Home ART & CULTURE I am in love with Odisha, it’s culture: Bengali film-maker Amartya

I am in love with Odisha, it’s culture: Bengali film-maker Amartya

Picture courtesy: Photo Chitra

Bhubaneswar: “My films break away from every form of cinema that you’ve ever seen. They are not just unconventional but anti-conventional,” said filmmaker Amartya Bhattacharya, when team OST caught up with him and co-producer Swastik Choudhury of Capital I and Khyanikaa fame here.

Picture courtesy: Photo Chitra
Here’s an excerpt from our interaction with them:
Q: You are from West Bengal yet you chose to make films in Odia. 
A: Firstly, cinema has no language. Odia or Bengali is just the medium in which characters converse. I have been staying in Bhubaneswar since 2010 as I work for an IT company here. I took to film-making because I could not do plays that I used to do in Bengal. I have fallen in love with Odisha and its cultural history.
I wanted to contribute something to this state as a token of my love and respect and decided to make ‘Capital I’. But I wasn’t fully comfortable with Odia at that time. So a major proportion of the film is in English. Now I can write Odia dialogues without many grammatical errors. So you could expect more Odia dialogues in ‘Khyanikaa-The Lost Idea’ and my future films.
Q. Amartya, what inspired you to make films?
A: Nowadays, whatever cinema you see are all the same. Only the stories change, but there is no cinematic evolution. Cinema is only getting used for making money or spreading propaganda. People have started exploiting the medium before exploring it thoroughly. So, the exploiters of cinema have indirectly inspired me to become an explorer. But that’s not the only truth. If I could devote time to theaters and if people read my poems, I don’t think I would need to make cinema. So, in that sense, I am also exploiting cinema to exhibit my thought to a larger section.
Q: And what inspired you to do offbeat movies such as Captial I and Khyanikaa, Swastik?
A: I believe, defining benchmarks for quality Odia films is necessary and important. The state lacks cultural and artistic expressions. In spite of great icons and exponents of art living here, there has been a huge absence of creative understanding in the general public. Hence my interest to be a part of Odia films like ‘Capital I’ ‘Khyanikaa’.
Picture courtesy: Photo Chitra
Q: You have received accolades in various film festivals and also a national award.  But how do you react to comments that your work has been “influenced” by certain movies?

Amartya: I don’t like to react to criticisms. My films break away from every form of cinema that you’ve ever seen. They are not just unconventional but anti-conventional. I would like people to watch my films before drawing conclusions.

Picture courtesy: Photo Chitra

Q: Tell me about your experience as a producer?
Swastik: ‘Capital I’ was my first film as a producer. Without any background in film making or formal education in it, the initial days were challenging. No financiers or industry banners showed interest to back these films and therefore we needed to be frugal. But all the hard work paid off when these films got recognition in film festivals in India and abroad. ‘Capital I’ has been a first in many categories for Odisha – one needs to be a little curious to know the interesting facts about this film.

Picture Courtesy: Photo Chitra
 Q: Do you think creativity needs financial support to be portrayed on screen?
Amartya: Creativity doesn’t need financial support, but the exhibition of a creative work needs financial support. I can write a poem, make a painting or a film on my own. But if I have to exhibit or screen my work, I’ll have to hire infrastructure like a cinema hall. I’ll have to pull people through promotions and marketing. That needs financial support. And unlike other forms of art, cinema requires a lot of infrastructures. So, there is a need for financial support. But even if there is no financial support, one can still make films. May be one can’t market them, but making is possible.
Swastik: Just to add here  – We don’t ask Nature to create the world as we want to. Rather the Nature being a superset of us, we ought to restrain ourselves within its boundaries. Similarly, artists are super sets of ourselves. We cannot and should not dictate them ever to create things that are in fashion. Their creations are windows to unexplored worlds and we must enable ourselves to get into it. That’s another way of evolution and it’s worthwhile. And so just as we would need to support nature with our investments, to exhibit such creations do need financial assistance. It would be really unwise if one says why don’t you make such creations that can fetch the moolah – then we would be going back to square one – the first sentence of this paragraph above.

Picture courtesy: Photo Chitra

Q: You have made your films with DSLR camera.
Amartya: Yes, all technical equipment needs huge funding, but there are alternate ways as well. If Jafar Panahi could make films like the ones he did even when he was banned, anything is possible. Films made with mobile phones have won top awards in the world. What I’m saying is, in today’s world of digital technology, excuses don’t stand strong anymore.

 Q: A few words to the upcoming film-makers and actors who wish to go unconventional?
Amartya: Do not manufacture films, try to create them. As an artist, you must express your mind. Enforcing a structure is tampering your thoughts. Your honesty and spontaneity should reflect in every frame of yours. If you are unconventional, and if you do not have any pretension, conventions won’t be able to bind you.
Swastik: It is a matter of individual choices. If you are clear on the demands of this unfamiliar and individualistic path then you also need to accept that in spite of being greeted by failure or success, you are true to yourself. Unless more people join, it would be very difficult to expect any significant change in our cinematic landscape. More power to all such interested people. ART RULES!!
Picture courtesy: Photo Chitra

Q: What was the last movie you watched?
Swastik: That Obscure Object of Desire by Luis Bunuel.
Amartya: The last movie I watched was a bad one; I am not naming it. The last good film I watched was Labour of Love by Aditya Vikram Sengupta.

Picture courtesy: Photo Chitra

Team OST had a candid chat with Amartya Bhattacharya and Swastik Choudhury at Walking BookFairs. The duo is currently employed in an IT company in Bhubaneswar. Amartya Bhattacharya has won Silver Lotus for Best Non-feature Cinematography for his film Benaras-The Unexplored Attachments at 63rd National Film Awards. His Odia feature film Capital I was one of the most talked about films and was screened at last year’s International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK). His second Odia feature film Khyanikaa-The Lost Idea which premiered at various international film festivals such as Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival in Canada will soon be screened in Bhubaneswar.