A Debut Unforgettable
She was already doing fairly well with a heart full of dire passion for artistic photoplay, but she felt something was still missing. In search for the missing piece, Suborna Senjutee Tushee left the country for Pune's Film and Television Institute. After attaining a grip of confidence, the woman behind the camera set out to establish her unique aptitude. And next scene – Senjutee was accepting the Grand Prix Award for her shortfilm 'Meenalap' on the '14th Eurasia International Film Festival'!
Tell us about your background. What motivated you to make short films?
I used to be a creative writer. I worked along with Nurul Alam Atique bhai for a good period of time. As I developed a knack of script writing, Atique bhai encouraged me to apply to FTII in Pune. There I completed my Diploma in Film Direction and Script Writing. I had also worked for Bitopi Group, Bashundhara Group and Bhorer Kagoj. Working with these houses helped me develop a thing for arts, especially films. The first project with me behind the camera took place back in 2012. As a part of my study in FTII, I had to submit a plan for a full-length film as well. It's entirely the student's intellectual property, so I can make a film on the script any time I want. Perhaps being in constant touch with writing and directing has dragged me to where I am right now.
Let's hear more about your award-winning brainchild.
Actually, Meenalap is a film that needs to be seen, in order to be understood. Describing won't do enough justice here. I used to observe a lot of underprivileged people who came from the rural areas to Pune. They mostly worked as construction workers and goldsmiths along with the Marathi people in Maharashtra. They came in clusters searching for better days. That is basically the base of the plot. A similar Bengali couple moves to Pune and the story revolves around their journey. There was no special memory or incident based on which I made the film. I had a deep desire to make something with which I can connect with the audience of all intellectual levels. The shooting took place in Pune. It might be claimed that the film portrays too much of the physical life, gives more practical examples than touching spirituality. But I believe that until I truly and completely understand the physical world, I would not be able to explore the spiritual or psychological world.
What about the cast of your short film?
Titash Datta played the role of the female protagonist. She is a trained actor who previously worked with theater groups. She has her paternal roots here in Bangladesh. We worked together for about one month. She gave me a lot of support and cooperated thoroughly. The male protagonist was played by Pramit Datta. He did not have any acting experience or degree. It was his very first acting stint, and that's what we actually needed from the character he played. It was the first camera appearance for both the artists. The script initially demanded no glamour or stardom from the cast. That would only distract the audience from the film's original purpose. I am still learning the science, and so I am not yet into targeting audience groups or tagging my film as an 'art film' or a 'commercial film'. To be honest, I don't even understand the criteria for these tags. All I know is that my film is a Bangladeshi film, and I think that's just the right amount of categorizing needed for this movie. It is true that we are influenced by the traits and rules of the international film industries, but we need to understand that our industry is yet to overcome many setbacks to grow such attitudes regarding movie promotions.
Who are your idols in film direction?
That's a very difficult question. Every director has his or her own specialty, own signature, which has its own beauty. I cannot name one and exclude another! I have been influenced by a plethora of filmmakers. At the same time, being one of a kind is also another challenge that I love to take. I want my films to resemble only me and my perspectives. Currently, I am working on aspects related to women and feminism; so I am focusing on women directors, their styles and their diversity.
Tell us about your future plans.
I am working on an archaeological documentary right now. It focuses on two excavation fields in Bangladesh. I plan to wrap up this project within 6 months. I also have a short film planned, although I don't know when and where the shooting will take place. But I have the script ready. And I also have a grand plan for the script I submitted for my diploma. So far it seems like a mammoth task, but I am gathering myself for a perfect execution.
Do you have any special message for your team?
I would like to thank Premendra Majumdar for everything he has done for me. It didn't take long for us to become friends. It was him who submitted my film to the festival, because I had almost zero idea on how to proceed. I would also like to thank every single cast and crew member for such wonderful and dedicated cooperation. I consider myself extremely lucky for getting such passionate team members. Since the festival reserves the copyright, we cannot do any commercial screening of Meenalap for the next two years. But hopefully after that, the film will be available for the common audience of the country.