Goutam Ghose has returned to film-making after a year’s hiatus following the tremendous success of Moner Manush, critically, commercially and politically. Politically because it brought back the harmony between India and Bangladesh by ensuring the simultaneous premier of the film in the two countries. He is currently shooting Shunyo Awnko, his new film with Soumitra Chatterjee, old-timer Lolita Chatterjee, Priyanshu Chatterjee, and Konkona Sen. A new actress will play an important role as Priyanshu’s wife.
“I was returning from Rome while for my proposed Hindi-English film called Lala. On my flight back home, I was reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea. When I came to the last sentence of the classic on the last page, it worked like a trigger. The line is “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” This formed the basis of my story for Shunyo Awnko. I came back and worked out a script in a hurry – within a brief span of three months and the film was born,” says Ghose recounting his inspiration for a very different kind of film.
The intriguing title Shunyo Awkno has been designed with a view to the narrative counting down from ten to zero and the climactic twist happens when the narrative reaches zero. Brand Value under the leadership of Goutam Kundu is producing the film. Kundu had also produced Moner Manush under the Rose Valley banner. The setting of the film is India drawing upon the concept that India is by no means a monolith. It is a country that lives within the same time through different time periods of time. “The story has a layered emotional texture touching on wit, humour, tension and the indefatigable spirit every Indian has in his/her core,” says Ghose.
Soumitra Chatterjee is portraying a retired scientist from the Bhabha Atomic Researcg Centre who belongs to an aristocratic Muslim family with Lolita Chatterjee playing his wife. Priyanshu is a top honcho in a MNC, married to a girl who was an air-hostess who gave up her career to opt for family life. Konkona Sen Sharma is a journalist who graduated from the Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai and works for an entertainment tabloid. She switches channels in favour of investigative reporting in tribal belts, human rights stories mainly.
The film, like all Goutam Ghose films, is being cinematographed by Ghose himself and he has also composed the music save for two songs composed by singer-composer-lyricist Anupam Roy. The film has been extensively shot in Manali with some indoor shooting in studios in Kolkata, etc. Nilanjana. Guatam’s wife, is designing the costumes. His daughter Anandi is assisting him in direction while son Ishaan is assisting him behind the camera in cinematography. It looks like a family affair for the Ghoshes now. The screenplay is a joint effort by Ghosh and the noted littérateur Samaresh Majumdar. Somnath Pakhre, chief assistant of Samir Chanda who passed away last year, is looking after the art direction.
“Today, we are living in an environment of sustained inner conflict, of ethnic violence, of a persistent anxiety for security and peace. The environment is damaged by this inner, domestic struggle which is strongly felt but is not clearly visible. The country seems to get split up into factions and divisions for many resons, none of them healthy for peaceful co-existence and harmonious living. I hope to bring this message across in Shunyo Awnko” sums up Ghosh.