A chat with Bedbrata Pain..director of ”˜Chittagong’

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Sydney’s Vega Tamotia in ‘Chittagong’  

By Manju Mittal

Bedabarata Pain’s National Award winning film ”˜Chittagong’ was screened at Riverside theatre at Parramasala Festival Parramatta on 24th October, 2015. The screening of the film was a part of the Parramsala and was attended by a select Sydney audience.

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Manoj Bajpai with Nawazuddin Siddiqui  

As a movie buff I have always had a very visceral connection to film, but it’s very rare that something can resonate and leave me in an overwrought state of fulfillment like this film did. I wanted to know more about this exceptional character in the film ”˜Jhunku’ played by 14-year-old boy debutant Vijay Verma.

Chittagong is a historical epic based on the 1930 uprising against the British Raj when the region was once part of British India. Not many are aware of the Chittagong uprising that occurred in a corner of Bengal. Bedabrata Pains’ Chittagong is a fitting tribute to one of the most important chapters in Indian history and the role of freedom fighters.

I caught up with the director, producer and screen writer of ”˜Chittagong’, Bedabarata Pain after the film screening when he gave his valuable time for this interview. This conversation is not just about his film but also about his life”˜s unexpected journey and the making of the film:

First of all, congratulations on being awarded best film as a director. From working at NASA to film making, Can you share your journey with us?

Well, in film making they say, it’s all luck by chance. I think its often being at the right place, right time. I was a senior research scientist at NASA and worked for almost 18 years. When I left a flourishing career at NASA and came to Bombay to make film I realised I am no longer in that situation. Film making has a charm of its own. I feel no human being can stay away from art, and that too good cinema. It was a difficult journey though I had never ever been on film set or handled a film camera before this. As I have walked my life journey I have come to realise that the only one who has the ability to change the often limited narrative of my life is me. I can recall every line of inspiring dialogue from one of the hit Hindi film “Agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho to puri kaynaat usey tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jati hai”, I believe we all have the ability to move on individually and collectively. Yes the journey was very exciting but very painful as well.

What inspired you to make this film and what were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?

Chittagong is a story of victory by ordinary people, of those who nobody thought could win. Most historical films in the past have been about the sacrifice but this is just about victory. I faced every difficulty you can think of during the making of this film. It was a huge learning experience.

Why did you tell the story from Jhunku’s point of view?

It was an easy choice for me. We always think of telling a story of a leader, we don’t tell the story of little people. Jhunku represented those 60 kids who were the backbone of the uprising. I felt that it would be so much powerful to hear the story from the point of view of 14 year old boy. His father was close to the British and was in their favour. Picking Jhumku as the protagonist, was key to stressing the continuity of struggle and its victorious end.

What kind of research did you have to do for the film?

The bigger challenge was to recreate the period. My team did a meticulous research to recreate the 1930s. We researched into every household utensil to make sure they are authentic. I made sure that we bought handloom cotton and stitched clothes out of them, because in those days, the refined cotton was not much in use so it was a lot of research that went into giving the movie its authenticity. Masterda was wearing 1930 fountain pen and the 1930 old Bangla background song played during the movie. I also visited the remote locations in Chittagong where all this happened.

You have achieved a lot in a short period of time, how does it feel?

I don’t feel I have achieved much at all. There is so much to learn, so many stories to tell, so much to explore with not in just movie making but in science as well. I am a scientist and I will be scientist and will carry that pssion on the side. Through films I want to tell simple stories that reach out to a large number of people. I am working on a new film. It is a thriller and great message in it is about ”˜making peace with your past’.

Can you tell us about your co-writer Shonali Bose and what was the casting process for Chittagong?

We started this project together, for one year I did the writing on my own. I shot the film with the same digital camera that I with other NASA scientists had invented. I was fortunate to have the best cast and crew. When I first approached Vega Tamotia, I just knew she was the one. I don’t know how else to say this but Vega has a star quality, she is a gifted actress who’s easily embraceable. Main character of the film Vijay Verma as ”˜Jhunku’ when I saw his audition I knew casting him in the role of ”˜Jhunku’ would determine the success of the film. It was a great experience working with Manoj Bajpai as ”˜Masterda’ he is very friendly and dear to me. In the film we have brilliant performances by the entire cast featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Raj Kumar Yadav, Barry John, Sauraseni Maitra and more.

What advice would you give to an aspiring film maker?

Film is not only about the art it’s about business also. It cost a great deal of money to make a film these days. You must learn and experience various things to become a director. Never give up, believe in yourself completely.

Chittagong’ is a must watch film for cine lovers and is a story that is filmed in Hindi to catch wider audience though its story is well known to people in Bengal and is taught in school texts to students. Young ”˜Jhumku’ and his friends fought against the British and Chittagong was free of British Raj for full three days in 1930s much before India got its freedom due to the sacrifice of these determined young souls. What an inspiration these young heroes must have been in those days to others who were fighting for a much bigger cause.






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