I believe if the audiences watch first 10 minutes of this film, they won't be able to leave the hall.
Gazi Rakayet, the multi-talented actor, director, screen-writer and playwright, who graced the small screen and our theatre stages from late '80s, has finally launched himself as a film director with his debut feature film, Mrittika Maaya. He is the Founder Director of Charuneedam School of Acting and the General Secretary of the Director's Guild. In a candid conversation before screening the film in Jamuna Blockbuster Cinemas, the director talks about never giving up on one's dreams.
You received government funding for this film. Do you think it's possible to make a film with 35 lacs taka?
The total budget of my film was 80 lacs taka. I received 35 lacs taka from the government to make this film. Another 7 lacs for the camera I used. Impress Telefilm gave me 30 lacs taka. With it, they have also bought the copyright of the film. If they didn't help me then, I wouldn't be able to finish the film. 15 lacs taka was spent for dubbing and post-processing in Madras. I firmly believe other makers can't make this film with anything below 1.5 crore taka budget. We did extensive pre-planning. I had an edge being a civil engineer (BUET '93); so I engineered this film to be resource efficient. My shooting script was changed only 5%.
How did you manage to finish the film with such small fund?
I believe I have escaped a death trap. I've been trying to make a film for the last ten years. When I finally got the fund, I was petrified about how I'll make this film with just 35 lacs taka. I encashed FDRs, sold properties and borrowed money to make this film. I was working on the edge. God saved me with his bare hands. It was raining one day, but right before we began shooting, it stopped raining. Even if one day of shooting was spoiled, I wouldn't be able to finish shooting.
What were the considerations for choosing your cast and crew?
I hired the cast and crew whose work I admire. The lead actress, Shormy Mala acted in one of my dramas. I was amazed by her acting. Titash, the lead actor, I would say is an international level actor. I discovered him in one of my serials called Ghar Chhara. In camera, I took Badol who is a Pune Film School graduate. Art director, Uttom Guho, was extraordinary as always.
Why didn't you release the film in more cinema halls?
Mrittika Maaya was shot on 35mm film. We needed 1.25 lacs taka for each print. The halls did not think my film would be profitable. So, nobody was willing to make that additional investment. If we can't release our films in theatres, how can we create an audience? I want our halls to show foreign films because we have to bring the audience into the halls. Our theatres never had beautiful screens like the ones in Bombay or Delhi even in our golden years of cinema. So we haven't ever experienced cinema in its full glory.
I want to establish Charmatrik Shangskritik Andolon on 4 objectives:
To establish an international standard theatre outside of the traditional film distribution system in every district
To have a banyan tree in every district decentralizing Ramna Botomul
To decentralize Shaheed Minar (Let's say if Sheikh Hasina goes to the Shaheed Minar in Faridpur and Khaleda Zia goes to that in Chittagong or some other place, we can glamourize the decentralization of Shaheed Minar.)
To teach our students correct Bengali language
Interviewed by Sadia Khalid