By Rituparna Sengupta Basu
Aritra Das, small town bong boy, a techie turned producer, in a quick chat with Expresso shares his journey of B-town. While talking about the journey he always says that “determination and struggle always win the game”.
Expresso: How do you account for the success of Cakewalk? How did the film’s storyline come to your mind?
Aritra: Cakewalk is the first baby of our production. When we first made the project, we thought of making it big, however, we never thought that it will be so immensely successful. One of the biggest platforms of the country has taken over the movie and this is a huge responsibility. The idea of Cakewalk came to director Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s mind first. It is a very simple story but with a strong message to all the working women of the society. Even after being in a family, taking responsibilities of each member, one can still pursue her dream, can achieve her goal. But unfortunately, our society still needs to accept the fact that women have equal rights to fulfil their dreams with the support of their families. We have tried to show the reality of our society, the mindset, in a very subtle way.
Expresso: You always say that Ram Kamal Mukherjee and you both wanted to set a benchmark. So what kind of benchmark is this? Can you share with us?
Aritra: By saying we have created a benchmark I would like to emphasise that this is the first time any short film has been premiered worldwide on Television in a prime time channel and this is what we call a benchmark. Till date, to my knowledge, no short film has been taken on this level. This is a great achievement as well as a great challenge to all the producers like us to make films of this level so that the whole world can see the film not only on the digital platform but also on television.
Expresso: Why did you choose Celina Jaitly and Esha Deol Takhtani as opposed to other eminent artists?
Aritra: It was never a conscious decision to make both Cakewalk and Seasons Greetings with Esha Deol or Celina Jaitly. But they fit the script so well that we couldn’t think of someone else. For Cakewalk, we first narrated the story to Esha and she immediately said ‘yes’ to it. For Celina, we thought that she has never played a character like Romita, before. Both Esha and Celina are the finest actors we have in Bollywood, but they have not done these kinds of characters before, so it was challenging for them.
Expresso: Now you have appointed Manisha Basu, Bollywood’s first intimacy supervisor, how do you describe it?
Aritra: The concept of an “Intimacy supervisor” is very new in B-Town as well as Tollywood. It has come from Hollywood. While filming Seasons Greetings we had an intimate scene between Celina and Azhar. It is during that time our director came up with the idea of having intimacy supervisor on the set. Manisha Basu is a friend of ours as well as the choreographer of our movie. When we first approached she was not clear about it. After we described the role of an intimacy supervisor in detail to her, she says yes to it. On the day of the shoot, both Celina and Azhar had some apprehensions about filming the scene. So, she spoke to them at a length and assured them that if she finds anything uncomfortable she will stop the shoot and will ask the director to change the scene. It is a very new concept and after the #MeToo movement I think we need this.
Expresso: How has the journey from software professional to the producer been?
Aritra: The journey from a software professional to a film producer has been very fascinating. While working in a software industry I have always wanted to do something out of the box which is different from what I was doing. It was never a conscious decision to make. After left the job I was thinking to start my company and get into the social media business. Then through a common friend, I met Ram da’. He was already running this production house called Assorted Motion Pictures. Somehow while discussing his idea of making movies and planning of execution I thought of taking a plunge into film production. I shared my thoughts with him and he happily accepted the idea.
Expresso: You belong from medical family background and as in the industry you are different. How did you find your own comfort zone in it?
Aritra: Belonging to a medical family, we never had much of a connection with films. So, when I decided to be part of this showbiz business, my family was a little sceptical about my decision, but they didn’t stop me. They all have supported me throughout and with their blessings I am here today.
Expresso: Do you have any plan to produce a big banner movie in future?
Aritra: Yes definitely, by the end of the year, if everything goes well by God’s grace, we will very soon start our first big banner movie.
Expresso: What makes your production house different from the others? Why did you choose the name Assorted motion pictures?
Aritra: As I have mentioned Assorted Motion Pictures was already there and Ram Kamal Mukherjee was heading it. Coming to the second part of your question of how we thought of keeping the name Assorted, Assorted means consisting of various types mixed together. We do not want to make movies of only one concept or one genre, but of different subjects and unique concepts.
Expresso: To whom do you owe your success?
Aritra: First I owe my success to my parents, my family because without their support and blessings I wouldn’t have been able to come out of my comfort zone. Secondly, I owe my success to our director Ram Kamal Mukherjee. I never had any idea of making films, but he has helped me learn the business and has guided me throughout.
Expresso: What’s your success mantra for upcoming producers?
Aritra: My success mantra is to be focussed on your goal, believe in the subject which you are going to make, take initiative in the production, get into the process and be a part of it as if it is your baby.
Expresso: You mentioned that your next film “Season Greetings” is coming soon. Tell us something about it?
Aritra: Seasons Greetings is a tribute to legendary filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh. It is a story of a mother-daughter relationship (played by Celina Jaitley and Lillette Dubey) and it deals with the abolition of the much talked about article 377.