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Interview Bengali

Sanjoy Nag thanks Hyderabad Bengali festival for sourcing unreleased films

Sanjoy Nag, director of the Soni Razdan-starrer indie film Yours Truly, speaks about why events like the 6th Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival are important.

Photo: Courtesy Sanjoy Nag

Roushni Sarkar

National award-winning filmmaker Sanjoy Nag’s critically acclaimed film Yours Truly, featuring Soni Razdan and Pankaj Tripathi, was screened in the Guest Films category at the 6th Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival recently.

The HBFF has been creating news not only for creating a carnival-like ambience in the city for three days (19–21 July), but also for its choice of films. HBFF premiered various films in Bengali and other languages and also showcased short and documentary films around the country.

Celebrities from around the country as well as from Bangladesh were invited to the festival with their films as well as to serve on the jury for the awards. In a brief conversation with Cinestaan.com, Nag shared his experience of attending the festival and the response his film received. Excerpts:

Please share your experience at the festival.

This was the 6th edition of the festival and I went there for the first time with my film. The experience was great in the sense that it was almost like a carnival. The films were screened at two venues. It was not only about the festival but the films that were being screened as well. In the main venue, Prasad Film Laboratories, feature films were screened while the short films and documentaries were screened at Annapurna Studio. Films competing for the Oscars have been shown as well.

Sanjoy Nag receives a memento at the HBFF. Photo: Courtesy Sanjoy Nag

It was almost like a mela [village fair]. There were food stalls, handicrafts being sold. There was a live music stage as well. I saw some of the best films that were screened there. It is primarily a Bengali film festival, but they have a Guest Films category in which Hindi, Telugu and English films were shown. My film was screened in this category.

I am delighted with the response I received after the screening. It was almost like coming to a carnival. I think the Bengali residents there mark these days every year not only for the films but for the spirit of Bangla that is created there inside the campus, along with food, music and adda [discussions].

How was the reaction to the screening of Yours Truly?

I did not expect so many people to watch a Hindi film at a Bengali film festival. It was a houseful show, that too at 12:45 pm. It was followed by a question-answer session. MM Kreem had composed the music for my previous film Good Morning, Sunshine. We had sent him an invitation and he was also present at the session. He also voiced his opinion regarding various aspects of the film. That was quite unexpected for me.

Soni Razdan and Ahana Kumra in a scene from Yours Truly

Yours Truly review: Sanjoy Nag’s film a poignant exploration of loneliness, love and desire

I enjoyed the session much more than the fact that my film had a houseful show. It was quite interesting to know their takeaways from the film. Some of them could relate with the issue of loneliness depicted in the film; the others enjoyed it as a love story. Many of them also shared anecdotes from their own lives relating to the subject. It was quite satisfying for me.

At the inaugural ceremony, Amala Akkineni said it is more important to organize film festivals than religious festivals so that people from different backgrounds can come together. What is your take on that?

See, the big film festivals will always be there, but it is more important to organize small boutique festivals around the country. In these festivals there is better scope for interacting with the audience. As actors or filmmakers, artistes always look for opportunities to know the responses of the intended audiences. It is quite difficult to know the audience’s perspective in the age of Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. There are reactions on social media, but that is not a direct platform for interaction.

Only these film festivals provide us with such platforms. Here people who love cinema take two-three days off and watch films. They can talk to the filmmakers and the artistes involved at the question-answer segments and the interactive sessions. They can voice their opinions regarding what they liked and did not. The feedback is important. At least I always follow the interactive sessions.

I completely agree with what she [Amala] said. These film festivals also allow the artistes to be aware of the reality. Otherwise, films are screened and we hardly get to know about the audience’s feelings. We filmmakers should always be educating and updating ourselves with the elements the audience is accepting or rejecting, so that we can bring about changes in our perspectives while making films. Also, personally, being an old-school fellow, I like to watch films in an auditorium with a hundred other people rather than on a phone or tablet. For me, that is a different feeling altogether.

Many films were premiered at the HBFF. How important do you think are such festivals for supporting independent films?

I think these festivals provide platforms to screen films and open opportunities for getting distribution, because most of the unreleased films screened at the HBFF did not, perhaps, have proper distribution options. It is possible that the filmmakers can get the traction of having these films released in the theatres or on online platforms after the screenings because that is what their basic intention is. I am thankful to HBFF for going out of their way to source films that have not been released. It is indeed a laudable step.

Related topics

Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival