Interview Bengali

Want to change the perception of rural life through my work, says Pradipta Bhattacharya

The director's maiden web-series, Birohi, is being streamed on the newly launched OTT platform Uribaba.

Roushni Sarkar

National award-winning director Pradipta Bhattacharya’s maiden web-series Birohi shines the spotlight on a remote village in Bengal as well as characters and ways of life that are rarely depicted in contemporary cinema.

Featuring an ensemble cast of experienced artistes and newcomers, Birohi is being streamed on the newly launched Bengali web platform Uribaba since Friday 10 September.

Sayan Ghosh, who was seen as Indranath in Bhattacharya’s previous film Rajlokhi O Srikanto (2019), plays the protagonist Krishnakanta Halder, who gets a job at a primary school in Birohi village.

The local people, their lifestyle and practices come as a new experience to the young man. Satakshi Nandy plays Krishnakanta’s love interest Radha while Anuradha Mukherjee, Srabanti Bhattacharya, Amit Saha and Dipak Halder play other important roles.

The web-series's tagline Onyo Route er Golpo suggests that Birohi depicts an unusual journey, though the trailer hardly revealed much about the plot.

The director, happy that the series had raised anticipation among viewers, said, “The trailer reveals just as much I wanted to reveal regarding the storyline before the release. It’s a story about a boy from the suburbs who gets a job in a government school in a remote village following a period of struggle. A morose Krishnakanta Halder gets the job only to have his life changed through an unprecedented experience in the remote village.”

Pradipta Bhattacharya

According to the writer and director of Bakita Byaktigoto (2013), Bengali cinema these days hardly depicts authentic rural life. “I think it is important to depict the essence of a village,” he said. “I wanted to venture beyond a certain kind of packaged projection of Santiniketan and Kolkata as the representation of rural and urban life in Bengal."

The series is set in Bhattacharya’s own native village Tehatta in Nadia district, the same location where he shot Bakita Byaktigoto. Speaking of deriving inspiration from the days he spent in the village, Bhattacharya said, “Yes, only the portion of Krishnakanta getting a teacher's job at a remote village is inspired from the story of a friend, but the rest is fiction.”

Asked whether he thinks the series will resonate with a contemporary generation, the director said, “If you are speaking of the current generation from South Kolkata, then they might find the storyline to be exotic. But if you are talking about the entire Bengal, I am sure they will be able to relate with the series. The idea of 'contemporary generation' changes according to geography.”

The director, who has done three projects so far set in a rural backdrop, has always remained connected with rural life and believes in telling stories from his own experiences, “Villages are an important part of our life," he said. "For example, due to the suspension of local trains now, a lot of services have got disrupted. Vegetables are getting expensive for the same reason, but we kind of stay aloof when it comes to these practical aspects.”

Bhattacharya, however, clarified that the concepts behind Mohini village from Bakita Byaktigoto and Birohi are completely different. “Mohini could be there or can simply be a fantasy. Birohi, on the other hand, very much exists,” he said.

Bhattacharya hopes viewers will have an entertaining experience, similar to that at a Jatra show, while watching Birohi. “There are continuous ups and downs in the plot,” he said, speaking of the rustic flavour of the storyline. “The characters we normally come across in normal life have now come on screen and hence they are suddenly appearing as raw to the viewers.”

Recalling the fun-filled ride of shooting the series, he said, “There was no planned design of the shooting process. We worked with a free spirit, otherwise it would have been difficult to shoot a series of two-and-a-half hours in 10 days.” The director further said the team effort came not only from his artistes but also from the entire crew, the local musical artists and non-professional performers as well.

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