Celebrated filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta speaks about his new film, Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa, Indian cinema and his bond with Kerala on his short visit to the capital city

Veteran filmmaker and poet Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Anwar have had a long relationship. Although the script was begun two years ago, the director was engrossed in making Trayodoshi, based on 13 poems of Rabindranath Tagore, for Doordarshan. “I had a certain face in mind but was finding it difficult to find my Anwar. I was all set to make the film in Bengali when I happened to see Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a small role in a Hindi film. I had found my Anwar,” says the ace filmmaker about the lead actor in his fourth Hindi feature film, Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa.

Once his Anwar was located, he decided that the film could be done only in Hindi. He says Anwar, a small-time detective from a village in West Bengal who comes to Kolkata for his first job, could not be portrayed by any actor.

“It required someone who could play a common man and Nawaz was perfect for the role. A big production house agreed to produce the film if I roped in big stars. But I never compromise on such things. Nawaz is one of the best actors I have worked with because he extends the creative boundaries of a director,” says the veteran filmmaker. Miss Lovely star Niharika Singh is also in the cast.

Shot in Bihar and West Bengal, the film is about how Anwar goes about ferreting into other people’s lives. The movie reveals what happens when he decides to investigatehis own life. Resul Pookutty is the sound designer of the film and Buddhadeb cannot find enough words to lavish praise on the Oscar winner’s attitude to work and cinema.

“Resul approached me, saying he wanted me to work in this film. When I told him that I would not have enough money to pay him, he told me: ‘Dada, I am not doing this for money.’ It is people like him who give me hope for better cinema and a better world,” says Buddhadeb.

However, the poet and auteur does not feel that the new spring in Indian cinema is significant enough to usher in momentous changes in films and filmmakers. “What excites me is the change in the Indian viewer. They are willing to see experimental works that don’t conform to demands of commercial cinema. That augurs well for Indian cinema. In West Bengal, for instance, many big budget films have not done so well while movies that have moved away from the beaten track have attracted the viewers.”

Short takes

* Buddhadeb is the director of films such as Bagh Bahadur, Tahader Katha and Kaalpurush.

* Buddhadeb is convinced that he must have been a Malayali in his previous birth. “I enjoy coming to Kerala so much. I like the fragrance of Kerala, its people, their culture, their way of living,” says the director, who was in the city for a friend’s son’s marriage.

* The late filmmaker Aravindan has a huge following in West Bengal, he says. “He was a friend of mine. Youngsters who have only heard of him are showing a keen interest in his films. But they are finding it so difficult to find DVDs of his films and works. It’s a pity that we are not making landmarks works available for students and fans of cinema. Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N. Karun, Jayaraj, Shyamaprasad and Vipin Vijay are some of the directors whose works I follow with interest.”