FAQ TO THE DIRECTOR ABOUT THE MAKING OF BRIDGE
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON WHY YOU WANTED TO MAKE THIS FILM?
As a doctor/psychiatrist, I am motivated by Healing and holistic recovery, not just symptom reduction. As a creative individual I am passionate about the medium of cinema that has enormous power of personal and social transformation. After traversing and experiencing a long journey through a gamut of artistic forms such as classical dance, poetry and plays, directing theatre and musicals, I needed to find a wider canvas where I can seamlessly blend the colours of science and arts to inspire, involve and motivate people across cultures. My vision is to make international films that is deeply rooted in Indian culture with a theme that is universal in appeal.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AS A DIRECTOR?
Being born and brought up in Calcutta, I was exposed to the arts, literature and cinema from an early age. I received training in Indian Classical dance (Kathak) and musicals and performed widely. I also published two books of poetry, musical theatres and plays. Two of my recent plays achieved huge acclaim and success in India. After coming to UK in 1997 to further my medical career, (as Child Psychiatrist), I started exploring world cinema, as a new creative canvas and a way to express myself fully. I received training in the Raindance Independent Film School in London and started making short films, awareness films and documentaries. I received a grant from King’s Find and Millennium Commission’s Leadership award from the Mayor of London for an awareness film on Autism. My first short film ‘One short sleep past’ was shown at The Kolkata International Film Festival. Bridge is my debut feature film, made with shoe string budget with a bunch of highly dedicated and passionate international cast and crew members of the highest calibre.
WHO ARE YOUR INFLUENCES AS A DIRECTOR?
I was primarily influenced by legendary Indian/Asian film makers such as Satyajit Ray and Akiro Kurosawa but more recently I have been deeply moved and inspired by a range of European and American directors such as Krzysztof Kieslowski, David Lean, Louis Bunuel, Michael Haneke, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodover, Abbas Kirostami and so on.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF THE PRODUCTION?
As in every low budget filmmaking, the most difficult aspect was to manage the production and postproduction of the film within the limited budget. It was also a challenge to maintain the effective communication and coherent understanding between the international crew members with different outlook in practical approaches and cinematic practices.
WHAT WAS THE MOST ‘FUN ASPECT’ OF MAKING THIS MOVIE?
Almost every aspect of making this film was ‘fun’ just because as a team, we were inspired to make it happen! But dealing with a huge number of extras and involving residents and local people of Bally was of great joy. They joined us with huge enthusiasm and curiosity. Our youngest actress was only 18 months old and it was a delight to work with her and other children who gave ‘perfect’ takes every time.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO MAKE THE MOVIE?
The idea of the film was conceived in June 2013 and the first draft was written within 7 days! Preproduction of the film started in Feb 2014 and the postproduction is completed by August 2014.
WHAT IS THE MAIN THING THAT WE WANT TO GET ACROSS TO THE VIEWERS?
The story really is about connecting and bonding between individuals and that unconditional /selfless offering of help, support and friendship can bring powerful healing at all levels. Through love and compassion we create a sense of belonging to each other which in turn gives a greater meaning, hope and optimism in our lives. Also that ‘healing’ happens at various levels and dimensions including physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cosmic.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL OBJECTIVES OF MAKING THIS FILM?
In my everyday clinical practice with children and adolescents, I see that the first and the most important step in treatment is the engagement (‘Bridging’) with the person.No therapeutic work is possible without this trusting relationship. I firmly believe that through acts of loving kindness and compassion, selfless service, as humans; we deeply connect with each other and within ourselves. We become bigger than ourselves and find our own ‘True Nature’ and happiness. This external and internal ‘bridging’ brings out the most profound meaning and wholeness to our lives. I wanted to convey my beliefs through this film and inspire others to connect or reconnect. I truly believe Dr Viktor Frankl’s words in ‘Man’s search for meaning’-‘ Human life, whatever circumstances may be, never ceases to lose meaning’
HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CASTING THE ROLES AND GETTING YOUR CREW?
I have worked with Soumitra Chatterjee, my main protagonist in several of my plays and musicals. He has been my constant inspiration and mentor in this journey. Sandhya was introduced to me by Tannishtha Chatterjee, another wonderful actress of International repute. Zoran, our DOP is one of the most experienced DOPs in UK and a teacher at Raindance Film School where I was trained in Filmmaking.I remember connecting with him straightaway from our first meeting at BAFTA and he was thoroughly inspired by my vision. We are fortunate to have Arghyakamal, an award wining and highly experienced editor on board who also edited one of my Documentary films. Abhijit ( Tenny) Roy is a well known, sound engineer from Mumbai who is a good friend and collaborated with us in previous musical projects. Our music director Dishari is a young, vibrant, sensitive and innovative classical musician from Kolkata who was also the Music Director of one of my plays. Dado Valentic was introduced to me by Zoran; Dado is one of the finest Colourist in the UK and has his own colour grading company, Mytherapy in London.
THINGS THAT YOU ARE PROUD OF MAKING THIS MOVIE?
- After seven years of frustrating and ‘educational’ journey to secure money for the film from various production companies in India, I was able to raise the money from my personal funds, ie selling pension policies, investments and so on. I was able to leave a highly paying and lucrative job of a Lead Consultant (Psychiatry) and immerse myself in the passion that I cherished for so long.
- We secured the perfect location-for free! This is a family home, however, the members of the household eventually became a part of the cast and the crew. We were able to shoot in one location and its surroundings, in the suburbia of Bally because our incredible Art and Production design department who created big and realistic sets within the same location without giving the impression of sameness. The entire population of the town of Bally in Howrah, just outside Kolkata, was very excited for the film and took active parts in it in many ways to make it happen.
- I inspired actors, crew members and the technical guys including our cinematographer Zoran and DI colourist Dado Valentic ( Mytherapy lab) who offered their services and worked very hard in the film for a fraction of their fees.
- The cast and crew continued talking about their experience even after the shooting was finished. They felt ‘charged’ and talked about the ‘spiritual bonding’, ‘inspiring meeting and exercises’ from the first day of the shoot. Given the theme and nature of the film, we needed containment and a sense of belonging within the team. We never had any arguments or upsetting situations during shooting. The crew and other observers were surprised to see the smooth operational functioning, the major credit of which goes to the producer Paramita.
- Soumitra Chatterjee, who is an octogenarian and shoots, at the most for 3-4 hours a day, worked extremely hard despite his frail health. He worked beyond his physical capacity and shot upto 8-10 hours every day for the 20 days of duration of the shoot.
- The sense of humour of the entire crew, the positive attitude and the feel good factor within the team kept us going even in stressful and tight schedule and hot humid weather.
- There were differences in opinion and vision in creating landscapes for the film but through creative and meaningful dialogues, both through ‘production’ and ‘post production’, we were able to find common grounds, keeping the film at the center of our vision at all times.
- Nature helped us in many ways and we all felt blessed by the Universe! To give an example, we didn’t have enough money to hire a Rain machine for 3 days that we needed. We used artificial rain on one day but to our utmost surprise, we were rewarded with natural rain and thunderstorms for the other two and just when we needed them.
- Internationally renowned still photographer and artist Suvomoy Mitra was inspired with the script and our vision of the film. He offered his services for free and took incredible production stills which are invaluable. Three film school students from Jadavpur, Kolkata and Rabindrabharati Universites came along to shoot ‘behind the scenes’. All of them became an integral part of our team. The design and marketing team led by Mousumi Nag and Rajesh Dhar were highly inspired to create all marketing materials, again, for free, as they believed in the ethos and the vision of the film.
- Overall, it is an exhaustive but exhilarating journey for many of us; Zoran described his experience as ‘magical’ in his website (upsidedownfilms.com). I take pride in being able to assemble an inspired group of individuals who dedicated their time and energy to a vision of film that I imagined and was able to complete.
We are sending ‘Bridge’ to International festivals worldwide and hoping to get selected in the major ones. We are keeping our hopes high for Bridge to get good reviews, create great buzz and and win International and National (Indian) awards as well. We will release the film in India next year after the film completes it’s journey within the festival circuit. I have few projects in various stages of development with one screenplay ( Rule of the Thumb) ready in hand to be shot as my next possible feature. This project will be based in UK.