Sunday, October 7, 2012

A history of struggle


Giving up a career at NASA, recession, running from pillar to post, competition, controversies, loss of a son.  There was a lot that Bedabrata Pain had to cope with to finally see his film Chittagong release and see the light of the day.

Chittagong, a period drama based on the 1930 Chittagong armoury raid, traces one of the most glorious chapters of Indian history and drives home the point that ordinary people can script a victory, going beyond iconic heroes. The film is set to release on October 12, but the obstacles in its path have been no less than a struggle for filmmaker Bedabrata Pain.

Acquiring resources
In 2007, Pain started writing his film as he quit his job at NASA. By 2008, he started approaching financers with his script in Mumbai. Soon Mumbai Mantra, a film unit of the Mahindra’s decided to finance his film. But then recession hit, and Pain regretted giving up his job, but he shortly received his royalty payments for his patents, which was about enough to complete the film.
Prasoon Joshi of Reliance Entertainment offered his services as a lyricist instead as he failed to fund the film. Thanks to his introductions, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Resul Pookutty were on board the film. Manoj Bajpai and Barry John agreed to take up their assigned roles. But for his 13-year-old lead, the Chittagong team auditioned thousands of young boys, till Dilzad Hiwale was discovered. Pain took one look at him and decided he’d found his protagonist Jhunku. Pain also had the good fortune of meeting the real Jhunku Roy, while the latter was on his death bed in 2007.
Shooting began late January 2010. However the shoot wrapped up in 42 days, not because they had everything they needed, but because they were out of money and time. They’d shot possibly 70 per cent of the scenes.

Battling competition and controversy
Remember Ashutosh Gowariker’s Kheley Hum Jee Jaan Se (KHJJS) that released in 2010? Chittagong was shot around the same time frame, but being a smaller budget film, it was ignored compared to the Oscar-nominated Gowariker’s attempt. And KHJJS had a higher star value with Abhishek Bacchan and Deepika Padukone as the lead actors, compared to a lesser known (back then) Manoj Bajpayee and Barry John.

Rumors were rampant about Pain’s script being based on Manini Chatterjee’s book ‘Do And Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34’. The rights were sold to Gowariker for KHJJS. Yet a conspiracy suggested that it was used as a reference by Pain as well. Soon enough, Producer Anurag Kashyap blamed Amitabh Bacchan for using his influence to position KHJJS as it starred his son Abhishek. This led to further delays in Chittagong’s release. The distributors too acted funny, adding to the mess. With KHJJS released, Chittagong lay buried in memories, until it surfaced again in 2012.

A predicted victory?
Critics believe that this is the best time for Chittagong to release. With Manoj Bajpai tasting success and riding high with Rajneeti and Gangs of Wasseypur in his kitty, there is no comparison between him and Abhishek Bacchan. And with a star cast like Barry John, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vega Tamotia, Jaideep Ahlawat, could we ask for anything better?
The period film also boasts of a delightful soundtrack by the talented trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and sound by Oscar-acclaimed Resul Pookutty, with most of the songs being raga-based.           

Director’s take
In an earlier interview, Pain quoted, “Most of our films on freedom struggle end in a defeat. I did not want to tell a story like that. I did not want a story that emphasizes daring and sacrifice, but ultimately ends in despair. I wanted to tell a story where ordinary people, like you and me, can make a difference and can win a victory. In today`s world, when people are dissatisfied with so many things, and are trying to change the situations they find themselves in , I feel stories of success are far more relevant. I hope that my Chittagong can give everybody confidence in their daily battles.”

Celebrity reviews
After a special premiere screening, here is what some celebs had to say about the film.
Amitabh Bacchan: “A moving touching experience. Sensitively shot and enacted, a film that captures an important part of our history, a freedom fight against British rule, by a bunch of school kids! It is a real life story on real characters, where a Master Da led a bunch of his school children in armed revolt against the British!” 
Shahrukh Khan: “What a delightfully intense film Chittagong. All the best Bedo, Anurag Kashyap, Manoj, Vega, Nawazuddin, Shonali. Thanks for the experience.”


1 scribbling(s):

ashiot said...

Wonderfully well written, very professional. It is nice of Prasoon, SEL and Resul to encourage filmmakers with small budget. Looking forward to the release of the movie.

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