✍🏻By Special Correspondent
Anik Datta’s new film, Aparajito, is inspired by the making of Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, and actor Jeetu Kamal plays Aparajito Ray! Aparajito was the second film of the Apu trilogy. But this Aparajito is, of course, different. “Ray had very fresh ideas about how to make a film. He did not like the films that were being made in Bengal and India then. He wanted to make a film which would break new ground.
He was very passionate about films and music, Western classical music primarily. I am not just trying to give an account of how Pather Panchali was made. In my film a character called Aparajito Ray, aka Apu, makes a film called Pather Podaboli. What I am trying to convey is that if you truly believe that you have the ability to achieve your dreams you can make those dreams come true, in reality. Of course, you have to dare to dream. You have to be single-minded and dedicated. It is an inspirational film,” says Anik Datta, who has started the shoot of Aparajito.
“For the main role, I was looking at the ‘actors’ and I never expected to find a very close lookalike or doppelganger. During this time I was on the streets in a rally and I spotted this guy. I asked around and got to know that he is an actor. I asked a friend and he told me about him. When I saw him from slightly close quarters I realised this guy has features which can be close to the great man. By then we had more or less finalised someone else.
Then I forgot about it. Later some complications came up and we had to take a decision. We did his look test and when Jeetu came out of the make-up room everyone’s jaws dropped. No one could believe what they saw, he looked like the man (Ray). Somnath Kundu did wonders with a little bit of prosthetics. Everything fell into place and we started shooting in no time. Jeetu was effortless before the camera. I had got a hint of this when we did the look test. I had given him some old photographs and he did his own research and he assimilated everything very quickly. He was sharp in picking up things,” says Datta.
The reactions have been very positive and encouraging. “We could not show the shooting stills but to gauge the reaction, I did show a few to some of my close friends. One memorable reaction was when a team member showed a photograph to his wife, and she was convinced it was the man himself. He told her to look closely and it took her a while to realise it wasn’t the original stills.
A child artiste who had worked closely with Ray freaked out after seeing the stills! This film is very special to all of us. I would like to thank Firdausul Hasan for the faith he had in me and in my decision which included that Jeetu could do this role; he gave his full support, he had to take some tough decisions, and he told me to go ahead. Getting the look right is half the job done and we have to work on the rest,” smiles Datta.