“OTT gives films a wider reach”

Filmmaker Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Kadak Singh- starring Pankaj Tripathi in the lead- was released on Zee5 last year. Days after the release, Souvik Ghosh catches up with Roy Chowdhury on a winter morning to discuss the film, his collaboration with Pankaj Tripathi and more…
Excerpts of the interview
Q. There was a considerable gap of a few years between Pink and Lost followed by Kadak Singh. What transpired in that period? Were you planning your projects?
A. Yeah, that’s right. I take time to conceive a film. I was preparing my scripts in those years. In that period, I prepared two Bengali and three Hindi film scripts including Lost and Kadak Singh. I think creating scripts, thinking of stories and marinating those thoughts in our minds are also parts of filmmaking and it is not only about action and cut. Filmmaking is a thought process where one becomes pregnant with thoughts and lives with them. I need time to make a film. I am slow in conceiving and understanding things. I love to wait for the right moment. I am never in a hurry. Pauses are very important in my life.
Q. Do you keep casting in mind while making a script?
A. I first think of the story. When I discuss it with my co-writers, characters start to develop and then I remember the artistes’ looks and their mannerisms. In that way, actors seep into my characters. It’s a very organic process. I try to be as honest as possible as far as filmmaking is concerned. The film always determines casting.
Q. Did you find any similarity between Kadak Singh, the character and Pankaj Tripathi?
A. There is a similarity. The principles. Both are rooted and they have simplicity and integrity. Moreover, his (Pankaj Tripathi) acting skill is great. He goes into deep diving as a responsible actor. When artistes are good, a filmmaker feels happy and elated and the whole work turns out to be of a different level. I have had a great experience working with him.
Q. Does knowledge of an actor play a pivotal role in casting for you?
A. What matters is the knowledge of acting and life. No one would doubt Pankaj Tripathi’s knowledge in those spheres. I have met him a couple of times before filming. I love to make friends and chat. I think understanding of human beings and minds is key. We all have skills that can be used appropriately when we know people well. That’s called Nirvana and a connection.
Q. Ritesh Shah has been your co-writer in Pink, Lost and Kadak Singh. How did that bonding help?
A. He is fabulous. I can’t take credit for an entire film. A film belongs to everyone who has contributed to it. Ritesh has a great understanding of me because he is so sensitive and sensible. He is a person with a strong depth. I find it very comforting to work with Ritesh for the kind of a writer, thinker and a collaborator he is.
Q. Does an OTT release of a film help you as a filmmaker because of the liberty in the medium?
A. Everything in life has advantages and disadvantages. I definitely wish my audience to watch my films on big screens in multiplexes. But after Covid, everything has changed. I had carried the prints of my films Anuranan, Antaheen across the halls and countries. It’s a very tough thing to take films to different cities unless they are big Hindi or English projects. But due to OTT, millions of people can watch a film from their places. I won’t get this benefit somewhere else. But there is a disadvantage too. People will skip it or switch off if they don’t find it worthy. So filmmakers’ jobs become challenging. Having said that, filmmakers make films to show to people and that is served greatly by OTT. People are viewing my films in diverse locations, ranging from West Bengal to somewhere in Israel. The shelf life of a film is also long on the web.
Q. Do you intend to concentrate more on Hindi films now?
A. I want to concentrate more on films in general, irrespective of language. I have a lot of ready stories, which I want to tell to my audience through films. Probably, I will do a Bengali film next.
Q. You follow Buddhism. Does that influence your work?
A. I believe in Buddhism. Maybe I don’t practice it. I am a very greedy, earthly person (laughs). But somewhere in my subconscious mind, I remember Buddhism and I feel like following the act of letting go. But ultimately I fail, obviously, as we all are earthly people. If I could practice the principles and let go of everything, I would have been very happy. But I have every intention to follow the principles sometime in my life. It gives a different kind of strength, power and positivity. Afterall, we all are custodians of material beings and not the owner. (TWF)