Apu Trilogy sees a closure with new movie Abhijatrik
• Is Abhijatrik an ode to Satyajit Ray, Apu or Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay?
This is not at all an ode to Satyajit Ray. This film is primarily the concluding part of the journey of Apu. If you read the novel Aparajito, two films were made on it- Aparajito and Apur Sansar. The journey of Apu remains incomplete in the last part of the trilogy. Even after Apu meets Kajol, there are almost 150 pages left in the text which was not filmed. You will find Apu returning to his ancestral home at Nishchindipur with Kajol. Abhijatrik is based on those left- over pages of the novel which Ray did not touch.
• What attracted you to the journey of Apu?
As a film-maker and a person who love literature, the journey of Apu always fascinated me. Not only me, every enlightened Bengali can relate to the character of Apu. Perhaps, there lies an Apu among all of us. He is part of our reality. But the journey is not complete in Ray’s films. I was waiting for the senior directors to mark the end of the journey. But that never happened. So, when I thought that I am prepared, I decided to take the journey forward. Apu is seen to be reliving his childhood through Abhijatrik. The basic essence of the film is the father and son bond.
• Did you stick to the text?
It is based on the text. It is an absolute period piece. I tried to recreate the time frame in the film.
• How are you recreating the bygone times?
It is an enormous task. The concept of recreation is in its process. The research, planning and conceiving the ideas --- these aspects are over. The execution is yet to be done. It is a monochrome film. The DOP has also used tungsten light to create the feel of bygone times. These historical aspects of the time frame have also been captured by me through visual elements. My team has also tried to showcase Kolkata’s condition during 1940s during World War II.
• Bengalis are extremely sensitive about the character of Apu. So, did it ever occur to you that there will be a risk associated with the film?
Not really. If I keep on thinking about these risks, doing anything is impossible. As a film student, I felt the need to explore the journey of Apu.
• Who would be playing the characters in Abhijatrik?
The casting has been finalized. Right now, look test is going on. The official announcement will be made within a month. Till then, I am leaving this to everyone’s imagination. Let the level of curiosity rise.
• What about music and background scores?
It will be absolutely Indian classical. World renowned musicians are playing for the film. A Grammy award winner happens to be our music director. We will reveal the names soon.
• Do you think people are curious about Apu’s closure which was undefined in the Trilogy?
Apu’s journey is a primary part. Everyone is curious to know what happens next. People have read the journey in the book. But watching iton celluloid has a whole new impact altogether. Film lovers through the world are interested to watch the film. People, irrespective of age, gender, have expressed their interest to watch the film.
• What are the places where you intend to shoot Abhijatrik?
Old Kolkata is a big part of the film. We are trying to explore the old avenues of the city,to recreatethe era of 1940s. We are recreating Nishchindipur in Taki and Bolpur because it is difficult to find all the elements of 1940s in one place. We are also shooting in Gorubathan in Dooars. Benaras is also an important part of the film.
• When will the shooting begin? When is Abhijatrik expected to release?
The shooting will start from May. The film is expected to release sometime during winter 2019.
• Any future projects?
The next project is Aranyak by Bibhutibhushon Bandhopadhyay. Since I have made several documentaries for History Channel, National Geographic and Discovery, nature is something which interests me the most. Doing a film on human relations with the backdrop of nature fascinates me to the core. I love doing period pieces too. The shooting of this film will begin this winter.