When Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury began shooting Pink, he had no idea that he would be triggering a movement – a mutiny of sorts against societal hypocrisy and censure of women – more so urban women who are otherwise deemed independent and educated! The new age director has already earned accolades in home turf Kolkata, directing award winning films like Anuranan (2006), Antaheen (2009) and Aparajita Tumi (2012). His sensitive films, hinging on unconventional relationships, found an instant connect with the urban audience. His Hindi debut, the thriller cum courtroom drama Pink, produced by friend and filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, too has smashed all records to become one of the grossers of the year. “You wake up, you read the newspaper, or go through your Twitter timeline… only to come across news that upsets you and makes you feel helpless,” he says. “I know this lovely lady who entertains a lot of guests at her house. People started insinuating that she was running a prostitution racket. When I’m not home, my wife Indrani’s friends visit her too. Is this moral policing right?” questions Tony da, as he’s affectionately called by colleagues in Bengal. It was this angst against societal double standards that gave birth to the idea of Pink. He reveals that Pink is a culmination of a lot of instances that left him angry. “In Guwahati, a woman was beaten up by a mob for going to a club. A video on Facebook showed a woman being harassed in Haryana and the complacent face of the man who harassed her. It was so humiliating. The only way to express this angst was through my work,” he says. “If I were a painter, I’d have expressed it through my paintings, as a musician I’d have expressed it through my songs like Bob Dylan did. As a filmmaker I made Pink,” he says of the film that underlined the decree that when a woman says ‘no’ it means no! Aniruddha maintains his movies have always spoken about women empowerment even if in subtle undertones. “Be it Anuranan that won the National Film Award, Antaheen or Aparajita Tumi… a message emerges organically. But Pink was an entertaining social thriller,” he says. With Shoojit Sircar and Amitabh Bachchan on the set of Pink While Amitabh Bachchan as lawyer Deepak Sehgal was the biggest star in the movie, Aniruddha also cast new faces like Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tairang and Angad Bedi. “Shoojit suggested Mr Bachchan’s name. The character of an old lawyer, who has given up practise and returns only for this particular case, was apt for him. When Mr. Bachchan said yes, we were euphoric. It felt surreal. The way he moulded himself to play the character was incredible,” he shares. “Mr Bachchan is a legend. On the first day of shoot, I was nervous. I’m a fanboy after all. But he made things so comfortable given his humility. It was a family kind of atmosphere on the set,” he says. “We wanted one of the girls to be from the North-East. When I saw Andrea I immediately knew she was the girl. When you close your eyes and visualise your characters and story, you see images. She fit that image exactly,” he says. “Taapsee and Kriti have freshness… hence they look real and convincing. Later, Angad Bedi was chosen as the arrogant Rajvir Singh. I told Angad you look so good, can you fit the part? So the next day he came with a certain attitude,” he smiles. He appreciates the helplessness and the grit, which the girls managed to translate so beautifully on screen. “Taapsee, Kriti and Andrea were brilliant. They were so spontaneous,” he says adding, “I’m not a sentimental person but after watching certain scenes, I used to just sit in front of the monitor and cry.” And that also explains why he chose Pink as the title of his film. “Because pink is the colour of strength,” he asserts. Pink was a complex subject for a debut director. “Playing safe doesn’t give you creative satisfaction. If you believe in something, you should attempt it. Anuranan was romantic but it was complicated too – a married woman goes to a hill station with another man. People may not find this right. But for me she is not wrong. If that’s what the woman wants, so be it,” he says of his penchant for choosing the path less travelled. He enjoyed his stint in the Hindi film industry and appreciates the work ethic here. “There’s a strong sense of ‘ownership’ here. The cast and the crew ‘own’ the film. It’s ‘our’ film they believe. I loved that attitude,” he reveals. “Director Akira Kurosawa once said that film is a collaborative art form. That helps because there are separate departments to take care of things,” he says. An ex ad-filmmaker, Aniruddha confides he wanted to be in the movie world since he was nine. “I wouldn’t study, only think about movies. I used to watch all kind of movies… even adult cinema," he shares. Since he was in class 10, he got hooked to European movies. "I belonged to a middle-class family and didn’t have money to watch these. So I’d somehow try and get an entry into film festivals. By 20, I began doing theatre. Finally, I realised I wanted to make films,” he smiles. With Taapsee Pannu on the set of Pink
Initially, he worked in a couple of telefilms for Doordarshan and earned 1500 rupees as salary. In 1995, his wife Indrani Mukerjee and he founded Screenplay Films and he made his first film Anuranan. “I asked my wife, ‘Shall we buy a camera or a house?’ We bought a camera instead to shoot our movie,” he smiles. Anuranan created waves by being the first Bengali film to be shot in London. Starring Rahul Bose, Rituparna Sengupta, Raima Sen and Rajat Kapoor, Anuranan was sleek, contemporary and urban. “The journey has been tough but when you make your own film, it’s a different sort of high,” he says adding, “It has been a learning process. The more you know, the more you grow. I don’t want to turn stagnant,” he states.
A big fan of filmmakers Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, Aniruddha’s been heavily influenced by them. “When I lose hope, I watch Ray’s Mahanagar (1963). When I want to know more about life, I watch Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960). The other day I was watching Ray’s Jana Aranya (1976) and it answered some tough questions. These movies are an inspiration. Art helps you grow and heal,” he says.Original Article