Director Partha Sarathi Manna is ready with his debut film Oskar. In an exclusive chat with RBN, he speaks about his film and why he chose the subject. Excerpts.
What was the reason behind naming your film Oskar? It also has a very interesting tagline
Well, the film talks about 1983 when Bhanu Athaiya won India its first Academy Award for costume design in Gandhi. That’s also the reason behind the tagline ‘Once Upon a Time in Bengal 1983,’ since the film is set in a village in the state. We have used Oscar as a metaphor.
You have come up with a rather interesting subject for your first film
Yes (laughs). Our film industry is the biggest compared to anywhere in the world. We produce a great number of films. However, majority of the films sound good on paper, but fails to meet audience expectations when they hit the theatres. This is a common phenomenon experienced by every individual involved with the industry; crisp on paper but the final product looks boring on the screen. The reason behind this problem is that the cinema produced by our industry is not always made with proper dedication or with a loyal intention. The entire filmmaking process ends up as a compromise rather than a dedicated endeavour. I decided to highlight these issues in my film.
What made you come up with the plot? This is probably the first Bengali film on the industry itself.
I worked as an assistant director for more than a decade. I have seen how people use cinema for their own benefits. Only a handful of people genuinely think of good cinema. The thought of making the film came from my working experience in the industry.
Give us a brief idea about the plot
The Achinpore Rajbari is headed by Rudra Chattopadhayay. One night, his younger brother Ratul dreams about a strange looking man wearing a golden suit, and desperately calling his name. Ratul visits a godman the next day where he notices a newspaper article. The two brothers come to know that the man who appeared in Ratul’s dream, was none other than the Oscar statuette, which was already won by Bhanu Athaiya that year. Now the entire Achinpore Rajbari sets out to make an Oscar nominated film. What follows is a laugh riot. Pandemonium is let loose in the village. Right from a fraud film director, to an aspiring actor, to a fake Amitabh Bachchan, everybody joins the chaos. Whether Achinpore is finally able to make an Oscar winning film, is what the story is all about.
Is Oskar a satire?
Yes it is. The film is more of a dark comedy.
How did you select the cast? Also, who is playing what role?
After writing the film with my co-writers Ravi Bhushan Kumar and Deep Basu, we started hunting for actors who will fit into the roles. We were not interested to cast stars. Shaheb Bhattacharjee is playing Ratul, the main protagonist, while Priyanshu Chatterjee is playing his elder brother. Aparajita Addhya is playing the main antagonist in Oskar. We also have brilliant actors like Kharaj Mukherjee, Bhaskar Banerjee, Sakuntala Barua, Avrajit Chakraborty, Ayoshi Talukdar, Debolina Biswas, and Debleena sen in other important roles.
We hear there was this incident of tribals cooking country chicken for you?
Yes, of course (laughs). We were shooting at Burudi dam in Jharkhand and the tribals there cooked country chicken for the entire unit. The test was awesome and really different from what we eat back home in the city. It was great fun spending time with them.
And your future projects?
Right now we are only concentrating on Oskar. It’s slated to release next month. That aside, I am writing another film which I wish to narrate to Prosenjit Chatterjee.