Aniruddha Roychoudhury better known as “Tony” among his ever-expanding social and professional circle, is waiting with bated breath for the release of his first Hindi feature film Pink that features Amitabh Bachchan as a fiercely aggressive lawyer with a beautiful young girl along with two of her friends pitted against him in this unusually striking courtroom drama. Aniruddha, a veteran of successful ad films for many years, stepped into the equally competitive world of feature films with Anuranan (Resonance) that won the National Award along with another Bengali film Padakhhep, directed by NRI Suman Ghosh. It has been an eventful journey since then with the beautifully poignant Antaheen, followed by Aparajita Tumi and Buno Haansh. But let us hear what he has to say about his journey.
Your films carry an invisible tagline that goes, “Life beyond right or wrong” .Am I right in this deduction?
I have never consciously thought of it in this way. I felt this philosophy run through the story of all my films where things happen whether you want them to happen or not. This ‘chance’ factor can deconstruct lives or change an entire value system is present in all my films and Pink is no exception.
Your films are basically rooted in relationships. Do you agree?
I am not very conscious of doing only relationship films. I like to explore the human mind. My earlier films, I feel have left many areas unexplored. I wish to tap into these unexplored areas and the two recent films of mine, namely Buno Haansh and now Pink are examples of this exploration. Human life, I have realised is the most unpredictable thing.
Anuranan won a National Award. Antaheen won four National Awards. How do you react to these awards?
When you enter your film for any award, you always hope that you will win. So Anuranan was a pleasant surprise while Antaheen was amazing. I was hoping that Antaheen would win some awards, but did not expect this great honour. I was more thrilled about the citation. It says that Antaheen won the award “for the lyrical blend of technical devices in the right proportion to depict shifting human relationships in an urban scenario.” It was very inspiring for a relatively new filmmaker like me which I was at the time.
Buno Haansh is led by some of the most successful commercial actors in Bengali cinema like Dev and Shrabanti. What made you cast them?
Firstly, I wanted to work with these actors who have been very successful in mainstream Bengali cinema which is slightly off-mainstream. They exude a strong aura of freshness and youth. Secondly, Buno Haansh is content-driven and though the characters are important, they do not dominate or overshadow the content. Thirdly, I wanted to address a larger audience. My earlier films were dubbed ‘niche’ because they addressed an urban, educated and elitist audience. Fourthly, my film is rooted into the Bengali identity and is defined by down-to-earth, middle-class Bengali characters. I felt these youngsters had it in them to deliver what I wanted them to. And to their credit, I must say that they have shone brilliantly. The audience’s perception of Dev as an actor will change completely after seeing this film.
How different is Pink from your earlier films?
The film is in Hindi which is a first for me but otherwise, it uses the language of cinema which is essentially the same for any language. It is an engaging film which means that it spells out entertainment of a different kind and not ‘entertainment’ as we commonly understand it linked to cinema. This is also thematically and ideologically slightly different from my earlier films. It is a film that has characters the audience will be able to identify with. There is a connect also with the time, space, power and storyline with the audience because it is contemporary though not based on a real incident or story.
What does the title Pink signify for you?
Pink is an attractive colour that suggests beauty and youth. But through my film, it also suggests power, freedom, sympathy and strength. It is not the frilly colour that is often understood to be fragile and delicate. I think this has come across in the film.
This is the first film you have directed that has a subtle but strong social agenda and makes judgement on social realities of the time. Can you explain this?
There is a message in all my films. Maybe, it is subtle and not underlined the way it is in Pink. The idea came from the heart and did not happen by design. I believe that a film grows organically along with the entire team and all members of my team including my producers are convinced about the theme and the ideology. Every single one of us have contributed to the entire film and are morally responsible for it.
This is the first film in which you direct none other than the great Amitabh Bachchan. How was the experience?
I have been one of the most ardent and crazy fans of Mr. Bachchan since my boyhood having seen all his films not once but several times. Working with him is a dream-come-true for me and the biggest learning experience is the lesson of humility he exudes every minute you are with him. He does not once permit you to feel that he is a legend. It is almost an experience in being transformed into a different person altogether. I was emotionally moved whenever he was on the sets.
Are you happy with the final product or do you leave the judgement to your audience?
I am very happy with the film. The film is like a baby which I have brought into the world and I love and cherish it.
Written byShoma A. Chattterji
Dr. Shoma A. Chatterji is a freelance journalist, film scholar and author based in Kolkata. She has 20 published titles, has won the National Award twice and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rotary Club of Kolkata Metro. She has done her post-doctoral research on cinema and has juried at national and international film festivals over time