conversation Sanjay Nag's ‘Memories in March', which released this Friday, explores the mother-son bond in a new setting

B arely three days before his first feature film went on floors, director Sanjay Nag realised something was not going right. He had Deepti Naval and Raima Sen on board and had convinced filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh to make his acting debut for his Bengali film. But the thought of making Deepti Naval mouth Bengali lines left him uncomfortable. “I didn't doubt her commitment to learning Bengali. I was concerned that her acting would be compromised in the bargain of her focusing on getting her Bengali accent right. I felt the film should be made in English and I must credit Deepti, Rituparna and Raima for obliging with the change of language of my first film,” says Sanjay Nag, whose Memories in March released this Friday.

Having the film in English also helped him take the film to a larger audience. The film was completed in August 2010 and had its international Premiere at the Pusan International Film Festival followed by many other film festivals. “Going with the film's title, we wanted to release the film in March 2011,” says the director.

The film shows a bereaved mother (Deepti Naval) going to Kolkata for the last rites of her dead son and planning to pack his belongings and return to Delhi in three days. “The film opens with the youngster, who works in an advertising agency, meeting with an accident while returning from a late night party. The mother meets with her son's colleague (Raima Sen) and boss (Rituparno Ghosh. She learns that they have been the insiders to his life, knowing more than her about her son, while she is the outsider,” explains Sanjay.

Interestingly, the filmmaker refrained from showing any clippings or photograph of the dead son. “He is physically absent but the film revolves around this character. Even the voice over used is sporadic,” he says.

The film also shows Deepti Naval's refusal, at first, to come to terms with her son's homosexuality. But Sanjay Nag maintains, “Homosexuality is only a small part of the film.”

Sanjay Nag recalls how he landed the opportunity to direct the film by chance. “Rituparno Ghosh was to direct the film originally. The film was shelved for a while and when the project was revived, he suggested I direct it. I had heard a narration from Ritu earlier as a friend and knew it was a great story. When the opportunity came my way, I told Ritu that he had to act since he knew the character of the boss inside out. At that time, only Raima was on board. Ritu spoke to Deepti Naval and she agreed.”

With the World Cup frenzy almost over, Sanjay Nag hopes the audience will return to cinema halls. “In India, one can never escape cricket. The IPL season is round the corner, followed by elections in Bengal,” he laughs.

sangeetha devi dundoo

I didn't doubt her (Deepti Naval) commitment to learning Bengali. I was concerned that her acting would be compromised in the bargain of her focusing on Bengali.