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Interview Bangladeshi Bengali

Wanted to create the suffocating ambience we are in, says director Shahrear Polock on Dure Thaka Kacher Manush 

Featuring Vikram Chatterjee and Rafiath Rashid Mithila, this lockdown short, presented by Tvwala Media, is the first of its kind Indo-Bangladesh collaboration.  

Photo: Courtesy Shahrear Polock

Roushni Sarkar

Shahrear Polock, known for making commercials in Bangladesh, has directed his first Indo-Bangladesh lockdown short, Dure Thaka Kacher Manush, featuring Bangladeshi artiste Rafiath Rashid Mithila and Bengali film and television actor Vikram Chatterjee. Polock has also worked in music videos with Asha Bhosle, Hariharan, Anupam Roy and Madhubanti Bagchi. 

The director is grateful to the presenters, Tvwala Media, for the initiative, which not only helped him in fulfilling his desire to work on an Indo-Bangladesh project, but also because completing it has been a learning experience for him.

The world is stuck on many levels due to the lockdown and it is difficult to say when normalcy will be restored. “Amit Ganguly, the owner of Tvwala Media advised me to do something so that we could keep the creativity going at a certain level. Hence, we decided to start working on a film, with the technological and online access we have. We researched and got hold of a short story by Abhra Chowdhury and focused on two characters from India and Bangladesh, who had a relationship long back, but for unknown reasons, separated,” said Polock.

Polock and his team did not really intend to infuse complexities into the narrative, rather they wanted to reflect on the current crisis the world is going through. Having been an ad filmmaker primarily, whenever Polock has attempted to make short films, the logistics have made it difficult for him to proceed. “However, this lockdown has made the entire process quite simple. I could finally figure out that in order to tell a story, one doesn’t need to preoccupy the mind with the complications of logistics,” he said. 

In the short film, Mithila plays Bonya Rahman, a multifaceted activist and a singer. While writing to her long estranged boyfriend Dipto (Chatterjee), she once says that working from home is more time consuming than working in office.

Polock too has gone through a similar experience while making the film. “Generally, I take three days to complete a professional project under pressure. However, I realised that while working at home, no pressure of a deadline could be of help. In normal circumstances, the film perhaps would have been completed in five days but we took 20 days instead,” he said.

Polock is quite happy with the production of a professional package that has proper sound and music too. The music team BeatKol has helped in creating the music and the background score for the short.

The story doesn’t really disclose the reason behind Bonya and Dipto’s separation, neither does it indicate the direction their reconnection will take. “The story is about a simple gesture. At the end, they only ask each other to keep the virtual connection going. We have only attached a storyline to support this gesture. The primary focus of the story is on their daily routine, while being quarantined inside the confinement of four walls. We did not show other locations at all. Rather, we wanted to create the suffocating ambience we all are in,” he explained.

Polock, who preferred to keep the fillm open ended, also said that the characters could have been two friends instead of a former couple.

The director was quite clear that he wanted professional actors for the project. “Amit Ganguly advised me to approach both Vikram and Mithila. It was also a challenge for me to approach professional actors as I had not done any work of a similar kind. Amit Da knew both Mithila and Vikram, and I too, was acquainted with Mithila,” he stated. 

“We have known for long that it is possible to shoot pro level videos on iPhones. However, we never thought of doing so,” said Polock, while speaking of the new challenges of shooting in isolation. “However, the problem was the files on iCloud were too heavy. Both Mithila and Vikram almost had 70 to 80 takes. Hence, the entire process of correcting the shots and getting done with them took almost three days for each of them. In normal circumstances, it might not have taken more than one day. Both of them never had shooting experiences and hence, we had to face a lot of challenges,” he added.

Polock is looking forward to collaborating on more  projects with the Bengali film industry as he feels it is important for both industries. “Now we have formed a new pattern of work and I hope there will be new opportunities in the future,” he said. 

Watch the film:

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