Senior actor and thespian Supriya Pathak has been shooting without a break. She has a number of releases lined up this year such as Toofan, Mimi, Rashmi Rocket, Big Bull and Manohar Pandey. While she is gearing up for Manohar Pandey, that is being produced by Surinder Films under Nispal Singh and Surinder Singh. For this film, Supriya Pathak collaborated with director Kaushik Ganguly, National Award-winning actor/director of films like Nagarkirtan, Apur Panchali, Bishorjan, Shabdo, Laptop and Chotoder Chobi. In an exclusive chat with Cinema Journal, she talks about what got her excited about this project, the kind of changes the entertainment industry is going through and if the theatres will see a revival of audiences. Excerpts from the interview:
What made you sign this project with director Kaushik Ganguly?
The film is tentatively called Manohar Pandey. The story is one that you can relate to. After reading the script for the first time, I got very taken in and was moved by the story. As a reader, I enjoyed reading the script and was hooked to it. The casting really attracted me. It is unusual and layered. Wonderful actors like Saurabh Shukla and Raghubir Yadav are part of our cast. I know them for a long time and share a warm relationship with them. I knew that I was going to be part of a very interesting project and signed it.
What factors do you consider before taking up a new project?
The most important factor that I consider before signing any project is my role in the film and what I can perform in that parameter. Next up, is whether the role I perform makes any difference in the progress of the film and how the character grows in the film. Third, if I enjoy reading the script in its first reading, I become sure of the audience enjoying it as well. I don’t like signing boring films which people don’t enjoy watching and others make just for the sake of art. No! That is not me!
How is Kaushik Ganguly as a director?
After reading the script I talked to him (Kaushik) over the phone. I didn’t know him personally, but when I talked to him, I found him to be an extremely honest person. He is a wonderful human being to work with. He wanted to make this film because he believed in its subject. Finally, when I met him, it all fell into place!
As a veteran actor, do you find the entertainment industry going through a change?
Yes, definitely the industry is going through a transition. The industry is now becoming very content-driven, which is a blessing! I am hoping that there will be a more definite change very soon. Now, the audiences have access to a lot of international cinema which will inevitably give rise to comparisons. Therefore, regional content and its story-telling becomes important, besides acting and other nuances of characterisation. You are not just compared to an actor in your industry, you are now compared to an actor from abroad!
Do you think audiences will return to the theatres?
My last theatrical release, titled Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi in 2020 had done wonderful business. Currently, people are scared yet tired of being bogged down and stuck in their homes. They are craving a theatrical release, badly. People are holidaying and venturing out to travel more than they did three months back. The theatre will definitely get back its loyal audience. We were surprised when our (Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi) film did so well in the theatres, in spite of restrictions!
Will the audience see the return of larger-than-life cinema?
There are thousands of stories that are waiting to be told, whether larger than life or not. Going to the theatres for intimate storytelling is also an outing of sorts. Having said that, cinema might just become more available on over-the-top (OTT). The mega budget, larger than life cinema is all about the stars who enjoy a massive fan base. There are certain kinds of stories that people want to watch only at the big screen.
Will the business dynamics change too?
Personally, I feel everyone makes a film with keeping a budget in mind. If that budget is consciously kept under control, nobody will ever incur any loss. So, one has to be intelligent with respect to the budget and its investment while making a film.
Kaushik Ganguly on his Hindi debut, Manohar Pandey
“The film has multiple layers and will appeal to all kinds of people. It is being made in Hindi because it deserves a wider viewership. It is not just about Kolkata. It has a universal appeal. My cast is unique because the characters demand that variety. We also have other actors from Bengal in the team.”