‘Sheer variety of thrillers keeps me going’

Famous filmmaker Srijit Mukherji also says he is a loyal fan of Feluda

‘Sheer variety of thrillers keeps me going’

In 2010, Srijit Mukherji’s debut film ‘Autograph’ was released during Durga Puja and became a massive hit, starring Prosenjit Chatterjee. This successful partnership between Srijit and Prosenjit has continued with hit films like ‘Baishe Srabon’, ‘Mishawr Rawhoshyo’, ‘Jaatishwar’ and ‘Gumnaami’. This Puja, they’re collaborating again on ‘Dawshom Awbotaar,’ a prequel to his previous hits, ‘Baishe Srabon’ and ‘Vinci Da’ (with Anirban Bhattacharya). Srijit also has an OTT release with ‘Durgo Rawhoshyo’ on Puja. ‘Millennium Post’ caught up with the director on films and more:

How do you manage your writing process, especially when you’re working on several projects at once?

I can write anywhere, anytime. Whether it’s on a flight, during a recce or in the middle of the night, I’ve written in various situations. I usually use my laptop, but when it’s not available, I’ll scribble my thoughts. My writing process is spontaneous and I don’t have a favourite spot. Ideas can come to me anywhere.

Is there any actor in Tollywood who hasn’t approached you for a thriller?

Not really. When it comes to collaborations, people often inquire whether it’s a thriller and if it’s slated for a Puja release. Regarding the release date, that’s usually decided by the producer. I love doing thrillers, but I also hate repeating myself. I also space out my thrillers.

How has the appetite for thrillers changed for you and the audience?

I think the key is the sheer variety of thrillers, which keeps me going. I have made whodunnit, howdunit, whydunnit and action thrillers like ‘Zulfiqar’. ‘Dawshom Awbotaar’ is more of a howdunit and whydunnit. In ‘X= Prem’, there was a dialogue that every story, even a love story, has elements of a thriller. I approach life and storytelling in that way, so a thriller structure is always there, sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle.

Your debut film in 2010, ‘Autograph,’ starring Prosenjit Chatterjee, was a game-changer for the Puja release tradition.

Durga Puja holds a special place in the hearts of Bengalis and the release of Bengali films during this festival has added to the social and cultural extravaganza. I consider myself lucky that I have become synonymous with the greatest festival of Bengalis and my films have become an integral part of the collective nostalgia linked to Puja.

Did the feedback you received after ‘Baishe Srabon’ and ‘Vinci Da’ influence your approach to making ‘Dawshom Awbotaar’?

I received even more feedback after ‘Dwitiyo Purush’. I realised that there were areas in the screenplay that could have been handled better. I agreed with these observations and tried to incorporate them into ‘Dawshom Awbotaar’.

Do you revisit your films and analyse them?

Absolutely. I find the weak points.

‘Dawshom Awbotaar’ is Bengal’s first cop universe. Are there any other cop characters you’d like to introduce into your cop universe?

I’d love to include Ranjit Mallick from ‘Shatru’ as a retired cop who would play a mentor to Probir (Prosenjit) and Poddar (Anirban). I’d also like to bring in Abhijit Pakrashi from ‘Baishe Srabon’. As for Animesh Datta from ‘Proloy’, I would have to ask Raj Chakraborty.

You said you wouldn’t make another Byomkesh Bakshi project after ‘Durgo Rawhoshyo’.

I hadn’t planned on making Byomkesh films, as I’m a loyal fan of Feluda. However, I agreed to make one, specifically ‘Durgo Rawhoshyo’, because I absolutely love the story.

Did you like Dev as Byomkesh?

I have yet to watch the film. I am planning to watch it on OTT.

What’s the status of your Indian version of Sherlock Holmes?

I’m the showrunner and I’ve created the series as well as directed four episodes. The final two episodes are slated for shooting in December and January. We are grappling with date conflicts involving Kay Kay Menon, Ranvir Shorey and my own schedule. If we can align the dates, we’ll shoot in November; otherwise, another director will take charge of the remaining episodes.

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