Article Bengali

Awards matter, more so in an industry where the money isn't great, says director Srijit Mukherji


Srijit Mukherji, Churni Ganguly, Indraadip Dasgupta and Sagnik Chatterjee's victories at the 66th National awards are a validation for the film industry in Bengal.

Roushni Sarkar

Srijit Mukherji, Churni Ganguly, Indraadip Dasgupta and Sagnik Chatterjee won important awards in different categories at the 66th National Film Awards on Friday.

Noted music director Indraadip Dasgupta received the Jury award for his directorial debut film Kedara, an award he shared with the makers of the Gujarati film Hellaro (2019).

Filmmaker and actress Churni Ganguly received the National award for Best Dialogues for her film Tarikh. Srijit Mukherji’s Ek Je Chhilo Raja was chosen the Best Bengali Film and Sagnik Chatterjee won in the Best Debut Non-Feature Film of a Director category for his docu-feature Feluda: 50 Years Of Ray's Detective.

Ganguly, elated to receive her second National award, said, “It’s always wonderful to win an award. Initially, I was in a state of disbelief, but when I settled down a bit, it felt wonderful. The entire team is extremely proud. To think that 400 films were submitted at the national level and the jury thought this film is worthy of receiving the award is a great validation.”

Ganguly’s debut film Nirbashito (2014) had won the National award for Best Bengali Film and also bagged the Sound Design trophy. “It was a new feeling then," Ganguly told Cinestaan.com. "However, this time it is equally exciting. It is a great honour.”

Ganguly was also happy for the other winners and proud that together they had been able to represent Bengali cinema at the national level. “We are all friends and we work here under grave constraints. Hence, when our work gets recognized, it feels great,” she explained.

Dasgupta was also excited to receive what he considers the highest award in the country. “It is a greater feeling to receive the award for a debut film," he added. "It has increased my responsibility towards cinema and also motivates me to make better films.”

Dasgupta was associated with Ek Je Chhilo Raja as music director and so considers that film's award a bonus for him. “I have been working in the industry for many years but did not receive any National award before. Now it feels great to get recognition for both my work as a director and a music director. It is a matter of great mental peace,” he said. Kedara is slated for release in the first week of November.

Mukherji, on the other hand, is quite used to recognition at the National awards by now. The Best Bengali Film award for Ek Je Chhilo Raja is his third. He had earlier received awards in different categories for his films Jaatiswar (2014) and Chotushkone (2014).

“It is a great feeling for me, as I have received the award for a new category this time," the filmmaker said. "I genuinely feel awards are very important, especially for an industry where money cannot be considered a great incentive of abundance.” However, he clarified that the win does not necessarily dictate his motivation for making films.

Mukherji was also excited about Dasgupta and Ganguly's achievements. “I am extremely happy for them, especially for Indraadip, who has done a stupendous job as music director in Ek Je Chhilo Raja. Srijato [Bandopadhyay] wrote the lyrics for my film while he wrote the script for Kedara. That way we have an interesting connection,” the director said.

Mukherji also revealed that he was supposed to act in Ganguly’s Tarikh. “The original cast included me, Abir [Chatterjee] and Rituparna [Sengupta]. Also, I was blown away by Churni’s debut film Nirbasito. She is one of my favourite directors,” he said.

Sagnik Chatterjee, who spent many years in conceptualizing and making his dream documentary on Feluda, feels that with the recognition, his journey has reached a culmination. He gave the credit to his technicians and collaborators. “Also, I have to thank three people in this regard," he said. "Yogesh Masood, my professor and former head of the department at FTII, Pune. Then, Sandip Ray and Lalita Ray. Had not they given me permission to go ahead with the script and encouraged me throughout, I would not have been able to complete the project.”

Chatterjee described his documentary as a people’s film. He also emphasized that characters such as Feluda have an eternal relevance and through his documentary, he has only helped to revive Ray’s timeless creation.

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National Awards