Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Bollywood debut Pink has won Bollywood grandee Amitabh Bachchan the best actor at Screen Awards. The film, with the powerful message that when a woman says no to a man she means it, went down well with the cineaste and the film buff. He spoke to Dola Mitra. Excerpts from the interview.
You are the toast of Bengali cinema right now, why have you gone to Bollywood with Pink?
Initially I thought I would make it in Bengali, like all my previous films. However, my friend Shoojit Sircar advised me to make it in Hindi, mainly because it would have a wider reach. A Bengali or a regional film can be screened in a limited number of theatres. A Hindi film can be shown in hundreds of halls around the country. I had an extremely supportive team to work with including Shoojit (producer), Shantanu Moitra (music) and Avik Mukhopadhyay (cinematographer).
It seems Bengalis have taken over Hindi commercial cinema.
(laughs): Well, they all just happen to be Bengalis.
How much a part does being Bengali play in injecting ‘cerebral’ themes into an industry, which has thus far been unabashedly pop?
I don’t think being Bengali necessarily plays a part in it. When I decided to make a Hindi film, it was not that I chose a subject keeping in mind that I would have to usher in changes in the cinematic structures of any particular genre. In Anuranan and Antaheen, I have dealt with the subject of women’s empowerment. The story of Pink had been building up in my head for some time. There are deep-rooted chauvinistic attitudes in our society and women have been facing the brunt of that. Over the last decade it seemed to have reached a kind of boiling point. It got unbearable and humiliating for all of us. Not just for women but men too. I felt the need to express my own thoughts, emotions, reactions to these. It was a compulsion.
You had said that the death of your father was a turning point in your life. In most of your films a sensitive father figure plays a significant role. In Pink it is Amitabh Bachchan.
Yes, my father’s death deeply impacted me. While Amitabh Bachchan’s character is a protecting father figure, the landlord plays a significant role.
There is the perception that Bengali filmmakers are initiating changes at the very core of Hindi commercial cinema with their socially-conscious themes such as in Pink.
Cinema, like other art forms, is bound to undergo changes. It will reflect the times, including its attitudes, responses to events, not to mention external aspects like clothes and fashions. Even mainstream commercial Hindi cinema has not remained static but has experienced evolutionary changes. Bengali filmmakers I think are an integral part of that process.