Directors Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee, and superstars Prosenjit and Rituporna Sengupta, discuss with Team Box Office India their recent Bengali release Praktan, which also marks the comeback of the lead actors together after 14 years.
BOI: Let’s start with the directors… Your film is about a train journey. How did the idea of Praktanoccur to both of you?
Nandita Roy (NR): The story was conceived back in 2003. I am basically from Mumbai and have often travelled from Mumbai to Kolkata by train. Our holidays were mostly about going to Kolkata and train journeys have always fascinated me. So I always wanted to write a story based on a train journey and that’s how the idea struck me.
When I first wrote the story, I always wanted Prosenjit and Rituporna to feature in it but that was a long time ago. At that point, they had major differences between them and were not working with each other. But, in time, we finished Bela Seshe, and were thinking of starting another subject. We thought of revisiting some of our old stories. In fact, our film was initially titled ‘Journey’.
Shiboprosad Mukherjee (SM): At another point in time, we called it ‘Shohojatri’, which means ‘co-passengers’.
NR: We thought of attempting it once again and we also wanted to approach both the leading actors and hoped they would agree. And they did!
BOI: From ‘Journey’, to ‘Shohojatri’ to ‘Praktan’, which means ‘old’ or ‘something that has to do with the past’, the meaning of the title has changed quite a lot. Did the script also go through major changes?
SM: No, script-wise, we haven’t changed much. Primarily, the story tells you the journey of two women travelling together in the same compartment and it’s also about two women telling you the story of the same man. They are unfolding the layers and that’s why we initially called it ‘Shohojatri’ (co-passengers).
Prosenjit: Let me be very honest because you have asked the perfect question… we both were looking forward to doing a film together but we were also looking for a good subject. There were many offers from many directors but I think we both decided to finally do a film for Shiboprosad and Nandita di together. Shibo had been pursuing us with many subjects and we even locked one of them. Somehow, it didn’t work out at that time as it was a period film.
In between, he came up with other subjects but then they approached me with this one and my first question was: ‘This is a story of two women, where do I come in? I am a third party, so why should I do the film?’ I liked the idea but my part was unclear. I initially looked like a junior artiste in the film but when the final narration was given to me, it had a far meatier role for me. So the film is obviously a film about two women but it is also a Prosenjit movie. And it is very apt for Prosenjit and Rituporna, the moments are fabulous.