My Date with Anik Dutta’s Aparajito

Still from the Movie

It was a new journey for me, from the corporate world with the Tata group to a whole new academic world at Adamas University as its Dean. And amid this flux, one fine day came a call that my senior, friend and ace filmmaker Anik Dutta wants to meet me for a project I knew is very close to his heart. I knew Anik’s love for Satyajit Ray since the time I know him, so was not surprised that he was making a movie on the auteur. 

This is my second project with him, after Borunbabur Bandhu, where I got an opportunity to work with a legend – Shri Soumitra Chatterjee. So I knew there is a huge homework and a series of workshops that lie ahead. 

My character Manujendro Majumdar is inspired by Manojendu Majumdar, who was Calcutta Film Society founder member and first treasurer.   

So I started researching on my character from the old documents and videos of other members of CFS. Mr Majumdar was not widely written on as other prominent members such as RP Gupta, so the research was not easy. But as an academic, I loved every bit of the research. Anik’s workshops, which are extremely rigorous, was taking place frequently, getting us more and more closer to the character we are playing. My scenes are with the protagonist Aparajito Ray, played by Jeetu Kamal.

Still from the Movie

Jeetu is a very happy, fun-loving person. However, on the sets it was a surreal experience to watch him perform or even wait for his shots. It was like working with Satyajit Ray himself – the persona, the actions, the response, the poise and, of course, the uncanny resemblance. It was only after pack up that the familiar Jeetu was back. 

My co-actors, who were playing parts of the CFS (Film Society of Calcutta) in the movie) have been extremely well prepared for their parts. Enacting the scenes were like reliving history, especially a part of it that we would die to be associate with…the renaissance of Bengal.  

Prof (Dr) Mahul Brahma with Director Anik Dutta

Now let me talk about Anik. He is a taskmaster on the sets. He painstaking looks into each and every details of the film…from production design to costume to dialogues to what have you. There is an enormous amount of energy and dynamism that he brings to the sets. Anik is a master of his craft and I thank him for making me a part of this homage to Ray. 

I have written articles and research papers on Ray, but for this film I had read and re-read two books “Our Films Their Films” and “Portrait of a Director” as both the books gave a detailed account of the struggle while making Pather Panchali and a glimpse into Ray’s mind during the struggle. Such detailed research gives an actor a perspective, thus a better insight into the roles. 

Being a part of Aparajito is like being a part of history and I have only one man to thank for it – Anik Dutta. 

About the Author:

(Prof (Dr) Mahul Brahma (PhD, DLitt) is a Professor and Dean of School of Media and Communications, Adamas University and a Fellow of School of Art, Film and Media, Bath Spa University, UK. He is an author and TEDx speaker. His latest book The Mythic Value of Luxury has won Sahityakosh Samman recently. His first short film was screened at Cannes Film Festival) 

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