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. (T)

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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Johnson,1,Matthias Hoene,1,Maundy Thursday,1,Meghe Dhaka Tara,1,Memoir of a Murderer,1,Merantau,1,Mermaid,1,Miaoyan Zhang,1,Michael Haertlein,1,Michelle Hung Tsz-ching,2,Midi Z,1,Midnight Runners,1,Midori Impuls,4,Mikhail Red,4,Milk the Maid,1,Minamata: The Victims and Their World,1,Ming-Yeh Rawnsley,1,Minoru Kunizawa,1,Miss Zombie,1,Miwa Nishikawa,1,Mohammad Rasoulof,1,Mohammad-Reza Lotfi,1,Mon Mon Mon Monsters,1,Mong-Hong Chung,2,Mongolia,2,Monika S-r,1,Moon Lovers,1,Moon So-ri,1,Mototsugu Watanabe,4,Mouly Surya,3,Mountains May Depart,2,Mourning Forest,1,Movie,1,Moving,1,Mr Long,1,Mr. Socrates,1,Mrs Fang,1,Mrs K,2,Mumon: The Land of Stealth,1,My Beloved Yak,1,My Dad and Mr Ito,1,My Heart is that Eternal Rose,1,My Hero Chihiro,1,Myanmar,1,Mystics in Bali,1,Nah Hyeon,1,Namiya,1,Nanachan,1,Naoko Ogigami,3,Naomi Kawase,3,Naosuke Kurosawa,1,Naoyuki Tomomatsu,3,Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit,2,Neko Atsume House,1,Neomanila,2,Nepal,1,Neuch芒tel International Fantastic Film Festival,1,Never Ending Blue,1,New Neighbor,2,New World,1,New York Indian Film Festival,1,News,13,Nicholas Poly,4,Night Bus,1,Night is Short,1,Night is Short Walk on Girl,1,Night of the Felines,1,Nikola Cekic,1,Ninja Pussy Cat,1,Niwatsukino Norihiro,1,No. 1 Chung Ying Street,2,Noboru Iguchi,1,Noboru Tanaka,1,Nobuhiko Obayashi,2,Nobuhiro Yamashita,2,Nobuo Nakagawa,1,Nobuyuki Takeuchi,2,Noise,2,Non-fiction Diary,1,Norbu,1,Noriaki Tsuchimoto,1,Norman England,2,North Korea,1,Nurse Diary: Beast Afternoon,1,NYAFF,11,Nyamdavaa Baasansuren,1,NYIFF,1,Odd Obsession,1,Oh In-Chun,1,Old Boy,2,Old Stone,1,Old-School Kung-Fu Fest,3,Omar Rasya Joenoes,3,On The Line Festival,3,On the Run,1,One Cut of the Dead,1,One Man's China,1,Operation Red Sea,1,Ophilia,1,Ordinary Person,1,Orson McClellan Mochizuki,1,Osaka Asian Film Festival,9,Osamu Sato,1,Our Happy time,1,Our Time Will Come,1,Outrage Coda,1,Over the Fence,1,Oxide Pang,1,Pai Kau,2,Palatpol Mingpornpichit,2,Pale Flower,1,Panos,1,Panos Kotzathanasis,193,Park Chan-wook,2,Park Hee-joon,1,Park Hoon-Jung,3,Park In-je,1,Park Ki- hyung,1,Park Kwang-hyun,1,Parkpoom Wongpoom,1,Party Round the Globe,1,Passage of Life,1,Patrick Hofmeister,72,Patrick Tam,1,Pedro Morata,9,Peerachai Kerdsint,1,Pelden Dorji,1,Pema "Tintin" Tshering,1,Pema Tshering,1,Pen-Ek Ratanaruang,1,Peng Xiaolian,1,Pepe Diokno,1,Peque Gallaga,1,Perfect Blue,2,Peter Chan,1,Peter Chen,1,Phanumad Disattha,1,Philippines,11,Pieter - Jan Van Haecke,4,Pieter-Jan Van Haecke,7,Pink Eiga,15,PinkEiga.TV,6,pinku eiga,1,Poet on a Business Trip,1,Poolside Man,1,Press Release,2,Prophecy,1,Proshoon Rahmaan,2,Psychic,1,Pumpkin and Mayonnaise,1,Queen of Triads,1,Rabbit and Lizard,1,Radiance,1,Railway Sleepers,1,Rainy Dog,1,Raja Mukhriz,1,Randy Mckenzie,4,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead,1,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead 2,1,Ravine of Goodbye,1,Real,1,Realism,1,Red Persimmons,1,Rei Sakamoto,1,Reipu zonbi: Lust of the dead 3,1,Respeto,2,Revenge: A love story,1,Review,3,Reviews,187,Reviews.,2,Reviews. Panos Kotzathanasis,1,Riri Riza,2,Ritwik Ghatak,1,River of Exploding Durians,2,Robin Weng,1,Roger Lee,2,Ronja,1,Rouge,1,Rouven Linnarz,1,Running on Karma,1,Russia,1,RV: Resurrected Victims,1,Ryoo Seung-wan,2,Ryu Kaneda,1,Ryuki,1,Ryutaro Ninomiya,2,S. Korea,65,S.Korea,1,Saayak Santra,4,Sabrina Baracetti,1,Sabu,3,Sade Sato,1,San Diego Asian Film Festival,4,Sanjeewa Pushpakumara,2,Sankha Ray,7,Satan's Slaves,3,Satoru Hirohara,1,Satoshi Kon,3,Say Yes,1,Sayandeep Bandyopadhyay,5,Scarlet Heart,1,Score,1,Sea Fog,1,Seijun Suzuki,3,Sekigahara,1,Serga Mathang,1,Sexy S.W.A.T. Team,1,Sha Po Lang,1,Shake Rattle and Roll,1,Shanjhey Kumar Perumal,1,Shaw Brothers,2,She Remembers He Forgets,2,She's the Boss,1,Shift,2,Shigeru Umebayashi,1,Shikhar Verma,3,Shikhar Verna,3,Shim Sung-Bo,1,Shinichi Fukazawa,1,Shinichiro Ueda,1,Shinji Iwai,1,Shinji Somai,2,Shinji S么mai,1,Shinjuku Swan,1,Shinjuku Triad Society,1,Shinobi no Kuni,2,Shinsuke Ogawa,1,Shinsuke Sato,2,Shinya Tsukamoto,3,Shireen Seno,1,Sh么hei Imamura,1,Shoot for the Contents,1,Shorts,9,Shotaro Kobayashi,1,Shu Qi,1,Shuna Iijima,1,Shunji Iwai,1,Shutter,1,Siddiq Ahamed,1,Sidi Saleh,1,Signature,1,Silent Mist,1,Silver Spleen,2,Singapore,2,Singh Anand,1,Singing Chen,1,Sinophone,1,Sion Sono,6,Siti,1,Sixth Sense Hooker,1,Sleep Curse,1,Small Talk,1,Sogo Ishii,2,Soichi Umezawa,1,Solanin,1,Solitude,1,Solo,1,Sompot Chidgasompongse,2,Song Hae-sung,1,Song Kang-ho,1,Song of the Week,19,Sopawan Boonnimitra,1,Sopon Sakdapisit,1,Soul,1,Soul Mate,1,SoulMate,1,South Korea,20,Sri Lanka,3,Stanley Kwan,1,Steel Rain,1,Stephen Chow,1,Stephen Fung,2,Still the Water,1,Story in Taipei,1,Strange Circus,1,Studio Ghibli,1,StudioCanal,4,Subenja Pongkorn,2,Suffering of Ninko,1,Suicide Club,1,Sukita: The Shoot Must Go On,1,Summer Snow,1,Sun-ho Cho,1,Sunao Katabuchi,3,Sung-hong Kim,1,Sunk Into the Womb,1,Susumu Hirasawa,1,Sweating the Small Stuff,2,Sylvia Chang,1,Tadashi Nagayama,1,Tae Guk Gi,1,Tag,1,Taiwan,22,Takaaki Hashiguchi,1,Takahiro Miko,1,Takahisa Zeze,1,Takao Nakano,1,Takaomi Ogata,3,Takashi Miike,9,Take Care of My Cat,1,Takeshi Kaneshiro,1,Takeshi Kitano,1,Takuro Nakamura,2,Talop Wangchuk,1,Tatara Samurai,1,Tatsuhi Omori,1,Tatsumi,1,Tatsumi Kumashiro,1,Teddy Soeriaatmadja,1,Teppei Nakamura,1,Tetsuo the Iron Man,1,Tetsuya Mariko,1,Tetsuya Nakashima,1,Thailand,16,Thanatos Drunk,1,That's It,1,The Adventurers,2,The Bad,1,The Boy and the Beast,3,The boy from Ipanema,1,The Brink,1,The Chase,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 Forest Whispers,1,The Forsaken Land,1,The Fortress,1,The Good,1,The Great Passage,1,The Hole,1,The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles,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 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 Name,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 Seen and Unseen,1,The Shoot Must Go On,1,The Sleep Curse,1,The Snow King,1,The Sower,2,The Story of the Disappearance of Maryam,1,The Strange Saga of Hiroshi the Freeloading Sex Machine,1,The Suicide Chain,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 Vanished,1,The Villainess,1,The Violin Player,1,The Way We Are,1,The Weird,1,Third WIndow,1,This Is Not What I Expected,1,Three Sisters,1,Three Times,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,Toronto International Film Festival,1,Toshiaki Toyoda,2,Toshio Matsumoto,1,Toshiya Fujita,1,Toshiyuki Teruya,1,Traces of Sin,1,Trailers,77,Train to Busan,1,Tran Ham,1,Translated articles,1,Travellers and Magicians,1,Treb Monteras II,2,Trinh T. Minh-Ha,3,Triple Threat,1,True Fiction,1,Tsai Ming-liang,2,Twenty Two,1,Twilight Dinner,1,Twitch: You Are My Toy,1,Typhoon Club,1,Udine,3,Unbowed,1,Uncovered,1,V.I.P.,1,Vaishali Sinha,1,Vampire Clay,1,Vampire Cleanup Department,1,Vannaphone Sitthirath,1,various,2,Vesoul International Film Festival,4,Victor Vu,1,Vietnam,5,Vikram Zushi,1,Vimukthi Jayasundara,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,Walking Past the Future,1,Wang Bing,2,Wang Lung-wei,1,Wang Ming-tai,1,Warriors of the Dawn,2,We Make Antiques,1,Weeds on Fire,1,Wellgo USA,2,West North West,2,What a Man Wants,1,What Time Is It There?,1,Whispering Corridors,1,White Sun,1,Whore Angel,1,Wilson Yip,1,Wiman Rizkidarajat,1,Wine War,1,Without Memory,1,Wol-Ha: Very Bad Moon Rising,1,Woman of the Lake,1,Won Shin-Yeon,1,Wong Chun,1,Wong Jing,2,Wong Kar-wai,1,Woo Ming Jin,1,Wrath of Silence,1,Xaisongkham Induangchanthy,1,Xin Yukun,1,Ya-che Yang,1,Yamato (California),4,Yang Chao,2,Yang Ik-june,1,Yang Jong-hyeon,1,Yang Woo-seok,1,Yeon Sang-ho,2,Yes Madam,1,Yim Soon-rye,1,Yin Liang,1,Yiu-wai Chu,1,Yoo Ha,1,Yoon-chul chung,1,Yosep Anggi Noen,1,Yoshihiro Nakamura,2,Yoshihiro Nishimura,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,Yuen Chor,1,Yuen Woo-ping,1,Y没ji Tajiri,2,Yujiro Harumoto,1,Yuki Tanada,1,Yukihiko Tsutsumi,2,Yusaku Matsumoto,2,Yutaka Ikejima,3,Yuya Ishii,2,Zakka Films,2,Zen,1,Zhang Yimou,1,Zoo,1,Zuairijah Mou,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. (T)
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. (T)
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
http://www.asianfilmvault.com/2017/03/interview-with-bauddhayan-mukherji-we.html
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http://www.asianfilmvault.com/2017/03/interview-with-bauddhayan-mukherji-we.html
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