Published: 19th June 2019
Making Odia cinema matter: Why actor Swastik Choudhury is a man with a plan
His camaraderie with director Amartya Bhattacharyya is indeed a unique one and they together want to do a lot for Odia cinema. They have collaborated for more than three films now
Where would we all be without 'art cinema' which would go above and beyond the narratives pedaled by mainstream cinema? While we are quick to applaud directors who take the 'alternate' route, do the producers come to our mind at all? Not really. So here we are to appreciate one such producer and actor Swastik Choudhury, who, along with director-friend Amartya Bhattacharyya has given Odia cinema films like Capital I, Khyanikaa and now, Runanubandha. The duo took their latest film to Moscow International Film Festival in April. In the movie, which is about a daughter’s search for her father, Swastik plays the role of Bhola and has produced the film as well.
"In the recent times, Odisha hasn't made films which have made a mark outside India and my dream is to make this happen," says the 34-year-old actor and producer, adding, "Iconic filmmakers like Manmohan Mahapatra and Sushant Mishra have almost disappeared from the psyche of Odias," he rues. And right before this film was screened at the prestigious film festival, a jury member introduced it as a "fantastic film from India" and we are sure that the team made every Indian and Odia proud.
Moscow International Film Festival is certified by International Federation of Film Producers Associations, making it one of the very prestigious film festival
Under his banner Swastik Arthouse, the jodi of Swastik and Amartya have delivered three films and their friendship goes way back. "Exposure to Odia and Hindi film cinema was always there, but then I started watching European cinema and it was like experiencing a country through its cuisine," Swastik explains as he talks about his initial days. When Swastik and Amartya met, they hit it off immediately. "We spoke about cinema, literature, poetry, music. He was the source to many things I wasn't exposed to earlier," he says. So the duo worked out a plan, while Swastik would act, finance, get the necessary permissions and accesses, Amartya would edit and direct. "When there is no huge financial backup, you tend to get involved in the minutest details of movies, from costumes to set, and I've learnt so much from everything," says Swastik, who was born in Rourkela. Every day is unique for a producer, from making sure that perfect sunset shot is captured or driving 220 km to shoot a perfect scene, this producer has truly been involved in every aspect of his films. "The trick is not to bind yourself to a strict schedule and adapt to the circumstances around you," he suggests.
The day I have come across this man Amartya, I have been greatly drawn towards ideas and imaginations. He has so many things to offer. I may not be a wealthy or influential producer at this point in time, but nevertheless, I do wish to be a catalyst in bringing many unique concepts and imaginations to light that are now residing within him. Of course, I would love many others to collaborate on this journey. Until then I am willing to take my chances for I share similar views towards art, philosophy and poetry as him
Swastik Choudhury, Actor and producer | (Pic: Swastik Choudhury)
Talking about alternate cinema and mainstream cinema, though the lines have really begun to blur lately, Swastik says, "There should be only two categories of films, good or bad. There shouldn't be any other tags," he opines. And their very good and upcoming fourth film, is very special to both the actorproducer and director because it is their homage to the French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard. "It is a straight and structured narrative," says Swastik and stops himself from saying anything else.
Catch 'em all
Swastik lists down a few filmmakers whose work must not be missed
The way he captures the spirit of the former Soviet Union is like no other. "His sound design and character exploration are unbeatable," says Swastik
The Spanish filmmaker's work was often full of sarcasm and satire and his work is relevant even today
Swastik admires this Indian filmmaker because of his praiseworthy works like Chitrangada
Swastik even had the chance to meet this South Korean filmmaker who, "shows violence in the most soothing way."
At the venue: Swastik (extreme left) at MIFF | (Pic: Swastik Choudhury)
For more on him, click on swastikarthouse.wordpress.com