Sixty years after legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray made Apur Sansar, director Madhur Bhandarkar is now co-producing a Bengali film, Abhijatrik (The wanderlust of Apu), retracing Apu’s journey with his son.
The black and white movie will be directed by young filmmaker Subhrajit Mitra and presented by Bhandarkar.
“The story is based on the concluding part of Bibhuti Bhusan Bandyopadhyay’s 1932 novel Aparajito, which didn’t figure in the Apu trilogy. The movie will retrace the journey of Apu and his son, and take off from where Apur Sansar ended. It will be a tribute to the master filmmaker (Ray),” Mitra said.
The director said that in the movie, Apu will relive his childhood through the eyes of son, visiting Benaras and his village Nischindipur.
Bhandarkar, who was in the city recently for an event, said that he is “charged” to be part of a film that has a subject which he feels should be narrated to the world.
“When he (Mitra) narrated the story to me, I felt this is a subject this generation would definitely want to know. I got attached to the film as I feel that such talent (Mitra) and such a subject should be encouraged,” he said.
However, the maker of acclaimed movies such as Page 3, Fashion and Chandni Bar, clarified he wont interfere in the direction.
“I will not be present during the shooting. I will watch the shots after the entire work is done,” he said.
Dissociating the movie with Apu trilogy, Bhandarkar said,”Ray has created iconic movies which will remain in the history of world cinema for hundreds of years. Even if Mitra accomplishes 25 per cent of what Ray did, it will be a great achievement.”
Bhandarkar said that he is a great admirer of the legendary Bengali filmmaker trio.
“The cinema of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal da (Mrinal Sen) and Ritwik Ghatak had inspired me in my early days as a filmmaker. Ray sahab had not only influenced India but also put Indian cinema on the world map,” he said.
Praising Mitra for his research work for the film, Bhandarkar said, “When he brought this subject to me and wanted to shoot in black and white in the era of digital media and Netflix, I thought here comes a director who wants to make a film on a good story set in the 1940s.”
Speaking about recreating the 1940s era in 2019, Mitra said, “With the change in dialect and body language of the people, I had to do a lot of research to impart authenticity. We had to recreate everything to make it look like 1940s era, even the ghats of Benaras.”
On a question about comparison with Soumitra Chatterjee, who made film debut with his role of Apu in Apur Sansar in 1959, actor Arjun Chakraborty, who will essay Apu’s role in Abhijatrik said, “It is up to people to compare me with Soumitra kaku (uncle). My portrayal of Apu will not be inspired by his role. I will go by the brief of my director.”
The film, with Tanusree Shankar and young actress Ditipriya Roy in other roles, will go on floors soon.