A psychologist shines in Cannes with his film having no star

Report by: 
Debanjan Mukherjee
Kolkata
14 May 2017

Receiving award at a grand festival is a dream that every filmmaker cherishes. They put their best efforts to pen the best scripts and work hard on every frame to make a project worthy of winning a award. But Sudeep Ranjan Sarkar never thinks in that way. A criminal psychologist by profession and a blend of a painter, poet, curio collector and filmmaker by passion, Sarkar is travelling to Cannes with his film Paradiso, which is just his second celluloid venture. He has already bagged Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the best director for Paradiso.
Asked how he is feeling after achieving success of such a level so early in his carrier, Sarkar said: "To be honest it has not made any big difference in me. I make films to express my thoughts, my imaginations not for any festival. Otherwise I would become a mental patient or may be a terrorist. People who observe my films closely say they find a rage in my way of storytelling. So for me film is just a medium of expressing myself. Yes it is a great thing that I am getting the opportunity if showing my film at such a big platform but that was never my goal".
Sarkar's previous film did not have any big star. Neither is Paradiso high on star value. Asked how he gets the confidence of making a good film without projecting any noted actor, Sarkar said: "It is a matter of mindset. We keep discussing about best camera, best lens, top stars but what actually gets us appreciation is storytelling. I come from Dhanbad. In our childhood movies were shown on playgrounds using projector and white cloth as screen. While seeing the characters I never thought about the actor portraying it. Later when I grew up and started studying on films I got to know about Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. He was considered as the God of cinema but his films were never ornamented with stars. What about our own Satyajit Ray. The man who has been honoured with an Oscar had made his first venture Pother Panchali without a star. So why do I need to depend on star value. Today's trend of writing stories keeping particular actors in mind surprises me. I won't say I will never work with stars but that will happen only when I feel that this character demands such or such actor," the film maker says..
Paradiso, in spite of a story of a Bengali family, is made in Hindi. Asked what is the reason behind this move, the psychologist-turned filmmaker said: "The story of Paradiso, though set in the backdrop of 60s in Kolkata, has a cosmopolitan appeal. Besides the market of Bengali cinema is so small. I could release my film only in 20-25 theaters whereas the scope is far bigger for Hindi films. So with a Bengali film I wouldn't get the reach I wish to". However Dr Sarkar added that he wishes to make a Bengali movie in future.
Paradiso is the story of a Bengali family of 1960s where the main protagonist is completely detached from everything and every other member. He lives in a world of his own which triggers various speculations about his activities among his wife, his family priest and his student. Things change completely when a psycholigist who is being appointed by the protagonist's wife to counsel him finds the reflection of his mentor in this man.
Produced by Rita Jhawar under the banner of Nez Moving Pixels, Paradiso has been made at a budget of around Rs 50 Lakhs. The film stars Mandeep Ghai, Suhas Suryavanshi, Sanjay Bhatia, Atul Mahajan,Sushil Bhosale, Indira and Neha Chandekar. Sarkar along with core members if Nez Moving Pixels will fly for Cannes today and Paradiso is scheduled for screening on May 24. "May be there will be a hype about me after I return from Cannes but that won't change anything. I will keep making cinema for people and myself not for box office. But I dream of that day when box office will wait for my work", Dr Sarkar said in the end.