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Interview Bengali

Avijatrik is a human story that people will connect with, says producer Madhur Bhandarkar

Directed by Subhrajit Mitra, Avijatrik narrates the journey of Apu and Kajol from where it ended in Satyajit Ray's Apur Sansar (1959).

Roushni Sarkar

Madhur Bhandarkar has ventured into Bengali cinema as producer with Subhrajit Mitra’s upcoming film Avijatrik (2021).

Bhandarkar has co-produced the film, conceived as a continuation of Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy, with Gaurang Jalan and Sumit Agarwal.

Starring Arjun Chakraborty as Apu, Avijatrik is based on the last leg of Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay’s novel Aparajito and takes off from where Ray’s Apur Sansar (1959) ended.

The film also stars Arpita Chatterjee, Ditipriya Roy, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Sreelekha Mitra and Barun Chanda. Ahead of its theatrical release on 3 December, Bhandarkar told Cinestaan.com what made him choose to join the film's team and shared his joy at the response it has received at several film festivals around the world. Excerpts:

This is your maiden Bengali venture as a producer. How did you get associated with the film?

As a filmmaker and storyteller, I got fascinated with the thought and subject of Avijatrik when I first heard the narration. It is a beautiful script, there is a lot of drama with soulful music. Subhrajit narrated the script so well, I got convinced. Also, I have been a Ray fan and Gaurang Jalan told me that this is the concluding part of the novel Aparajito [and] begins from where Ray’s Apur Sansar ended, and I said why not take up the project! That’s how I got associated with Avijatrik.

What was your reaction after watching the film?

The film is mesmerizing. It has been to more than 40 festivals and has been awarded in many categories. The kind of response we are getting at every international film festival and also when it was premiered at the 26th Kolkata International Film Festival and 52nd International Film Festival of India, Goa, everybody loved the film.

Did you ever feel any pressure while producing a film conceived as a continuation of Ray’s Apu trilogy?

Ray saheb has always made masterpieces. Avijatrik has nothing to do with his work. This is basically the concluding part of it.

See, we all have been Ray fans. I would rather say Subhrajit Mitra has delivered a tribute to Ray saheb,

The film is finally hitting the screens on 3 December. What are your expectations and what would you like to tell the audience?

The film has some great performances by Arpita, Arjun, Sabyasachi and everyone else. They have done a great job. The film shot in black and white transports you to the era of the 1940s. The music by Bickram Ghosh and the theme tune recreated by Anoushka Shankar are brilliant.

I want to tell the audience that Avijatrik is a human story and everyone will connect with it big time.

Any plans to produce more Bengali films?

Yes, why not! I am interested in any regional film with good content. I feel art has no boundaries and today we connect with films from all around the world on OTT platforms.

Do you think there is a decline in Bengali cinema?

I don’t think it’s a decline. It’s just a phase. This phase comes in every film industry. I feel this is a temporary phase and post-COVID, people have become concerned about many aspects of filmmaking. But this is a passing phase.