Published: 09th December 2017
Guess who directed the only Odia film that was screened at International Film Festival of India
Bhubaneshwar-based Amartya Bhattacharyya is an independent filmmaker whose latest Odia film 'Khyanikaa — The Lost Idea' represents semi-surrealism at its best
Blessed are the ones to whom creativity comes as easily as breathing. Creative juices flow in their blood and all muses are at their beck and call. One such blessed soul is Amartya Bhattacharyya, the independent filmmaker whose latest Odia film Khyanikaa — The Lost Idea is doing the rounds at international film festivals and was the only Odia film in the Indian panorama at the 48th International Film Festival of India, held last month in Goa.
First glimpse: A still from Bhattacharyya's latest Khyanikaa — The Lost Idea
The movie personifies ‘idea’ as a woman, who two men lay claim over and at the end it is decided by ‘fate’, personified as a judge, to belong to no one, thus evading both men. But ideas never evade the Kolkata-born filmmaker, and his intuitive artistic sense is not restricted to the medium of direction alone. His art and creativity manifest through poetry, books, painting, acting and more. “There is a philosopher in each and every one of us. It’s true that my philosopher expresses himself through multiple mediums, but the core idea remains the same, my philosophical self is the same,” he says mystically.
He was even a theatre actor as a child, but after a point of time he did not find much creative satisfaction in it. So, he switched to directing, which he instantly fell in love with for the “complete control over your art that it allows,” he says.
And though he dabbled in poetry and writing (which he still does), “no one reads poetry nowadays and my books did not sell, so I thought to myself that it is better to stick to the audio-visual medium,” says the multi-faceted Bhattacharyya, who still makes sure he writes something — a poem, a story, a screenplay — every evening at his house in Bhubaneswar.
I never formally learned filmmaking, which is something that I think everyone is obsessed with.
Amartya Bhattacharyya, Bhubaneswar-based director
Bhattacharyya himself admits that this is not a realistic film, but a semi-surreal one and could even fall under the realm of magical realism, which is his forte, as he is a self-admitted believer of psychic automatism or surrealism. And when someone comes from such a school of thought, it automatically flows from within, which is in complete tandem with his intuitive artistic sense. “When you are doing realistic cinema, the reference points are from reality, but when it comes to surreal cinema, it needs to come from within you,” he explains.
As the mystic director works five days a week, he shot the film on weekends without a reflector, crane, trolley or any other industrial equipment. He only used his DSLR and a tripod, which had the advantage of blending into the environment as, “people don’t really pay attention to it nowadays and if they do, they think it is a home video,” he says.
Another glimpse: A woman is personified as 'idea' in Bhattacharyya
Speaking of independent films, Bhattacharyya agrees when we call it a lonely, disconnected genre, “very different from the nexus of the well-connected mainstream industry,” especially for him, as he does his own cinematography, editing, screenplay and more. But he doesn’t feel this is necessarily a bad situation to be in, as this seclusion infuses one with a certain desperation, “which if channelised into art can give optimum results.”
But it is in the genre of regional languages (mind you, not the regional mainstream industry which “manufactures film, while we make films,” says Bhattacharyya), that independent films will be the most popular, asserts the filmmaker.
And for them to thrive, support needs to come from many quarters including the government, though he does admit that while the governments of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and a few other states are doing their bit, others need to follow suit. Even international film festivals need to be more discerning in their choices, he says. “It makes no sense to glorify people who are already glorified, they must leave the space for the deserving and unheard of,” the artist explains.