Apart from being a film director, how would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
I am someone who loves to 'adda maro' about things, including cinema. I love telling stories and initiating discussions within friend groups. These discussions sometimes end up taking the shape of film projects and sometimes the form of a poem. But the main thing is that, there are times when I have things and ideas in my mind which needs to be shared. In that scenario, I love sharing those things and they end up as a film, play, song or a poem. To sum it up you can call me as "A man who loves to talk".
Where did you have your education?
I completed my matriculation from Amranga Barihat Higher Secondary School located in Rampur Block of Kamrup Rural district. I pursued my Higher Secondary and Graduation from Cotton College. After that I went to National School of Drama to pursue a Post Graduation degree in Acting. I passed out from NSD in the year 2008.
Share with us a little about your journey at NSD.
While I was studying in NSD, I used to contemplate whether I am actually learning anything. But after passing out of NSD, when I finally started working, I realized that all the learning that I gained there was ingrained deep in me which eventually reflected in my work. Moreover, I got the opportunity to watch some of the best works from across the world. I also got the opportunity to meet some of the renowned world class directors as well as renowned directors and actors from India. I believe the addas or discussions outside the classroom were very important. Along with it, since NSD is in Delhi, I got the opportunity to watch dramas and shows from Germany, Russia and other nations, which wouldn't have been an option here in Guwahati. All of these opened my eyes to the world of art, about the possibility of what can or could be. Along with it, there were some professors who had a lasting impression on us and the library there surely stands among the top 20 libraries of the nation.
How did you get yourself into direction?
Ever since I was in class 5, I had the habit of writing plays and directing them for school performances. This was done according to requirements by circumstances which eventually became a habit of mine. It is now an addiction and passion. So the urge to direct was there for a long time. I directed 'Shakira ahibo Bokultolor Bihuloi', 'Goru', 'Hero' and now 'Bulu Film'. I guess the urge to talk and share that these are my opinions, these are my thoughts, this is what I want to say creates the need in me to direct. I am a professionally trained actor which is a different aspect, but when I have to share my thoughts I have to write and direct.
How did the idea of Bulu Film come into existence?
I feel like if it wasn't for the Covid-19 lockdown, the idea for 'Bulu Film' might have never come up. I believe it was the lockdown scenario which led to the generation of the idea for 'Bulu Film'. During the Covid-19 lockdown, I was sitting idly for days with a team of drama practitioners who live with me. All of us were bored and idle. As the days passed on, one of the people from the team raised the question that what can be possibly done to come out this monotonous boredom. I jokingly suggested at that time that since there are so many SOPs which doesn't allow the gathering of many people, the least we can do is produce a Blue Film as it doesn't require much people to produce. I stated this as a joke. This joke eventually led to the generation of a concept on which we started working.
How do you feel about the way Bulu Film turned out to be a hit?
The new generation of Assamese directors and filmmakers has been experimenting with new ideas and path breaking concepts. Previously there existed only a definite form of Cinema. Let's say, Munin Boruah established one particular style of filmmaking in Assam and a lot of films in Assam were following the footsteps of that same style. There were other films which were produced for Film Festivals and Award Ceremonies. But the new generation of Assamese film directors is breaking those lines slowly and gradually. The line between festival oriented films and commercial films is slowly disappearing and the new filmmakers are experimenting with varied and fresh ideas. There prevails uniqueness in terms of subject and style presently. This is a positive sign. I believe, 'Bulu Film' is yet another addition to this new wave of filmmaking in Assam in terms of subject and treatment.
What impact do you feel Bulu Film had on the Assamese film industry?
The journey of film in Assam which was started by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala in the year 1935 is still stuck with the same struggles which existed back then. Amidst this, I feel that the ability of 'Bulu Film' to attract an audience and become a commercial hit, even when it wasn't a commercially produced film, is a good sign for the Assamese filmmaking scene. This film proves that we don't always need songs, out of the state locations or hit stars for a film to be successful. This film broke such typical concepts and became a super hit film. This I believe is a big achievement not for the film alone but for the Assamese film industry.
Moreover, Bulu Film was released on the same day when one of the biggest Bollywood film was released, Brahmashtra. What happens with us is that we always stand on our back foot before releasing our film. Assamese producers and directors have to think about what Bollywood or Tollywood film is being released before deciding their release date. It is difficult to battle with them as they have the money, manpower and distribution upper hand. However, in case of Bulu Film, we gathered the courage to battle with the richest Bollywood film. And the success that followed made us realize that irrespective of what Bollywood or Tollywood film is being released, we can attract audience to watch our film if it is remarkable.
How would you explain Bulu Film to someone who hasn't watched the film?
The film is not about how to produce a Blue Film. It is about the mentality that exists towards women in a male dominated society. Though the story revolves around three friends who goes on to produce a Bulu Film amidst the lockdown, it showcases what they end up exploring about the society during their journey. There are a large number of moments which would make one laugh during the film. However, as the film nears its end, it leaves the audience in a situation where they are stuck with contemplation and questions about why they laughed in all those moments. At the end of the film, this laughter transforms into tears.
Who are the primary crew members of Bulu Film?
I am the writer and director of the film. The screenplay and dialogues was done by me, Maharshi Tuhin Kashyap and Chanku Niranjan Nath. The other crew members are: DOP Chandra Kumar Das, Editor Hardik Kashyap, Background Score was done by Pallab Talukdar, Sound Design was done by Rukmajit Baruah, and the Sync Sound was done by Rukmajit Baruah and Nayan Jyoti Bhuyan. The film features Apurba Barma, me, Chanku Niranjan Nath and Pranami Bora as the central cast.
What kind of challenges exists in the present filmmaking scene of the state?
Although there are a lot of challenges, for me the main challenge is the lack of cinema halls. We presently have around 40 cinema halls in the state which is a very small number. I believe if we can increase the number of cinema halls in the state to at least 200, I believe the Assamese film industry can do business like any other industry. It's not like we lack film audience in the state. What's important is whether we are able to show films in front of this audience who are into films. If Assam gets around 200 halls, I believe we have the capability to create uproar like the other film industries. We have technically sound filmmakers, actors and creative writers from the new generation. When cinema is capable of doing business and the money comes in, the new generation of filmmakers can put up the big fight. It's not like Assam lacks geniuses. We have excellent filmmakers and stories which haven't been told yet. When cinema has the capacity to get the financial return, only then will filmmakers be able to invest in more films. This can be facilitated by more theaters. If this is done, I believe Assamese film can create commotion within three years. But the question is who is going to do that? We can't establish halls, we can make films.
What are the current projects that you are working on?
I am working on two scripts presently. It's going to take me some time. I don't want to rush it. And in between that I would like to work for YouTube and other mediums. But as for feature films, I am planning on taking it slow.
Has Bulu Film received any awards?
Bulu Film won the award for the Best Film in the Prag Cine Awards 2022. Along with it, it was also awarded for the Best Screenplay, Best Music Director, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor in the Prag Cine Awards 2022.
Who are your inspirations in the film world?
I have watched films from across the world. But my favorite rhythm is that of our Bollywood director Rajkumar Hirani. I have forever been inspired and attracted to his storytelling skills and rhythm. I enjoy it a lot. Apart from that, I am an all time of fan of Iranian films. So to sum it up, I am a huge fan of Rajkumar Hirani when it comes to direction and a fan of Iranian films in respect to film treatment.
Which is your favourite project?
Every film brings with it a different kind of experience. Shakira was a unique experience. This is because I did this project without any budget. Moreover, I used a big crowd of about 3000 people for the film, which was very rare. Goru was another amazing journey. The process of release was quite different. It was the time of lockdown and we released the film in the Natya Mandirs of Assam. So 'Goru' will be a memorable experience because of its release process. Moreover, this film was a hit and the producer could earn back his investment. Then Hero was another different experience as it was made solely for OTT platform. Finally, the journey of Bulu Film from its idea generation to its release was one of the most interesting experiences. Thus every film brought with it different experiences and taste.
What are your future ambitions?
All I want to do is make films. I want that more audience watches my films. Apart from festivals and awards, what I want more is our audience to watch our films. The biggest award is when the audience packs the house full and walks out of it with a happy heart.
What suggestions or advice would you like to give to the upcoming filmmakers?
In one line I would like to suggest that, "One should not copy". Previously people used to copy from the Bollywood or the South film industry. However, I am very hopeful of the upcoming generation. I have noticed just one negative point, which is a slow trend of trying to copy content from Netflix or other OTT releases. So we should not end in the loop where one used to copy Bollywood and now Netflix. We have our own stories and thus we shouldn't lose our individuality. We don't need to copy the Bollywood, Hollywood or any industry to create excitement. We might be able to excite the audience but it would be temporary. In long term, we would eventually lose our identity.