Writer-director, Biswajeet Bora made his Hindi debut last year with Aisa Yeh Jahaan, after assisting noted filmmaker Jahnu Barua for many years. Now back to his roots, Bora is all set with his upcoming Assamese film Bahniman. In a chat with Rohini Nag Madnani, the versatile filmmaker discusses some of his exciting plans
What prompted you to become a filmmaker?
Initially, I wanted to be an actor and, being from Assam, I started with theatre. I did a lot of work as an actor and also directed a few plays. Then I moved to Mumbai but couldn’t make a mark as an actor and hence took a course in editing. I soon joined an editing studio and started working as an editor.
Acclaimed filmmaker Jahnu Barua, who has won 14 National Awards, spotted me while I was working on his film at a studio in Mumbai. He offered me the chance to assist him as an associate director but I was a little sceptical as I was not sure of the career path I wanted to take. After giving it a lot of thought, I joined Barua sir as an AD and worked with him for seven years.
How was Bahniman conceived?
In 2007, I made an Assamese film titled A Thousand Fireflies Sparkle. The film garnered a lot of critical acclaim at many international film festivals. After that, I made a few documentaries, which too were appreciated. In 2015, I made my Hindi directorial debut with Aisa Yeh Jahaan. I gave everything I had to that film but was heartbroken when it failed to impress the critics and turned into a box-office debacle.
Two months after the release of Aisa Yeh Jahaan, something came over me and I wanted to make an out-an-out commercial Assamese film. That’s when I conceived Bahniman. I wrote the story of the film in three days and finished the screenplay with the dialogue in 16 days. The film is a masala entertainer.
Was it tough to get producers and distributors for the film?
The film is produced by Barnali Hazarika, a top Assamese film producer. I am glad to have a producer who understood my vision and wants to take the Assamese industry to the next level. As far as the distributor goes, I am lucky to have Aum Movies distributing my film. I wanted it to have a pan-India release and Aum Movies is one of the biggest players in our East region (Assam, Orissa and West Bengal). This is their first Assamese film as a distributor. They came on board after watching the rushes and first look of the film.
I was completely disheartened when Aisa Yeh Jahaan didn’t work as I had worked very hard on that film. I was involved with every aspect of the film, whether marketing or any other theatrical decision. Now I am much more confident, thanks to the distributors we have for this film. I am sure our film will give tough competition to the Hindi releases Kahaani 2and Dear Zindagi.
Making a film is about team work, where you work with technicians. How has the team of Bahnimanadded to your vision of the film?
Half my technical team is based out of Mumbai and is part of the Hindi film industry. My cinematographer Titu Jena has assisted Kiran Deohans on many big Hindi films like Agneepath, Jodhaa Akbar and Action Jackson. The film’s action directors are Kaushal-Moses, who have worked on many big-budget Hindi films as well. Even the editor of the film, Suresh Pai, has done a lot of big Bollywood films like Bheja Fry, Page 3, Jhankaar Beats and Aladin. I am blessed to have a team which has given 100 per cent to my film and made it technically supreme. They not only added to my vision but also made the film much bigger than I had intended it to be.
What challenges did you face considering yours is one of the very few big-budget Assamese films?
The film was made on a budget of nearly Rs 1 crore, a first in the Assamese industry. I am thankful to all my friends and well-wishers who worked in the film and did not charge a huge sum even though they have worked in so many big Hindi films. My target was to make the film in `80-90 lakh but we went in a little over that. Having said that, the film’s work in terms of pre-production, production and post-production which is underway right now, went on smoothly. I am confident that the film will do well.
What is the current state of Assamese cinema?
Assamese films are content-rich and every year, two or three films get National Awards. Assam has a population of cultured individuals and hence commercial films have never been tried on a large scale. Assam is the only state in India which has a hugely successful mobile cinema, which conducts commercial plays in different cities. I am sure the audience will come to cinemas to watch the film. I hope the audience will also like the change that we are trying to bring about in Assamese cinema.
What’s next for you?
I have two films in the pipeline, post-Bahniman. The first is a bilingual film in Bengali and Assamese, again a big-budget film. It will cater to the East Indian region of West Bengal, Orissa and Assam along with Bangladesh. I will start shooting in February next year. The second film will be a big-budget Hindi film that I want to start in November 2017. I want to show Bahniman to some of the studios and my friends in Mumbai as I am confident that the film will open many doors for me.