“Novelisation aids in character building” – Sam Bhattacharjee – Planet Bollywood
A couple of years back, Sam Bhattacharjee started his professional journey as a VFX supervisor. The foal, however, was to write and direct films. The British-Indian filmmaker took the first step in this direction by making Barun Rai and the House on the Cliff. The film, featuring Priyanshu Chatterji in the titular role, started streaming on Eros Now a while back. While one has heard about novels being turned into movies, here was a rare instance of a film being novelized.
Joe Hetherington has novelised your film Barun Rai and the House on the Cliff. Joe’s brother was writing the sequel to the film when he came up with the idea to write a novel based on the film. What kind of inputs did you give him when he worked on the process of novelizing the film?
The novel was always a plan but due to the pandemic, it became a late release. The requirement of the novel was essential in terms of giving Barun Rai a better dimension and getting it to move on to the next episode of the story.
Do you think novelizing a film is a good idea to explore the characters and some of the themes in the script on a broader level?
If you see the recent trend, it’s all about the characters. Barun Rai is a character that will take another ten years to fit into the mental ladder of the audience as we are not a Yash Raj Films or a Marvel Comics. Eventually, a character is the one which drives a concept. Once the character is established, even with an average script, you can motivate people to watch, read or consume the new episode of what you are doing. Novelisation aids in character building and references it for future generations to do research on the character.
While films being made on books is quite common, it’s quite rare to see things happening the other way around. Do you see it as a trend that will pick up in the near future?
It has been already a trend in Hollywood. The world is going back from smartphones to dumb phones so maybe reading will come to trend again. I do see children picking up reading as a habit and going back to traditional means.
You are a British Indian filmmaker who operates out of London and makes Hindi films. What are the challenges and advantages involved in this process? Do you have any plans to shift base to India?
My love for filmmaking allows me to work on whatever I am offered. The biggest challenge is to educate the crew every time they reach the United Kingdom to film but Bollywood is the biggest hub of filmmaking and due to attractive rates and ROI the producers find it very convincing to shoot in the UK. Also, actors do love filming here and a lot of them have made UK their second home. As of now I do not have any plans to shift but will like to explore films and ideas from India.
Priyanshu Chatterji was an interesting choice for the central character in the film. He has been a rather underrated actor and has done well in some of the films made in the recent past including Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Shikara. What made you cast him as Barun Rai?
Priyanshu is a brilliant actor but again the Indian subcontinent works on its own strategies. The world of Bollywood works on its own strategies and the market is dictated by what the producer thinks and not what the masses want. So maybe on a bright day, Priyanshu will shine like Rober Downing Jr and he will be a household name. It is only a matter of time.
Do you plan to make the next film in franchise soon?
I am sure there is a lot to come this year. We will keep you posted and Barun Rai will return for sure.
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