After nearly a decade’s work, Cholo Potol Tuli- the big screen adaptation of the Bengali play of the same name, will get a theatre release this Durga Puja on October 21.
The film hit several roadblocks on the way, says director Arindam Ganguly.
“It took a lot of struggle, and it was halted several times since several years now because the last two producers suddenly backed off due to their own inability. I thought it will never make it to the theatres until (dramatist) Shaonli Mazumdar came up with the proposal of producing it while in a random conversation. I am very glad and thankful to Shaonli for this,” he said.
Cholo Potol Tuli is a social satire depicted through slapstick comedy, combined with several short stories by popular Bengali writer Shibram Chakraborty based in the 1950s. It took a decade’s struggle for the actor, director and music composer Ganguly to adapt the play from the stage to the big screen.
Asked when he thought of adapting the play into a film, he said: “The play was so immensely popular, I thought if it could be made into a film, I will be able to deliver it to more people. I always wished to showcase it on the big screen as Bengali cinema lacks these kinds of pure comedy films and also because when a film is done, it adds an ‘archival value’ to it.”
Although Ganguly began his journey in Bengali films as a child actor, he started his directorial career from 1995 and has directed several telefilms and television serials. After 25 years of directing for the small screen, this film marks his directorial debut in cinema. “I am thankful to Shaonli for finally taking this film to theatres and making this movie my directorial debut,” he said.
Produced by Shaonli Mazumdar and presented by Pastel Entertainments, Ganguly said he has retained the entire original cast – Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Kheyali Dastidar, Kharaj Mukhopadhyay, Aparajita Addya, Rimjhim Mitra. The new members that have joined the team are actor Gaurav Chakraborty and the director himself.
The play conveys the message that being self centred will isolate an individual from the rest of the world. Penned back in the 1950s, the progressive nature of the stories gives a glimpse of the writer’s farsightedness for dealing with social practices like nuclear families, which were then an emerging concept.
Ganguly hummed a few lines of the film’s song, sung by Javed Ali, Rupam Islam and Shaan, and explained how he managed to bring the relevance of the stories to the present times.
“Jontro eneche dur ke kache, nikot hoeche dur; sei bari ta ek e ache, ghor bhenge chur chur (Technology has brought us closer, distance has now waned; while the house remains the same, the home has fallen apart),” he sang from the song.
Elaborating on the song, he said that while traditionally people lived together as one in a joint family, homes have broken down with the evolution of nuclear families.
Reciting the song’s last two lines, he said: “Prithibi ta aaj chhoto hoye geche, mon ta ke chhoto kore (the world has shrunk and so have people’s hearts).”
“The film is shown through the eyes of a drug addict based in 2020 played by Sabyasachi’s son Gaurav Chakraborty. He is taken to a rehabilitation centre where he is treated by a counsellor played by me. There is a dialogue where Gaurav says, ‘Ami drug addict bole ami koto eka hoye gechi, amar barir lok amar songe sei bhabe kotha bole na’ (Since I am a drug addict I am very lonely, none of my family members talk to me) During the therapy, Chakraborty narrates relatable, funny stories of his uncle’s life which takes the film back into the original play through a flashback and then the values are brought back through those stories,” Ganguly said.
Feeling nostalgic about completing 54 years in Bengali cinema, he says: “I started my career when I was a mere five-year-old in 1966. Everybody thinks that Hangsharaj was my first film but it was actually my 16th film.”
“I am one of the senior-most artists of this industry now and have got the chance to work with stalwarts starting from Uttam Kumar to several others. I am attached to the industry since childhood and this has never faded away. I dreamt of making films and to bring back the essence of good old Bengali cinema- one which would have a beautiful story, a song, that is loved by everybody because it gives a feel-good experience to the whole family. This is what compelled me to make Cholo Potol Tuli which has melodious songs and which will be loved by everyone and will them everyone laugh. If someone doesn’t understand the satire, they will enjoy the comic act throughout,” he added.
Ganguly is hopeful of the film having a successful run at the theatres. The film’s official trailer, which was released on Facebook on October 4, has registered over one lakh views. He said that such a huge response from the people without any promos make him even more hopeful.