I am deconstructing Rabindranath Tagore in `Tasher Desh`: Qaushiq Mukherjee
New Delhi: Director Qaushiq Mukherjee, who loves to be known only as Q, is hoping to spark a debate through his interpretation of Rabindranath Tagore`s popular dance drama `Tasher Desh`.
It took almost a decade for the filmmaker to bring `Tasher Desh` on-screen, which he says is a mash-up of Tagore`s vision and his own fantasy about the idea of liberation.
"This is one Tagore story that has fascinated me since I was a child. `Tasher Desh` is completely different from his oeuvre. He experimented a lot with this play. In fact, critics find it flawed, so it became a children`s play but it is not a children`s play. It is very political. I think, we did not get it right contextually," Q told reporters in an interview.
Q is famous for his alternative take on filmmaking with controversial but festival favourite projects like `Love In India` and `Gandu`.
His documentary `Love In India` did win a national award but the director, whose films are high on erotic content, continues to fight with censorship in the country.
He is entering the realm of mainstream cinema through `Tasher Desh` for the first time and Q admits that it is an experiment for him.
The filmmaker is also aware that his interpretation of Tagore, who is a revered figure in India and especially in Bengal, will have many raised eyebrows but Q says he loves stirring up a debate.
"I am a Bengali and I know that we are very possessive about Tagore. We don`t celebrate him, we worship him. But I feel every great artist`s work should be deconstructed. Our culture does not allow this for various reasons, so I am prepared for the reaction and debate. The idea is to unsettle people and that`s why we are putting it out in the mainstream," Q said.
`Tasher Desh` has been produced by National Film Development Corporation Ltd, Overdose Joint, Anurag Kashyap Films Pvt Ltd, Dream Digital Inc and Belgium`s Entre Chien et Loup. The NFDC presentation got a select release today in Mumbai and Kolkata.
Tagore`s story revolves around a banished prince who
embarks on an adventure and arrives in a country of cards, where they are to be punished for not following rules. The prince ends up creating a revolution in women cards through love and music.
In his interpretation Q has introduced a storyteller lost in his story besides the prince and other characters.
"Liberation is our ultimate fantasy but it is not possible for so many reasons. The idea is very alluring as a filmmaker so I wanted to go there. It is a story of breaking rules, about change."
Heavily influenced by Japanese dance drama Kabuki, Q says he has reprocessed Tagore`s vision in a quirky way.
"The film is influenced by Kabuki. I am a huge fan of Japanese sub-culture, films, writers and Manga comics. I wish I was a Japanese."
Q has retained the songs that Tagore wrote but has experimented with the music by bringing together musicians from around the globe including names like Susheela Raman, Sam Mills, Eric Truffaz, Moog Conspiracy, Tanmoy Bose, Sahana Bajpai, Arijit Chakraborty and Seth Blumberg.
As someone who came to cinema from advertising, Q says he is well-versed with market forces but does not want his craft to be dependent on profit.
"There is no distribution network for independent cinema in our country. There is no medium where you can show your work without censorship and in a cost effective manner.
"In our case, we raise funds through the European model. In Europe, films are seen as part of the culture and the filmmakers have the benefit of government funds. They are not valued by box office. If everything is driven by market then why make a film, I would rather make a scooter," Q argues.
He credits documentary filmmakers for fighting to bring a change in the distribution set-up besides indie directors.
The director is currently working on cinema-documentary `Saree`, an untitled project and a horror film called `Ludo`.
He is also working with Bengali superstar Prosenjit.