Article Bengali Hindi

It is our collective responsibility to partake in what our leaders are doing: Aparna Sen


On the second day of the Jagran Film Festival, actress-filmmaker Aparna Sen spoke about her latest release and the contemporary political landscape.

Aparna Sen in conversation with film critic Rajeev Masand at the Jagran Film Festival 2019

Our Correspondent

On day two of the Jagran Film Festival in the capital, actress and filmmaker Aparna Sen spoke about her latest film, Ghawre Bairey Aaj, which had its world premiere at the festival on Thursday 18 July.

Though based on a well-known novel by Rabindranath Tagore, the film is inspired by the 2017 killing of activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh, which shook the nation.

Auteur Satyajit Ray had adapted Tagore's novel into a film titled Ghare Baire (1984). Sen’s film chronicles a triangular love story which is as much a story of passionate romance as it is of clashing ideologies.

Talking about the film, Aparna Sen revealed that the character of Nikhilesh was loosely based on that of Gauri and the film attempts to offer both sides of a debate. "I have tried to give two sides of the argument in this film, so I hope it provokes a sane, rational debate," Sen said. "I hate being shrill or preachy.”

She added, “For me, it is very important in a healthy democracy to have a strong opposition. If the actual political opposition cannot get together, then we need a civilian opposition.”

Addressing the audience she said, “I see it as our collective responsibility to partake in what our leaders are doing. That will make for a healthy nation.”

Looking back at her film career, Sen said, “Making one’s first film is like a love affair.” She said that while she achieved a certain stature in Bengali cinema through mainstream films, she chose to take a different path as director. “As a filmmaker, I don’t make formula films,” she said, counting 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), Paromitar Ek Din (2000) and The Japanese Wife (2010) as films that are close to her heart.

Sen also revealed that as an actress, she learnt so much on the sets of her films: “Working in cinema, I learnt more than people do by going to film school. I was very curious and watched the process well.”

She shared an interesting anecdote about how she was supposed to be cast as Bimala in Ray’s Ghare Baire and when the filmmaker did not, she never let him hear the end of it!

Contemplating the idea of good cinema, Aparna Sen said, “For me, good cinema is where you can only tell a story through moving images. That’s the art of cinema. Nowhere else do you see anyone at such close range than in cinema through the close-up. It’s a very important device available only in cinema. For me, cinema is very much about moving images.”

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Jagran Film Festival