Cinema

Reels of poetry

.Film director Goutam Ghose. Photo: V. Sudershan   | Photo Credit: V_Sudershan

Speaking to Goutam Ghose, that man of many summers and many a landmark movie, can be both a delight and a despair. One moment, it is all enlightenment as he talks of Sufism, Lalan Fakir, and those days when we lived in harmony. At such a moment, he takes you back to the days of Sufis and bhakts who forever told us we are all ‘Here for the Hereafter.' Next moment, he is at a loss for words. Even as you wait for the next expression to fall off his lips, he thinks. First silently, then aloud. He is talking about his next film “Lala” that is still in the initial stages. The film is being talked about as Richard Gere's India debut but Ghose does not want to share too much about a film that is only now beginning to spread his dream. He is, of course, much more at ease talking about “Moner Manush”, the Indo-Bangla co-production that is scheduled to hit the cinema halls shortly. Quietly, unobtrusively, Ghose, the man we never suspected of taking Indian films to international stage, is making ripples on the international circuit. And almost effortlessly stepping beyond the confines of Hindi or Bengali cinema.

“I have just wrapped up “Moner Manush.” It is based on a novel by Sunil Gangopadhyay. I have tried to relate the story of Lalan Fakir, the 18{+t}{+h}-19{+t}{+h} Century mystic widely revered on both sides of Bengal.”

Starring Prosenjit in the role of Lalan Fakir, the film has the tried and trustworthy Soumitro Chatterjee and Priyanshu besides Paoli Dham and Chanchal. With the likes of Latif Shah and Khuda Baksh getting the support of Farida Parveen, it is truly an international venture. “I went to Kushtia, the village of Lalan Fakir. I discovered his songs have notations.” Incidentally, Lalan composed some 10,000 songs and less than a 1,000 of them have survived.

Relevant today

The film was conceived in early 1990s but could reach fruition only now. Shot largely in Bangladesh and Bengal, the film's production work completed only recently. “I had planned this film immediately after the demolition of Babri Masjid. I wanted to highlight the shared past, the social harmony of our land with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians living together. But the film is as relevant now with so many divides of religion, race, caste and nation.”

He might otherwise be a man of few words but when Ghose talks about “Moner Manush”, there are no full stops, few commas. “The film embodies the fantastic subaltern spirit of our nation that is so liberal, so secular. We have a composite culture. We have Kabir. And Lalan is similar to Kabir. He did unbelievable work in 19th Century. His followers worked a lot in rural areas.

If the subject is so close to his heart, why the long delay?

“I was all set to make to this film earlier to recreate the beautiful atmosphere that was created by the followers of Lalan Fakir. But I got busy with other projects. However, now the film is more important as there is intolerance all over the world. We need to learn from Lalan.”

Actually this “learning from Lalan” also makes smart business sense today with the Bengali Diaspora spawning across the world. Ghose, a genial man with the looks of a philosopher, agrees.

“Co-productions make market sense for sure. And an Indo-Bangla production more so. There are Bengalis or Bangla-speaking people living across the world. There is a world market for Bengali cinema. With the improved Indo-Bangladesh relations, we hope to release more than a 100 prints. The film will be shown across the country at multiplexes. I am confident of it doing well because after a long time we have an Indo-Bangla film. We have a mixed cast and crew.”

“Moner Manush” might be just round the corner but Ghose is not resting on his laurels. “I am working on ‘Lala' next. Again, it will be a bilingual film.”

It is whispered none other than Richard Gere is working in “Lala”?

“I don't want to be talking about it yet. Unlike here, in Hollywood they have a process, a procedure in place. Yes, we have approached Richard Gere and he has evinced interest in the project. But he has not signed the film yet. Our producers will come down to India later this month, then we will finalise everything.”

For the moment, the bhadralok can savour “Moner Manush”. Over to Richard Gere next? Umm.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 12:35:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Reels-of-poetry/article15780044.ece

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