Monthly Archives: September 2014

INTERVIEW REPORT (CELEBRITY SPEAK)

Interviewee : Riingo Banerjee, Film director
Interviewer : Sreetama Karmakar
Venue : Soundhouse Blues Studio
Time : 6:30pm
Date : 24th June

                                                    “I DON’T WANT TO BE LABELED AS THE PAGE 3 DIRECTOR”

1. Tell us something about your life before becoming Riingo, the film director.
Ans: I don’t think I had to struggle a lot because my background was never films. I did my schooling and college from Kolkata and then pursued MBA. Previously I was heading Grey Worldwide, an ad agency and was posted in Bangladesh for 8 years. So that is the time when I went to Bangkok, to edit an ad film which was made by our agency. There I got to know about the spectacular format called High Definition which was operated by the young boys and girls and was also not introduced in India. So I did a specialized course in cinematography there because by that time, I was already making my ad films. After coming back to Kolkata, I was approached by a satellite channel to make telefilms and that is the time I got introduced to Venkatesh and “Kranti” happened in 2006. It was basically hard work for me, not struggle. My experimental work being not repetitive, was getting noticed and it distinguished me from the others.

2. What about your telefilms, full length feature films and the videos?
Ans: Telefilms we have done about 55-60, over 600 ads and made about 145-150 videos which includes Junoon, bands from India, Babul Supriyo, Indian Ocean, Bickram Ghosh, Pete Locket, all the top bands of Bangladesh..so it was quite a lot of journey. We have done 12 feature films and the 12th one is undergoing post production as of now. Rey, Ghuri and Cottage are the full length feature films releasing this year.

3. How did you go about working with these projects, starting from their pre production?
Ans: See, the system is very simple. First, finding a producer, which is very important. This is the place where we get stuck. So I made a very judicial decision, what I promise, I’ll deliver. And if I’m promising something big, then I must make sure to give that big at a lower cost that he expects it to be. It is very important to know the pulse of the producer, which involves a lot of marketing yourself into it. The idea getting translated into a film, finally getting transferred on the big screen and the producer taking lot of pride and showing it to people, he must listen to the appreciation. Once this gets done, the whole thing becomes a easier. Then comes the subject, the entire process and how many people would be wanted. Never over sell your project. Be very transparent with money.

4. We have read earlier that in Bangladesh you had met with an accident and was almost about to lose your left leg. How did it happen?
Ans: It was in 2001. I was shooting a film on Murktijudhyo for a friend in Sonargaon, Bangladesh and it was raining quite heavily. We were in this jamidarbari, which fell down, not being able to resist the storm. Lot of people died that day. I was under the rumbles for 10 minutes, trapped and lost my left leg. It was broken into 16-18 pieces. But yes, I’m back on my feet, all metal and rod and its short in size as well.

5. What impact did the recording of a soliloquy from Rajesh Sharma’s play had in your life?
Ans: How do you know this? (laughs). Its interesting that you mentioned it. It was recorded in a studio of a friend and Rajesh himself is an old friend of mine. We were working on some projects together, so we had little spare time. Had asked my music director Soham Dasgupta to play some chords, he went into the studio, started playing and it was like magic that happened and once that happened, it just inspired me. It gave me that “wow”. It came out of nothing and there was no plan, I wasn’t sure about what was going to happen there. It was like going to the galaxy of the unknown and suddenly discovering a new planet and I think Rajesh was just brilliant, he blew me away.

6. The mass can never be homogeneous. Do you believe in making films for all the sections or you prefer to portray your ideas through your work, where mass plays a slightly different role?
Ans: No. I don’t think movies can be ever made like that. There are a lot of movies which you might like, but people may not and vice versa. So I don’t think proper to say you are going to make a movie for this slot or that slot, never happens that way. The deal is that, if you have got a good story to tell and a good team to back you up and with everything put together, I think it’s a winning situation then. You cannot predetermine who is going to watch your film but do a film where you can connect to the people, they can see a bit of themselves in the film. I don’t think anybody makes a bad film. It goes wrong only when the definition of vision gets diluted, chances are there you are going to go wrong. If you target an audience for a film, it is a wrong practice. I’ve done this myself years back with three films and it didn’t work because from day 1 I was confused. But in my last 2-5 films I’ve completely focused on storytelling and doing it right the way I want to do it.

7. You had a film ‘Neel Rajar Deshe’ which did not garner much footfall after the release however the critics were speaking a lot about it. What is your take on this?
Ans: I think there are times things go for a miss. Maybe the choice of theatres, the stroke of luck, I exactly don’t know. I think a movie’s success depends on lot of factors other than just being a good movie, it is never that. Lot of average movies run for months together. So one must be wondering, what is running them? I guess it is the wit, wisdom and the expertise of the person releasing the music and how to market the film because in today’s world where we are catering to Dish TV, HD channels, 200 normal standard definite channels, I think the audience have got a choice now. There comes the role of the producer r the distributor to circulate the movie correctly and to position it to the right halls.

8. Actresses like Paoli Dam, Swastika Mukherjee have taken new leaps in films like Hate Story and Take One. Nudity according to you is an art or a weapon to make the screens go houseful?
Ans: I don’t think they go houseful. (smiles). People can watch pornography at home. That is more nude than what people pay tickets to see that. One would rather watch a pornographic film. I think semi doesn’t work. If you ask me, I don’t think the so called nude films having bold approaches have really worked as a movie. It might have worked for the actresses, sometime, but they do not become eternal. What really stays back is a performer, like Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Kajol or Rupa Ganguly. They believe in acting deliveries. I don’t think that they had to go nude at all to make it big.

9. The general public are now blaming the item songs for the rapes that are happening. Do you believe that notion?
Ans: No. Rape is a disease. Item songs are not used to lure the audience to rape people. It is a way to make it look gloss and glitter. Rape is a virus which is a different ball game. It is nothing but the sickness of the mind that is luring people to do wrong things. Rape was always there. Previously it was just not considered to be a complaint.

10. What according to you is the sole reason behind Bollywood’s superiority over tollywood experimentations?
Ans: Two reasons are there. One, the budget. The packaging is very important. Because we are used to watching good theatres. Two, the stars which induce footfall which is very important. The stars here are handful. And South is a completely different industry, way out of our league.

11. You’re many a times tagged as a snobbish director. Did the veterans of this industry help you in your days of struggle?
Ans: Rituparno Ghosh did. He was a great mentor. He used to call me up after watching my movies. And I’m not snobbish. I’m actually very direct. I’m not very hypocritical and believe in speaking my mind out. I don’t want to be labeled as the page 3 director. You should only be photographed and remembered only when your work is worth writing about. If I fail to make pictures in the future, I’ll move to advertising because I know I’m good at it. Tomorrow if I don’t get films, I can become a cinematographer. I kept my options open.

12. What challenges are waiting for the budding filmmakers in the industry?
Ans: They over sell themselves. Visiting a producer 20 times is never going to help you make your film. you need to start small. Feet has to be firm on the ground and do your work well. It is the question of the merit. Nothing else matters. Be confident in what you are delivering, if you don’t know something, admit it.

13. Tell us something about your upcoming movie, “Ek Je Ache Shohor”.
Ans: This is a contemporary film which is a very new format of movie making in the recent times in Bengal. Kolkata is just not about Tagore, Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial. Its more about the by-lanes and the smaller roads which are insignificant to many but lives live there. It’s the thing that how an FM show can act as a boost or a metaphor to life. It tells us about the big scams that has put us into troubles. It tells us about the people of Mullickbazar who commit themselves to committing petty crimes for a living. I tried to show the reflection of the true Kolkata today. It is a city which breathes and bleeds and grows and glows. Anik Dutta, 2 pegs down, watched the unedited version of the film and claimed that he could have never made it.

14. Apart from filmmaking what else do you like?
Ans: I like driving. Though not many people know about this. I just put on my GPS and drive away, I don’t know where it takes me to.

15. Rapid Fire
Ans: a) Rituparno Ghosh – Dead
b) Chaitali Dasgupta – News
c) Swastika Mukherjee – Kranti
d) Koel Mullick – Sweet
e) Jishu Sengupta – Friend
f) Parno Mitra – Mainak Bhowmick
g) Paoli Dam – Vikram Bhatt

INTERVIEW REPORT (CORPORATE SPEAK)

Interviewee : Sameek Bhattacharya, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Air India
Interviewer : Sreetama Karmakar, Intern and Student Member, PRSI
Date: 16th July, 2014
Time: 12:00pm
Venue: Office of Indian Airlines

“WE WERE NEVER DEPENDANT ON THE GOVERNMENT FOR OUR SURVIVAL TILL 2007”

1. Tell us something about your entire journey and who was your driving force?
Ans: Driving force, it has to be self propelled. I started off with the Statesman, as a sub editor. I was there for a short while. Then I worked with The Telegraph as a journalist and editor for slightly more than 5 years. And I should add a point to it, The Telegraph is a very good launching pad, it prepares you 360 degrees. Then I decided to go to the other side of the table, from hardcore journalist to a corporate communicator. I thought I had left journalism, but journalism and journalist never left me.

2. What is your concept of Public relations?
Ans: I know I would be sounding cliché but it is a deliberate, planned and sustained exercise to establish or maintain a good relation with an organization and its publics, both internal and external, to protect and project the image of an organization. Though the definition of PR would be, “Good work. Well told”. And corporate communications is a specialized branch of public relations.

3. Can we put it like this that The Telegraph had an upper hand in your life?
Ans: Absolutely. I can always say so. Telegraph is a wonderful organization to create your foundation rock. The nuances of communication, the nuances of media, how news should be prepared and communicated. I learnt everything from Telegraph. I will always remain grateful to the exposure Telegraph has given to me, reporting, editorial, bringing out the pages, because I am bringing out my house journal, Magic Carpet and also my in-flight magazine. So this is all courtesy my experience in the Media Fraternity. Had I not been in the hardcore media, definitely I feel I would have been left handicapped.

4. Have you worked as an intern in any of the companies?
Ans: I did a very short stint with an ad agency called Concept Communications. I was always fascinated with copywriting.

5. What is the speciality of corporate communications in Air India, a central government undertaken company?
Ans: See, any transport industry is a 24×7 industry. And when you’re flying with 55000 passengers per day all over the world, and now after getting into the pact with star alliance, we are connecting 1398 destinations per day to 193 countries, so you can well imagine. But yes, when going gets tough, tough gets going. Being in a service sector where you are catering to a whole segment of passengers and potential passengers, you’re dealing with all sorts of publics.

6. Who are your major publics?
Ans: Our major publics would be the passengers, potential passengers, travel houses, travel agencies, tour operators, all the states of India..we fly to every nook and corner of the country and to 193 international destinations, through star alliance.

7. So we can say Star Alliance has been a milestone achievement for Air India?
Ans: Of course it is. Air India is the only airline from the subcontinent to have joined the Star Alliance. It is a group of 26 leading airlines all over the world previously it was 27 but now US Airways have left the Star Alliance and merged with continental and continental has already been into one world alliance.

8. How will you convert this achievement into business revenue?
Ans: Well the revenue is supposed to go up. And hopefully will cover up the expenses that had stroke us a few years back.

9. Airline companies are nowadays running under funds deficit. How does Air India manage this crisis garnering support from the Central Government?
Ans: No. we were never dependant on the Government for our survival till 2007. In the said year, the Government had ordained us to acquire 111 aircrafts and because of this humongous number that we were asked to purchase and we purchased, for the first time in 2008 we started getting some equity infusion from the Government. This was not a monetary support, because the quantum of our operation, we are basically 18 thousand crore turn over company, the equity of which was a mere 325 crore which was a horrible kind of mismatch. So now the government has started infusing equity funds so the debt equity ratio of our company has improved and we are doing commercially very well. We are enjoying a market share of about 21% now behind Indigo. And the government had laid down a turnaround strategy for us. We have got properties all over the world, being carriers since 1932. We are trying to monitise the assets which are idle.

10. We all know about the strikes and the appeals from the employees the appeals of Air India. We have also heard about the milestone achievements and the turnarounds, equity infusions of Government. Knowing it all, was it at all necessary to introduce 27 mid legged aircrafts to fly all across the country, occupying more space and demanding for more fuel consumption?
Ans: Ah well, this is against the policy of our company, so I would not be able to talk about the topic.

11. And the reason behind the crash of the Air India flight, Kanishka 182 and the missing of the Malaysian airline?
Ans: Since, I have no profound knowledge on the topic, it would not be wise enough from my end to talk about it.

12. Tell us something about Air India’s CSR activities.
Ans: Well our company is continuing with various CSR projects involving Environment, Education, Sports and is in the process of signing MoU with Tata Institute of Social Sciences for working on the project of CSR in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

INTERVIEW REPORT (MEDIA SPEAK)

Interviewee: Sutirtho Chakraborty, Chief Reporter,  Sambad Pratidin
Interviewer: Sreetama Karmakar, Intern and Student Member, PRSI
Date: 22nd July, 2014
Time: 4:30pm
Venue: Office of  Sambad Pratidin

“GET SOLD, TO SURVIVE”

1. How was your life before coming to hardcore journalism?
Ans: It just happened. Coming to journalism was something which was not pre planned. I did my Post Graduation in Economics from Calcutta University. Fortunately then through some source, I landed with a job in Protidin. After bagging the job, I stated liking the profession of journalism and that’s how it started and till now I’m with the house.

2. What is the editorial policy of “Sangbad Protidin”?
Ans: Talking about the editorial policy, I would say it’s a fair, independent and unbiased Bengali daily. But you know might say looking at the trends that if the newspaper has got inclination towards any particular political colour, then it’s like all the media houses are now leaning towards their political favouritism or somewhere which suffices the demands of their house. But this is again not something stationary. Time plays a vital role while chosing the colour to highlight. So our editorial policy is just the same like any other newspaper.

3. So you agree to the fact that partiality must be kept for the survival?
Ans: No. Partiality should never exist. This is because the media is considered to be the fourth estate in the democracy and if this democracy gets hampered in lieu of protecting partiality, we cannot ask for the other three estates, executive, legistature and the judiciary to remain free and impartial. And if news media inclines towards biasness, democracy gets endangered. The accountability gets killed. But in this cut throat media scenario, at times to safeguard its business interest, they have to undertaken the support of colour favouritism. This is the naked truth. Nobody is going to provide us with financial help in near future. The production cost does not acquired at the end of the day’s circulation. The loss is huge. We try to fill that deficit through advertisements. Even the owners are profit oriented from day 1. They do not run the business with their own money. We have to compromise to earn atleast some profits.

4. Can this concluded by the statement, “business comes prior to impartial information”?
Ans: No. News can never get more priority than business. Selling the information is a business. And this is quite natural looking at the present scenario. The amount of money with which the readers and the audience subscribe the mediums, none of of the houses can survive properly in the long run. The ground reality is, media has to play the role of a corporate house in order to stay in the competition, otherwise it would not be viable. Many news media houses have pulled down their shutters.

5. Again, the same question would arise. Business comes prior to impartial information. No matter how much distorted it gets.
Ans: This is happening and that’s the reality. Business at times get more priority.

6. Is there any way in which this mechanism can be changed?
Ans: There’s no alternative revenue model as of now.

7. Print media seeks for detailed analysis. The readers are always keen to know what’s next. Keeping these tensions aside, how does “Sangbad Protidin” move ahead?
Ans: We try and gather as much of information as possible, because post editing, many of the topics are considered unimportant. In electronic media there is the scope of aiding the stories with visuals. The story lines say what happened and the visuals say how it happened. So keeping this reality at the back of our mind, we prepare the stories. We cannot only provide the lead of the story. Our entire analysis needs to have the essence of the crux.

8. Looking at the statistics, can we safely conclude that in India print media is only a member for a few more years?
Ans: My personal opinion would be, yes. More than electronic media the bigger challenge according to me would be social media. In our college days, there were mobile phones. So to get all the information, we relied on newspapers. Then there was television. But now you can access to any information via your smart phones. Bandwidth has extensively reached the jungles of Sundarbans as well.

9. Since majority portion of the ad revenue is being curbed by the digital media, this also plays a vital role in the backwardness of print media.
Ans: That is the biggest reason. As long as the revenue model stays, the owner of the house will run the production of his company. Though I would say, not much of the revenue is poured into the vessel of digital media. Electronic media still stands out to be the winner, going by the revenue share. But how to build a proper revenue model for digital, is still under discussions.

10. Is there any way out through which the idea of reading newspapers can be inculcated among the mass all over again? What changes could be brought about in the format?
Ans: Now that’s a tough question. See, at the most we can think of making it different from the other dailies through certain means of action. It has become a regular querry for all of us. What do write and publish. We can only delve into some interdisciplinary approach, like convergence to digital. But there is definitely no specific way out.

11. If Sangbad Protidin at some point of time faces the same crisis situation?
Ans: For that reason we might take the shape of a digital format. Like ABP, New York Times. There digital presentation is remarkable. Print media, hardly 15-20 years maximum.

12. What is your opinion about the budget?
Ans: For the middle class people it indeed very good. There’s some relief in the tax payment. From 2 lakhs the margin has been increased to 2.5. Though it did not call for big reforms, there is a way, i.e. more privatization.

13. Community Radio has been allotted Rs. 100 crore in this year’s budget. Has the government taken any initiative towards print media or is ever likely to take so?
Ans: I don’t think so, because technologically print is going to be obsolete. So there would be no profit for the government if they invest money here. There’s no way in which print can be survived. You have to change along with technology.