Ribhu Dasgupta is currently shooting the last leg of his first directorial film Michael,across Kolkata. It has Naseeruddin Shah in the title role.
Tell us something about yourself.
I came to Mumbai towards the end of 2004 and lived with my brother Birsa,who was working with Anurag Kashyap on Black Friday. I always wanted to take up direction but before that,I decided to learn the basic nuances of filmmaking. I began assisting Anurag when he was making Gulaal. In fact I have virtually grown up in an ambience of filmmaking at home,as cinema spans three generations in the family. My first film was 1971 by Amrit Sagar,grandson of the late Ramanand Sagar that was released in 2007. My last work was when I assisted Shashank Ghosh for Quick Gun Murugan. I have made corporate films and television commercials independently. I recently directed a television show for Sahara. Over time,my interests also moved towards writing and direction.
Which Indian directors works,living and dead,specially from contemporary Bollywood do you hold close to your heart?
I must take Harisadhan Dasgupta,my grandfathers name first as it all started from there. I adore Rwitik Ghataks work followed by Satyajit Ray. In todays scenario I think Anurag Kashyap and Shekhar Kapur are responsible for bringing in a new wave and challenge in youngsters like me.
What is your film Michael all about?
It is a psychological thriller with many layers. It is about a man called Michael and his relationship with his 12-year-old son who is passionate about football. Michael is an ex-police officer and the story is about his journey to make a fortune for his son as a single parent. But he does not love football.
Michael discovers that he is slowly losing his vision. He meets Rwitika,a nurse in a hospital,and a subtle relationship develops between them – Mahie Gill is playing the nurse. He finds himself involved in a crime. The initial inspiration was a song by Cat Stephens. I strongly think the relationship between a father and a son is very subtle but has many layers. So putting it together on celluloid,I felt,would be ideal. I have written the story myself. It is fictitious with certain references from my personal life.
How did you choose your cast?
Though Naseer-sir was always there in mind,after I completed writing the script I realised that no one other than he would could fit into my perception of Michael. Mahie was the first choice for Rwitika. With Anurags help I roped her in. Sabyasachi Chakraborty is a prolific and talented actor. I always wanted to work with him. Rudroneel Ghosh is one of the finest acting talents in Bengali cinema right now. My brother Birsa helped me to get them to be a part of the film. They worked with him before and were also part of 033.
How did you manage to land a producer?
When Anurag (Kashyap) read the story,he said he would be a part of the film. When I finished writing the script,I gave it to Anurag. The credit for everything related to the film goes to him. He is the creative producer and is backing it all the way. It would have been difficult for me to make the film without his support. There are some friends of mine who have recently formed a company and were looking for the right project. When I approached them and they heard that Anurag is involved directly,they readily agreed to be a part of it.
Is there any specific reason to place the setting in Kolkata?
That is because the story is rooted in this city. I wanted to place my story against a city in a state of visual decay that features a character in decay. This decay,if I term it this way,has its own charm,its nostalgia,its sounds and smells that make it what it is. My story is based mainly in the northern parts of Kolkata where we still see slices of the old city minus the shopping malls and the multiplexes. Michaels character fits into the ambience to which he ought to belong.
Who are the members of your technical team?
Debaloy Bhattacharya has done the screenplay and also the dialogues with Neel Guha. Somak Mukherjee is the cinematographer. Kunal Sharma is the man behind the sound design.
Ribhu Dasgupta has never gone to any film school because he is the grandson of the father of the Indian documentary,Harisadhan Dasgupta. His father,Raja Dasgupta,is also a filmmaker. His brother,Birsa,has already established himself as a director with great potential with his debut feature 033 in Bengali. To repeat a cliché,cinema runs in his blood.