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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A tête-à-tête with Arin Paul

Arin Paul is a name that is familiar to most who are clued in on Bangla films and television.
He has wielded the director's baton for many a project on television before venturing to make his first feature film, quite ambitious at that, titled '10:10'. However after that he is yet to make his second feature, although he has been too busy with his shorts and documentaries, and that is what makes us curious. Here's a short chat with the director I consider to be one of the most sensible and grounded people from the film and television industry I have personally come across.

After your first feature film, why haven't you made a feature in all these years?

Ans: Well, It isn’t that I didn’t want to make a film. But things didn’t work out. Actually, 'Sabdhan Pancha Aashche' was my first film which got shelved with only five days of shoot remaining. '10:10' ('Dashta Dash') was my second feature film, which then became my directorial debut. After '10:10', talks were on for a film named 'Mixed Masala' with the same producers, but things failed to work out as my producer and I seemed to want different things. A few offers from here and there kept coming but they didn't interest me much either.

That's bad..... but would you say that you are a bit finicky?

Ans: Yes, I am a bit choosy about my projects. You know, I have weirdly funny stories about my stint with some producers. Maybe, I’ll share them sometime. But all these years have actually helped me grow in every aspect. I have seen people, all kinds of people...... reality hasn't been out of my grip, I have kept a close tab on the so-called world of showbiz as well, and enjoyed every bit.

I would say that you have retained if not sharpened your sense of humor and your sensibilities.... 

Hahaha.... well, maybe soon I’ll be announcing my next project.

Has your stint with television helped you, groomed you better?

My stint with television surely made me realize and confirmed my belief as to why I never wanted to work for television. But it was fun working on a few projects.

What exactly did the making of your first film, and the experience thereafter, teach you?

Oh, it taught me a lot. It was a learning experience. I came to know about the nitty-gritties of distribution, seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I also learnt what to do and what not to do.

A pertinent question now.... what excites you about the short film format which you keep revisiting?

Aah.. I love the format for one basic reason, I can do whatever I want and the way I want. It’s so refreshing and challenging too. 

How much of the film-making process satisfies you, as a person? Would you rather make films for yourself, than having a specific audience in mind?

Well, the whole process satisfies me. I make films for the audience keeping in mind what I like. A basic funda of mine is, if I like my film, then only can I expect others to like it. If I do not like my film, I’m convinced that no one will like it.

Tell me about the kind of preparation you have undergone, and still do, as a maker? Were you hooked to films from an early age? Have you always been clear about taking up film-making as a profession?

I was drawn to films from my school days. I remember I had note-books in which I kept track of all the films I have watched. I still have those note-books with me. Those were the days of good old Doordarshan, satellite television was yet to arrive, and I was exposed to all kinds of films shown on Doordarshan, was quite a rich variety. Of course, there were visits to the cinema, limited to just once or twice a year. As I grew up, the profession attracted me, but I was not sure if it would suit me best. In my college days, I have worked as a door-to-door marketing professional for newspapers. I went on to obtain a diploma in journalism and even worked as a reporter. Quite a few of my articles got published in newspapers. However, it was only when I joined the Asian Academy of Film and Television (AAFT) that I realized exactly what I wanted to be or do.

Would you say that having a stable day-job is a viable option for experimental film-makers?

Experimental film-makers are the worst hit people, that's what I feel. The path is very dangerous, risky as well as challenging. If a person has belief in himself, I believe, he can keep experimenting. A stable job does help one sustain himself/herself financially. As of me, I’m really thankful to my wife (Ananya) for supporting me unconditionally. Without her support I don’t think I would have been able to sustain and continue my journey.

I know that you enjoy watching a wide variety of films, national and international, are there any particular influences or favorite directors that you would like to name?

First and foremost, the person I worship: Ritwik Kumar Ghatak. Also, Bela Tarr, Guru Dutt, Charlie Chaplin, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Vittorio Di Sica, and Kim Ki Duk, to name a few..... the list actually goes on.

There are two distinct lines of thought that prevail about the Bangla film industry.... some say that it is a promising time for Bangla films as of now, while others rue that things are quite depressing.... what is your take?

Honestly we shouldn't go by numbers or statistics. Every other person boasting to have an impressive box-office record is nothing but a publicity stunt. When you go to the cinema-hall, you find out how many people are actually watching. The reason may not only be the product but there's also the problem of piracy, and the dwindling number of single-screen theaters. All these actually take a toll on the regional cinema market which happens to be limited.

What have been the biggest challenges for you as a film-maker right now?

To find the right set of persons who would understand my way of functioning. The way I think and connect with them. It’s not only about making a film, to me, it’s way beyond that. We need to learn and educate. To think that the audiences are fools is a big mistake. The most alarming challenge is the loss of unity. We should first unite and then only as a generation, can we strive further and make this era worth remembering. Though the immediate signs are negative, hopes are always positive.

Surely, I share those hopes. Now throw some light on your future plans, will you?

Well, my plans obviously have been about making films, not sounding too ambitious hopefully. I have been busy with a documentary on Ritwik Ghatak named 'The Ritwik Ghatak Experience' for the past three years. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to show it to the world. Two other documentaries are also into post-production, one on eminent cinematographer Ramananda Sengupta and the other on national Award Winning Film Director, Nripen Ganguly. Again, I’m unsure about their release. As far as the short films are concerned, there's one called 'Et Tu Brute..?'. A few more plans are there and shall be shared hopefully soon. I have registered my production house (Arin Paul Productions) and the documentaries and short films are being made under this banner.


LoverBoy said...

The Bangla film industry needs more people like Arin Paul to bring in fresh ideas and creative excellence; the industry needs such people more than they need the projects, it's high time that the industry takes note of the home-grown talents in direction.

Arpita said...

He should be making more feature films, I hope the backers/producers are taking note of this promising director.

Sharmee said...

Enjoyed the conversation, but I wish there was more.

Nilanjan Datta said...

Arin always an "Out Of The Box Thinker" .. Wish him all the best for his upcoming projects.

Anirban Halder said...

Arin's interview, needless to say, is a pleasant surprise, buddy. Good to come across his present thoughts and plans. I so wish my friend makes a movie that scores with the audience.

sumit said...

I had heard some time back that the director has shifted to Mumbai, is it true? Does that mean he will be making films in Hindi now?