A filmmaker who Dared to Dream with homage to Godard

A filmmaker who Dared to Dream with homage to Godard
Courtesy: Swastik Choudhury;

Indian National Award-winning filmmaker, Amartya Bhattacharyya, brought his Odia language feature film ‘Adieu Godard’ to the film festival circuit in the UK recently and went on to bag the ‘Dare to Dream’ award at the 24th UK Asian Film Festival (UKAFF) in London. Set against the rural backdrop of Odisha in north-eastern India, the socio-cultural comedy ‘Adieu Godard’ is a homage to the French filmmaker Jean Luc-Godard.

“It has been an overwhelming experience to get the awards for this film. This film is important to me because there is an emotional connect as I was paying tribute to my favourite filmmaker, Jean Luc-Godard. And also, this film has reached a much wider audience than my previous films, so it gave me more recognition. It has been a rewarding journey,” said film director Amartya Bhattacharyya.

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The feature film narrates how people of a small village in India chance upon a DVD of Godard’s ‘Breathless’, mistaking it for French pornography. The experience of watching ‘Breathless’ then opens a Pandora’s box of ideas, ideology and profound thoughts for these people, merging socio-economic and cultural differences across the world. The film brings forth the powerful role of cinema as a creative medium that relieves menial drudgery and brings renewed hope. It is produced by Swastik Choudhury of Swastik Arthouse, in collaboration with FilmStop Entertainment and Les Films de la Haute-Vallée.

Bhattacharyya has made a departure from his usual abstract non-linear and complex films with this venture. Staying true to his art-house genre, the filmmaker has opted for a much simpler narrative style and linear structure, the script of which he wrote in one sitting. And he hopes that the film will be easily relatable to everyone once it is released to the public.

Bhattacharyya’s primary passion, interestingly, was not cinema but poetry and theatre. After turning one of his poems into a film and getting appreciated for that by some of the esteemed filmmakers of India, like Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Manmohan Mahapatra, he started thinking about cinema. The film ‘Translucence’ (Boba Mukhosh) was initially a poem about a person who has schizophrenia, the success of which ultimately inspired Bhattacharyya to focus more on filmmaking.

Highlighting another crucial point in his career, the filmmaker talks about receiving the Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus) from the President of India for the documentary film ‘Benaras – the Unexplored Attachments’ in 2016.

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“The National Award has been very important to me because that broke many perceptions. I was always serious and passionate about my art. I would not have persisted through all the hard work if had it been just a hobby. But after that award, people around me started taking my work as a filmmaker seriously,” Bhattacharyya said.

Born and brought up in Kolkata, Bhattacharyya’s parents are not from the creative field but in academia. However, from the early age of six, he started expressing his love for abstract art in paintings, which got inspired by his primary schoolteacher Siddharth Mukherjee, whom the now acclaimed director still remembers fondly.

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Talking about his day job as an IT professional and his passion for filmmaking, Bhattacharyya said: “I’m still an IT guy, and I believe I’m a good performer in my company also! My IT job allows me to stay an independent filmmaker and be true to what I want to make without any compromise.”

Bhattacharyya’s next project, ‘Whispers of a storm’, is based on the cyclone Fani, which wiped out the coastal villages of Odisha.

“It is a fiction film, about a real disaster, shot in a real location,” explains the Odisha-based artist.

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