rudranil Ghosh share the longest screen time, Bijoy Poddar’s character receives love. The number of memes that were generated with Poddar’s dialogues was incredible. That is why I thought of bringing these two iconic films together.
You are back to working with Jisshu after years. You two parted ways and some tiff between you two was widely reported in the media. Now that you are back, how do you feel?
Jisshu is a much more evolved actor today. Earlier, he used to be an instinctive actor and used to surrender to the director. Now, he has turned into a thinking actor, keeping the trait of being an instinctive actor intact. Now he gives options to the director. ‘What do you want? Should I do it like this or that?’ And I can tell him to choose between two styles. That makes it easier. And Jisshu has become more evolved from his experience working in different industries.
Talking about Dawsham, according to many, you started the film pretty late. You started after completing Durgo Rawhoshyo. Was there any time constraint at all?
I see a lot of people get worried about the time I take to make a film. I feel it is pointless. I only start a film if I know I have sufficient time to make it happen up to my expectations. I don’t commit to a project otherwise. So if I am doing it, I know I am doing it in my own time. Dawshom, as I told you, was written long ago. Now we are ready with the film.
Among other things, your relationship with your wife Mithila is always under the scanner. If you are breaking up, if she is going back to Dhaka – you are constantly in the news. How do you handle it?
I see it as an occupational hazard. No matter what, there will be media people speculating about my marital status so that the headlines sell. Some years back I understood that if I am bothered about such speculations my mental peace will go for a toss. I ignore it. Mithila is also an actress and she has been in the limelight for a long time. She also knows how not to be bothered about such speculations. I am in my in-laws’ house now, enjoying my time. I am gorging on good food – morning, noon, and night. Mithila and my sisters-in-law will be there at my birthday party. I don’t get to visit Dhaka much. But I am enjoying every moment here.
You have another Puja release – Byomkesh’s Durgo Rawhoshyo in Hoichoi… Tell us about that…
It was one of the toughest shootings in terms of the temperature. We shot in summer and it was maddening heat. We shot in stone castles with gigantic steps. Climbing up and down in that heat 10 times a day wasn’t easy. It was crazy there.
How did it shape up?
Durgo Rawhoshyo is ideal for the big screen. Since this is an OTT project, there was a budget crunch – we had less than half of the film budget. Now, you can capture the magnanimity through visual scale and the scale of writing and performance. Visual scale, which is dependent on budget, is compensated with the writing and performance in this case.
There was a time when you were to direct Durgo Rohoshyo on the big screen. Do you feel bad that you could not?
No. I don’t. Something is there that is more important to me. That is space. I work less in Mumbai. It is because in Mumbai, there are many stakeholders and hence, many opinions. In Kolkata, the stakeholders are less, and hence, the opinions are also less. I like to work in my own space where I don’t have to compromise with what I want. My creative space is sacrosanct to me.
You, Anirban Bhattacharya, and Sohini Sarkar attended the trailer launch of Birsa Dasgupta and Dev’s Byomkesh O Durgo Rohoshyo. So they will join your team also?
Of course. Birsa, Dev, and all of them will come. It is a wrong idea that we are at a loggerhead and constantly fighting. This is one industry and a family that has space for everyone.
Did you watch Byomkesh O Durgo Rohosyo?
No. I did not get time. I missed watching many films. I will have to catch up.
Padatik, your film on Mrinal Sen, is ready. When are you planning to release it?
It has gone for a festival round. We are planning to release it next year during Mrinal Sen’s birth anniversary. This will be the culminating film of his centenary celebration.