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“A Godsend Like No Other”

Shirish Kunder on Samir Chanda

Samir Chanda and I met as recently as Wednesday(August 17) and we were to leave for Pune on August 19 to conduct a recce for the shoot of Joker. Naturally, news that our art director was no more, hit me like a ton of bricks. His demise has createda vacuum in our team. I will never forget how Chanda stood by me during my hour of crisis. Not many know that earlier there wasanother art director working on Joker.Just two weeks before shooting began, he abruptly made himself inaccessibleto me.

He was untraceable. There werebarely a few days left for the shoot tobegin and I did not have an art directoron board. Sensing my predicament,one of my assistants suggested that Icontact Chanda and I called him immediately. I also emailed him the script of my film.

He called me and said, “I can not do your film. I have worked on realistic films only. I have never created sets for fantasy ventures.” But I was hellbent. I flew to Kolkata to convince him and thankfully, he said yes. He took it up as a challenge. Believe me, what would have typically taken 40 days to create, was ready in12 days! He built the set of an entire village in Punjab at lightening speed.Samir Chanda assembled all his assistants, who had branched outas independentart directors,from all overthe country, tohelp him on myproject. Theset was readyon time and Ibegan shootingwithout anydelay. Chanda wasa godsend. Unlike other art directors,he used to paint the blueprints by hand and then construct the sets.

He was anace painter and enjoyed it thoroughly. Not many know that Chanda hadpenned a script and wanted to make his debut as a director. I hope someonetakes on this project and makes hisdream come true. Chanda was a gem. He was verysensitive and not practical about certain things. He thus ended up getting hurt very easily. Because of his sensitive and impractical nature, a number of people used to take him for a ride. People used to also take him for granted.

This made him very bitter and he would often say, “The film industry is not a place forsensitive people like me.”I used to often talk to him about hownot to let minor incidents of betrayal bother him. In fact, during my last meeting with him, we tried to sort out something that was bothering him. Once we were done with that, he was back being his zestful self. He even took a day off, postponing our Pune trip to Friday. He had said, “I am on top of the world. I want to make the most of it”. Little did I know these would be his last words!


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