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Ram Kamal Mukherjee unfolds his next dream film project

He is making a movie on legendary theatre actor of yesteryear – Binodini Dasi, popularly known as Nati Binodini

Ram Kamal Mukherjee unfolds his next dream film project

Ram Kamal Mukherjee unfolds his next dream film project

Be it Kolkata's man-pulled rickshaw (or rickshawwala), Ananda Math or Nati Binodini - he seems to be always drawn by history, heritage, and nostalgia. And this time round, the nationally and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee, has set out on yet another journey-down memory lane, portraying the legendary theatre actor of yesteryear-Binodini Dasi, popularly known as Nati Binodini. Speaking to Bizz Buzz exclusively, filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee unfolds his next dream project.

Be it Kolkata's man-pulled rickshaw (or rickshawwala), Ananda Math or NatiBinodini- you seem to be always drawn by history, heritage, nostalgia. Isn't it?

Yes. As a student of History, I am always inclined towards incidents from the past.

Why Nati Binodini? Any special reason?

Her journey is so interesting and sadly we don't have any film that truly portrayed the struggle, success and failure of this legendary theatre artist Binodini Dasi.

What are the reasons behind casting Rukmini Maitra in this film?

I feel that Rukmini is an underutilised actor from Bengali film industry. The kind of dedication and effort she has been putting in this film is unbelievable. I also feel that I wanted to break the conventional casting and wanted to experiment with almost all the major characters in the film. Wait for more surprises.

At one point of time Nati Binodini was a big hit as audio (radio) play and in Jatra circles. But it was a different time altogether. Do you think the same success story can be replicated in celluloid also?

Yes! In fact Bina Dasgupta's Jatra "Noti Binodini" became Iconic. Much later when director Dinen Gupta made a film on her life with Debasree Roy in the lead, he was deeply inspired from the play. As mentioned earlier, my version is completely different. My writer Priyanka Poddar wrote the screenplay which has nothing to do with whatever we have seen in the past. I would like to thank my researcher Abhra Chakraborty for working on the subject, along with Priyanka who worked equally hard in creating this magnificent narrative.

Would this film be made for a particular age group or even younger generation be equally attracted? No. This film will cater to everyone. People who know about Binodini will definitely love to see her biopic, but even youngsters would get attracted towards our film simply because of the narrative and representation.

Are you doing anything in particular to ensure that even the younger audience come to the theatre to watch this movie?

Rukmini is one of the most popular faces amongst youngsters. I am sure when she is playing the title role, youth will be keen. Most importantly Bengal's superstar Dev is presenting this magnum opus, who is unquestionably the biggest heartthrob of Bengal. I am sure even his fan base would be keen on seeing this untold story of a legendary actress from Bengali theatre.

Have you done the scripting yourself?

No. I wanted to make this film and I had my basic concept in mind. Then we approached Abhra Chakraborty who researched on the subject. He worked for almost a year and finally my business partner Aritra Das from Assorted Motion Pictures suggested Priyanka Poddar's name for screenplay and dialogues. Then she started working on the story and script. Due to the pandemic, we couldn't do much and had to wait for things to settle. Meanwhile we worked on the screenplay.

Finally, when we narrated the screenplay to Dev, he got excited and wanted to come on board as presenter. In fact, he has very interesting suggestions which we incorporated in our screenplay which enhanced the narrative. Dev is a knowledgeable actor, and his experience helped us in making the narrative more enticing.

While portraying Binodini you will also have to bring in other historic characters like Rama Krishna Paramhansa, Girish Ghosh and Ranga Babu, one therefore has to be very particular about how one portrays them. How are you handling that?

Tough job. In fact many of my friends from Bollywood also asked me the same question. Ramakrishna is a pivotal character (maybe not screen time wise) in Binodini's life. So we are very keen on having someone who will delve deep into the character. Girish Ghosh and Ranga Babu are two important men in Binodini's life, which also required equally talented faces. We are currently in the process of meeting actors and locking the final cast.

In what light are you portraying Binodini in the film? Are you throwing any new light on the character?

Wait and watch...

Music has to be an important part of this particular film. Don't you think so? Tell us something about this aspect of the film.

It's yet again another most important aspect of this film. Initially I thought of working with big names, but now I am toying with the idea of meeting young talented composers from Bengal who will research and create a different sound board for this film. I am in search of magical music, pure, soulful and virgin.

Ritwik Mukherjee
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