In Conversation with a Director

Suman Mukhopadhyay

Suman Mukhopadhyay

Recently Suman Mukhopadhyay was in town. He had come to New York to attend the screening of his latest film “Sesher Kabita” (The Last Poem) which is yet to release commercially. Mriitika of New Jersey (a non profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Indian culture and heritage in USA), led by Dhriti Bagchi, arranged for a screening of the film at the Marlboro Library. The show started at 5:45pm on a weekday afternoon (Monday to be precise), but the film managed to attract a full house. I went to the film with lot of apprehension.  Making a film from a classic text, and that too one written by Rabindranath Tagore, is no easy task.  “Sesher Kabita” is one of the most read novels of Tagore and each of us have created in us our own mental movie of this romantic text. And this movie often conflicts with the one projected on the screen. But for me, the film was a pleasant surprise. Suman managed to capture the romanticism in a beautifully orchestrated series or images and moments that keeps you glued to the seat just to enjoy the poetry being projected.

Later, during the Q&A, Suman informed us that the film was commissioned to him by the Government of India to commemorate Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th anniversary in 2011. He also answered several question on the film, most of which dealt with the artistic choices he had to make in order to make the film. Later that evening, I had  the opportunity to sit with him one on one and talk about his inspiration for creating art, be it theatre or a film. Listen to the recording of the conversation given below or download the podcast on your mobile device and listen at your leisure. I am sure, all film and theatre lovers will find his views quite inspiring.

Mahabharata : The Greatest Story Ever Told – Episode 1

Mahabharata - Vyasa and Ganesha

Mahabharata – Vyasa the story teller and Ganesha the scribe

I think I am not exaggerating when I say that the Mahabharata is the greatest story ever told.  The story of the Kuru dynasty has inspired and enlivened not only the Indians for generations, but the entire humanity. Writers, performers, story tellers, have over the ages,  told us the story several times in different forms. Still it remains ever fresh to us. However, the western world has largely ignored this great epic.  Except for Peter Brook’s theatrical attempt (which was later modified to a television miniseries), I am not aware of any other major attempt. The text of the Mahabharata has been translated to English by many writers, but still they failed to excite the western performers.

Recently, as a part of the EBC Radio Drama Club, I have embarked upon a project to retell the stories of the Mahabharata in my own humble way in English. I hope you, and especially our children, listen to these stories and like them.  If you like them, then join us on the radio (EBC Radio -1170AM in New Jersey, or, or on your smartphone EBC Radio app) or listen to the recordings here or on iTunes Podcast store (free) on channel. This episode (1) was recorded directly from the live broadcast.