Interview with Bauddhayan Mukherji: We put our heart and soul into projects, drive ourselves to deliver the best and at the same try to be profitable.

We speak with Bauddhayan Mukherji about his career, his (professional) relationship with his wife, his films, Indian cinema, and many more topics


By Sayandeep Bandyopadhyay

Bauddhayan Mukherji aka 'Buddy' (born 1 June 1973, in Kolkata, India) is one of India's leading advertisement film directors based in Mumbai. He is best known for his direction of Bell Bajao, a campaign against domestic violence and feature films like "Teenkahon" and "The Violin Player".

Bauddhayan’s early years was spent in Gouri Bari Lane in north Calcutta though he studied in South Point School in the south. Bauddhayan imbibed his creative instincts from his dad, who was instrumental in his son’s interest in sports particularly cricket, Bengali literature, Tagore, Rabindrasangeet, films. After finishing his tenth in 1990, Bauddhayan got admission to St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata where he studied till 1995 majoring in Economics. Post that he studied advertising at the Clarion College of Communication. Bauddhayan stays in Mumbai with his daughter Aarsha and wife Monalisa with whom he runs Little Lamb Films.

We speak with Bauddhayan Mukherji about his career, his (professional) relationship with his wife, his films, Indian cinema, and many more topics

Apart from being the director of your films, you are also the writer and the producer. How do you manage to balance the creative and the business sides? 

This question can lead to riots at home! Well, I am not the producer of my films.  My wife is. Monalisa Mukherji. Yes, we run Little Lamb Films together and in that sense you can call me the ‘producer’ but for both Teenkahon and The Violin Player we had earmarked different roles for each other. I was very happy donning the hat of a writer-director for the features. And Mona became the producer. But I would not be surprised if we switch roles in the near future. You see, for me filmmaking is not just about saying action and cut. It is bigger, broader and all encompassing. Hence writing and producing are equally important for me as directing. We follow the same rule when we produce television commercials. We put our heart and soul into projects, drive ourselves to deliver the best and at the same try to be profitable. This isn’t charity. We take our work and monies very seriously because each is dependent on the other!

What made you produce your films yourself? Is it because you have the chance to express your creative freedoms better? Did you have any problems producing the film, financial or otherwise?

When we had conceived Teenkahon in 2012, we had important questions to answer – where would the funds come from? And would the source of funds have a bearing on the content of the film? Mona came up with the answer and I still remember what she had said, “Good bad ugly, the film needs to be yours, the film needs to be ours”. I will eternally be grateful to her. She knew we had to produce it ourselves. Also, in retrospect I did not want to give myself an excuse of saying “I could have done it differently if there were no interferences.” We decided not to give us any of that. So, whatever you see is mine, is ours and we are responsible for the same. Brickbats or bouquets – we deserve every bit of it.

Problems… yes! Plenty. The features become a double whammy for us. Doing a feature means I have stopped making television commercials, which means I have stopped the inflow of funds, and to top it all I am doing a feature which means there’s only outflow. So, we do our planning in such a way that we do not take a long hiatus from advertising.


What is your advice to the independent filmmakers out there?

I do not think I am in a position to give advice. The only thought which I could share – which has been the guiding force in our endeavor – beg, borrow, steal, crowdfund… do the first film your way with your own money. Make a good film and let the film do the talking.

Your second film "The Violin Player" has garnered rave reviews from the critics. Are you proud of its success? What inspired you to make this film?

Well, it does feel nice when people like your film, be it audience or critics. But that’s never been my reference point. I am answerable to myself the most. So, it is extremely important for me to like the stuff I am doing and more often than not, I do not like what I have done. From that perspective, The Violin Player is definitely an improvement over Teenkahon… I have liked it more and I feel I have evolved as a filmmaker. The journey has just begun!

People might find it hard to believe that The Violin Player is based on a true story. I know of someone in Mumbai who was approached at a train station with a proposal to play. It was intriguing and had all the elements of an engaging film. I have partly fictionalized the same story.

Can you give us an insight about the characters played by Ritwick Chakraborty and Adil Hussain?

Ritwick Chakraborty plays the title role. He is the violin player. Lives in Mumbai… life has beaten the art out of him. Has been reduced to a house husband, plays in below par Bollywood tracks as a session violinist. Basically, a failure in life. Adil Hussain on the other hand is the proverbial stranger – someone who would reveal nothing about himself. Hence, we do not know much about him in the film except the fact that he is a film director in need of a music track!


Ritwick Chakraborty is one of the most versatile actors who are working in the Bengali film industry today. He has given memorable performances in films like "Shabdo", "Asha Jaoar Majhe" and now in "The Violin Player". Could you tell us about your experiences of working with him? In general, what do you search for when you are casting? 

It was an incredible collaboration with Ritwick. Not every actor invests in time for a role. Not in India. But Ritwick’s an exception. Not only did he agree to do the film, he also gave time for workshops and said yes to rigorous training schedules. Without this commitment, he could have never become The Violin Player. What is fascinating about Ritwick is his spontaneity. He doesn’t belong to any school of acting. Instead, he reacts instinctively… feels the pain, the angst and stays within the arc of the character. I gave Ritwick his space and he gave me some good nights’ sleep!

Our casting process is actually more play than work. We read a script and tell ourselves who, dead or alive, would have been the best cast. He or she could be anyone… needn’t necessarily be an actor. That’s the brief I give. Armed with this, the team hunts down the cast.  
    
The film has separate endings, what made you do that?

Well, I would not call them two endings. The two are conjectures. Each follows its own emotions, beliefs and value systems. I was trying to create two worlds – one where art elevates the soul and the other where lesser mortals can’t wash away the dust of everyday life.

"The Violin Player" has quite a short running time, why is that?

I have never been guided by the ‘exhibition friendly’ running times of feature films. For me, stories should never be told that way. A film needs to arrive at its own length. This was an advice given to me by Mr. Mohsen Makhmalbaff when I met him at IFFI, Goa. That’s precisely what has happened to The Violin Player. It arrived at 72 minutes.

We can now see your film via Netflix. What is your view on the role the online video streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon prime will play in Indian film industry?

This, I think, is the lifeline which independent filmmakers were waiting for. Suddenly with the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime we have realized that we can truly be independent… not depend on exhibitors or distributors who might end up asking for their pound of flesh. I also feel Indian indie filmmakers would now take more risks and make edgier films. We couldn’t have asked for anything better!

We often see the most critically acclaimed movies in India not having equal commercial success. What is your take on that?

Commercial success is a different ball game altogether. If you mean a huge box office collection as a yardstick of commercial success, then it is indeed difficult for our kind of films to achieve that. We are in any case operating in a niche segment. We make urban films, for the ‘multiplex’ audience with content that is edgy and unsettling and cannot be looked upon as ‘entertainment’. In this scenario, we would possibly just have critical acclaim and would thank our stars if we recover the money spent on making the film. There are exceptions to this for sure, which only goes to prove the rule.

What kind of films do you like to watch and which are your favorite filmmakers?

All possible kinds. From Satyajit Ray to Rajkumar Hirani, from Tinto Brass to Fellini, from Kurosawa to Kaurismaki… I watch all kinds of films. Yes, some of them are my very favourites – Sam Peckinpah, Lars Von Trier, Roman Polanski, Rajen Tarafdar (a very underrated Bengali filmmaker), Sergio Leone, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shaji N Karun – I can live on them.

Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

As I said in the beginning, my wife and me would possibly switch roles soon. I am so looking forward to this. And as far as donning the hat of the director is concerned, I have a couple of things that I am working on right now but nothing concrete as yet. Will let you know as soon as I get to know!  馃槉

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Lee Sang-il,1,Rahul Jain,1,Railway Sleepers,1,Rainy Dog,1,Raja Mukhriz,1,Rajkumar Gupta,1,Randy Mckenzie,4,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead,1,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead 2,1,Ravine of Goodbye,1,Re:Born,1,Real,1,Realism,1,Red Beard,1,Red Persimmons,1,Reipu zonbi: Lust of the dead 3,1,Resistance at Tule Lake,1,Revenge: A love story,1,Review,6,Reviews,246,Reviews.,2,Reviews. Panos Kotzathanasis,1,Riri Riza,3,Ritwik Ghatak,2,River of Exploding Durians,2,Robin Weng,1,Roger Lee,1,Roman Porno,1,Ronja,1,Rouge,1,Running on Karma,1,Russia,1,RV: Resurrected Victims,1,Ryoo Seung-wan,1,Ryota Sakamaki,1,Ryuki,1,S. Korea,68,S.Korea,2,Saayak Santra,9,Sabrina Baracetti,1,Sabu,3,Salaam Bombay,1,Samui Song,1,San Diego Asian Film Festival,13,San Diego Film Festival,1,Sanjay Leela Bhansali,2,Sanjeewa Pushpakumara,2,Sankha Ray,28,Satan's Slaves,3,Satoru Hirohara,1,Satoshi Kon,3,Satyajit Ray,1,Say Yes,1,Sayandeep Bandyopadhyay,6,Scarlet Heart,1,Score,1,Seijun Suzuki,3,Sekigahara,1,Serga Mathang,1,Sexy S.W.A.T. Team,1,Sha Po Lang,1,Shakti Sounder Rajan,1,Shanjhey Kumar Perumal,1,Shanker Raman,1,Shaw Brothers,2,She Remembers He Forgets,2,She's the Boss,1,Shehjar,1,Shiboprosad Mukherjee,1,Shigeru Umebayashi,1,Shikhar Verma,11,Shikhar Verna,3,Shinji Somai,2,Shinji S么mai,1,Shinjuku Swan,1,shinjuku Swan II,1,Shinjuku Triad Society,1,Shinobi no Kuni,2,Shinsuke Ogawa,1,Shinsuke Sato,1,Shinya Tsukamoto,4,Shireen Seno,1,Shirley Abraham,1,Shock Wave,1,Sh么hei Imamura,1,Shoot for the Contents,1,Shorts,2,Shotaro Kobayashi,1,Shu Qi,1,Shunji Iwai,2,Shutter,1,Shyam Ramsay,1,Siddiq Ahamed,1,Sidharth Bharathan,1,Signature,1,Silver Spleen,2,Singapore,1,Singh Anand,1,Singing Chen,1,Sinophone,1,Sion Sono,10,Siti,1,Sixth Sense Hooker,1,Slavemen,1,Sleep Curse,1,Small Talk,2,Sogo Ishii,2,Solanin,1,Solitude,1,Solo,1,Someone To Talk To,1,Sompot Chidgasompongse,2,Song Hae-sung,1,Song Kang-ho,1,Song of the Week,22,Sopawan Boonnimitra,1,Sopon Sakdapisit,1,Soul,1,Soul Mate,1,SoulMate,2,South Korea,18,Sri Lanka,3,Srijit Mukherji,7,Stanley Kwan,1,Stanley Tong,1,Steel Rain,1,Stephen Chow,1,Stephen Fung,2,Steve James,1,Still the Water,1,Stoneman Murders,1,Story in Taipei,1,Strange Circus,1,Studio Ghibli,1,StudioCanal,4,Subenja Pongkorn,2,Suffering of Ninko,2,Sugihara Survivors: Jewish and Japanese,1,Suicide Club,1,Suman Mukhopadhay,1,Summer Snow,1,Sun-ho Cho,1,Sunao Katabuchi,3,Sunday Beauty Queen,1,Sung-hong Kim,1,Sunk Into the Womb,1,Susumu Hirasawa,1,Tadashi Nagayama,1,Tae Guk Gi,1,Tag,1,Taiwan,26,Takaaki Hashiguchi,1,Takahide Hori,1,Takahiro Miko,1,Takahisa Zeze,1,Takao Nakano,1,Takaomi Ogata,1,Takashi Miike,10,Take Care of My Cat,1,Takeo Kikuchi,2,Takeshi Kaneshiro,1,Takeshi Kitano,1,Takuro Nakamura,2,Talop Wangchuk,1,Tamil,2,Tamura Senichi,1,Tanit Jitnukul,1,Tanvir Ashraf,1,Tatara Samurai,1,Tatsuhi Omori,1,Tatsumi,1,Tatsumi Kumashiro,1,Teddy Soeriaatmadja,1,Teenkahon,1,Teppei Nakamura,1,Tetsuo the Iron Man,1,Tetsuya Mariko,1,Tetsuya Nakashima,1,Thailand,20,Thanatos Drunk,1,That's It,1,The Adventurers,2,The Apology,1,The Bad,1,The Boy and the Beast,3,The boy from Ipanema,1,The Brink,1,The Chase,1,The Cinema Travellers,1,The Crawler in the Attic,1,The Crazy Family,1,The Day After,1,The Detective,1,The Discloser,1,The Dollhouse,1,The elephant and the sea,2,The Executioner,1,The Eye's Dream,1,The Forsaken Land,1,The Fortress,1,The Gangster's Daughter,1,The Girl Who Never Knew War,1,The Golden Fortress,1,The Good,1,The Great Buddha+,1,The Great Passage,1,The Hole,1,The Inugami Family,1,The Iron Ministry,1,The Island That All Flow By,1,The Isthmus,1,The Kid from the Big Apple,1,The King of Pigs,1,The Last Executioner,1,The Last Painting,1,The Long Excuse,1,The Looming Storm,1,The Lowlife,1,The Magic Blade,1,The Man Without a Map,1,The Mayor,1,The Merciless,2,The Mermaid,1,The Muse,1,The Naked Island,1,The Net,1,The Night of the Earthquake,1,The Outlaws,1,The Prison,1,The Promise,1,The Raid,1,The Raid 2,1,The recipe,1,The Road Home,1,The Road to Mandalay,1,the Robber's Daughter,1,The Room,1,The Sacrament,1,The Salesman,1,The Sleep Curse,1,The Sower,2,The Story of the Disappearance of Maryam,1,The Strange Saga of Hiroshi the Freeloading Sex Machine,1,The Swindlers,1,The Table,1,The Third Murder,1,The Thousand Faces of Dunjia,1,The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale,1,The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue,1,The Tooth and the Nail,1,The Truth Beneath,1,The Villainess,3,The Violin Player,1,The Way We Are,1,The Weird,1,The Windmill Palm Grove,1,Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru,1,Third WIndow,1,This Is Not What I Expected,1,This Is Not What I Expected!,1,Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum,1,Three Sisters,1,Three Times,1,Tiffany Hsiung,1,Tik Tik Tik,1,T么kaid么 Yotsuya kaidan,1,Tokyo Ghoul,1,Tokyo Heaven,1,Tokyo Idols,1,Tokyo Vampire Hotel,1,Tolerance Film Festival,1,Tom Waller,2,Tony Leung,1,Tony Takitani,1,Torico,2,Toronto International Film Festival,1,Toshiaki Toyoda,2,Toshihisa Yokoshima,3,Toshimasha Kobayashi,1,Toshio Matsumoto,1,Toshiya Fujita,1,Town in a Lake,1,Traces of Sin,1,Trailers,75,Train to Busan,1,Tran Ham,1,Translated articles,1,Trapped,1,Travellers and Magicians,1,Trinh T. Minh-Ha,3,Triple Threat,1,Tsai Ming-liang,2,Tulsi Ramsay,1,Twilight Dinner,1,Twitch: You Are My Toy,1,Typhoon Club,1,Um Tae-hwa,1,Unbowed,1,V.I.P.,1,Vampire Cleanup Department,2,Vanishing Time A Boy Who Returned,1,Vannaphone Sitthirath,1,various,1,Varnyathil Aashanka,1,Verena Paravel,1,Vesoul International Film Festival,7,Vidya Balan,1,Vietnam,5,Vikramaditya Motwane,1,Vimukthi Jayasundara,1,Vinay Shukla,1,Vincent Kok,1,Violated Angels,1,Visitor Q,1,Vital,1,Vitaly Mansky,1,Vivien Qu,1,Voyage to Terengganu,1,Wai Ka-fai,1,Walk on Girl,1,Wang Bing,2,Wang Lung-wei,1,Wang Ming-tai,1,Warriors of the Dawn,2,Weeds on Fire,1,Wei-Hao Cheng,1,Wellgo USA,1,West North West,2,What A Wonderful Family 2,1,What Time Is It There?,1,Whispering Corridors,1,Whispering Star,1,White Sun,1,Who Killed Cock Robin,1,Whore Angel,1,Wilson Yip,1,Wiman Rizkidarajat,1,Wine War,1,With Prisoners,1,Without Memory,1,Wol-Ha: Very Bad Moon Rising,1,Woman of the Lake,1,Won Shin-Yeon,1,Wong Chun,3,Wong Jing,2,Wong Kar-wai,2,Woo Ming Jin,1,Xaisongkham Induangchanthy,1,Xu Bing,1,Ya-che Yang,1,Yamato (California),4,Yan Pak Wing,2,Yang Chao,2,Yang Ik-june,1,Yang Jong-hyeon,1,Yang Woo-seok,1,Yao Tian,1,Yeon Sang-ho,2,Yes Madam,1,Yeti Obhijaan,2,Yiu-wai Chu,1,Yoji Yamada,1,Yoo Ha,1,Yoon-chul chung,1,Yoonsuk Jung,1,Yosep Anggi Noen,1,Yoshihiro Hanno,1,Yoshihiro Nakamura,2,Yoshihiro Nishimura,3,Yoshimasa Jimbo,1,Yoshinari Nishikori,1,Yoshishige Yoshida,1,Yoshitaka Mori,1,Yoshiyuki Kishi,1,Yosuke Takeuchi,2,Yotsuya kaidan,1,You Losers!,1,Your Name,1,Youth,1,Yu Aoi,2,Yu Irie,1,Yu Sang-wook,1,Yuen Chor,1,Yuen Woo-ping,1,Yuji Shimomura,1,Y没ji Tajiri,2,Yujiro Harumoto,2,Yuki Tanada,1,Yukihiko Tsutsumi,2,Yusaku Matsumoto,2,Yutaka Ikejima,3,Yutaro Nakamura,1,Yuya Ishii,2,Zakka Films,2,Zhang Lu,1,Zhang Yimou,1,Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight,1,Zuri Rinpoche. Bhutan. Five Flavours,1,
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Asian Film Vault: Interview with Bauddhayan Mukherji: We put our heart and soul into projects, drive ourselves to deliver the best and at the same try to be profitable.
Interview with Bauddhayan Mukherji: We put our heart and soul into projects, drive ourselves to deliver the best and at the same try to be profitable.
We speak with Bauddhayan Mukherji about his career, his (professional) relationship with his wife, his films, Indian cinema, and many more topics
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Asian Film Vault
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