Recently, Xhoixoboite Dhemalite (Rainbow Fields) by writer-director Bidyut Kotoky won the Best Foreign Film Award in the Hollywood International Cinefest 2017. The film stars Victor Banerjee, Dipannita Sharma, Nakul Vaid, Naved Aslam, Nipon Goswami and Nikumoni Barua amongst others. We talk to the filmmaker to know more about the film.
How did you come up with the idea of the story?
Xhoixobote Dhemalite (Rainbow Fields…) is a semi autobiographical film. It is based on the life of children growing up in the Assam of 80s, those violent times and how that violence affected their life. The story idea was with me for a while but the birth of my daughter propelled me to put it down in the form of a film. Time and again, I’m troubled by the question – what kind of a world will we leave behind for our children? Xhoixobote Dhemalite (Rainbow Fields…) is an attempt to address that. I am under no illusions that my films will change the world, but at least it will allow me look at the eyes of my daughter unflinchingly.
How is it working with Victor Banerjee, do you think actors like him bring something special and unique to a film?
This is my second film with him. It is always an honour to work with somebody of his calibre – the way he interprets his character in the film is a treat to watch. I would love to share an incident that took place during the making of my previous film ‘Ekhon Nedekha Nadir Xipare’ which starred Victor Banerjee. The dubbing of that film was divided between Mumbai and Guwahati. And he was more than happy to choose Guwahati over Mumbai for his dubbing. But none of us were prepared for the disaster that was waiting to happen in Guwahati on the last day of his dubbing. After a gruelling eight hour dubbing session, Mr Banerjee finished his Assamese dialogues and was relaxing, while the technicians of the studio was taking a transfer of his portion. Then I got the news that by mistake, instead of transferring the voice files, they deleted his entire dubbed track! Nobody had the heart to tell him, but being the director, the unpleasant job rested with me. I decided that under the circumstances, I have no option but to be honest and upfront about what had happened. After hearing me out, Victor sir took a deep breath and said, “Bidyut, I have always believed that in life, there is no point pondering about honest mistakes – let’s try to look for a solution.” That is Victor Banerjee for you. A great actor and an even better human being.
This was Dipannita’s debut in the Assamese film industry, what made you choose her for the role?
I always felt that behind the mask of supermodel, there is a simple Assamese girl hiding in Dipannita. That’s what I tried to bring out in this film, where she has acted without a trace of makeup. I’m pretty sure you will agree with my interpretation once you see the final result in the big screen.
Is it challenging to work with child actors? How do you communicate your ideas/vision to them?
That was the most challenging part. The idea was to not to make them act, but to make them react to a particular situation. I was greatly helped in this endeavour by my casting director Jyoti Narayan Nath and Tapan Barua, who held an extensive workshop for the kids and was with us throughout the shoot.
Which scenes were the most challenging or difficult to shoot?
A scene with the grandpa and the kids, which had to be shot in the night as it supposed to take place during the ‘blackout period’, which was very common during the Assam agitation. However, it was difficult for a different reason. The shoot carried on to well past midnight and the kids – especially the young girl who played the character of Kuwoli in the film, were really tired and sleepy. I had no option of continuing the shoot the next day as the exact lighting pattern involving a kerosene lamp would have been impossible to recreate. It broke my heart to force the kids to finish the shoot that night. Of course, I tried to pamper them (and lessen my guilt) by supplying chocolates and chips as per their demand.
And then there is another scene, involving a dog. In the middle of the shot, the dog saw another dog and decided to run after her. It was quite a task to run after him and get him back in the shot.
Do you think that you need a lot of money or funding to make a quality film?
Every film comes with its own budget, so I feel it is very important to select the subject of a film as per the finances available to us. For Xhoixobote Dhemalite (Rainbow Fields…), we are still struggling for the last bit of money to pay off the studios and technicians and take the film out. We are planning a crowd funding campaign for turning our dream of releasing the film in Assam during December.
As told to Meeta Borah