National Award-winning filmmaker Goutam Ghose, who just couldnt say "no" to Iranian director Majid Majidi for a small but significant role in the auteurs India-set project "Beyond the Clouds", says he had to "alienate and estrange" himself from the craft of filmmaking to focus on interpreting the character.
Having directed critically-acclaimed films such as "Paar", "Padma Nadir Majhi", "Patang" and "Shankhachil", the Kolkata-based Ghose considers acting offers only on special requests. Ghose has previously appeared in Buddhadeb Dasgupta's "Grihajuddha" and Srijit Mukherjee's movies "Baishe Srabon" and "Chotushkone".
Ghose had to grapple with a "contradiction" when he stepped in front of the camera and into an actor's shoes for Majidi, celebrated for films like the Oscar-nominated "Children of Heaven" and "Baran".
He couldn't help analyse the elements of a shoot as a filmmaker.
"When a request comes from a good filmmaker to another filmmaker, you just can't say no. Once I agree to act in somebody's film, the most difficult part for me is the internal tension. I direct films and whenever I go to the set I say, 'Oh! My God! I look at the light.' I look at the composition and other things. So, initially that was my contradiction, but I tried to control myself. This happens a lot," Ghose told IANS.
"The analytical part comes naturally to me. But then I have to remind myself that 'no, no it's not my job. I am here as an interpreter of a character'. You have to alienate yourself, estrange yourself and concentrate on your own character, your job and whatever the director wants. Who am I to interfere," he posed.
For Majidi's project, Ghose shot in Mumbai for two weeks and has two days more to go in April. He appreciated the fact that Majidi looked at all the crucial aspects during the shoot.
"It's quite an enriching experience, he (Majidi) is a very serious filmmaker and a perfectionist. I appreciate that, because in cinema everything happens inside a frame and inside the frame there are many elements... not only acting, its nature, the set, the light and he was concerned about all of these. So I really appreciated that. It's not only the performance of the actor but also the particular light, etc. He was quite a perfectionist," Ghose said.
Incidentally, Ghose appeared for a "look test" for Majidi and he fitted the bill.
"It's a costume test primarily. My look was somehow tallying with the character. When I find a face, I know this face can be transformed into the character. It kind of happens, it's an instinct of the director. From the first look you can understand how good this person can be in the character and I think it happened like that," he elaborated.
"I was doing a recce for my next film in Europe. I didn't have much time to prepare but I did some preparation. I lost a little weight and before the shoot began I didn't sleep much. I was reading books till midnight and putting an alarm at 4 am because (in that way) you get a haggard look. That did work," Ghose explained.
"I did my homework very seriously for other films. I insist that actors do intensive homework and do it very seriously. That is very important," he added.
Did he have any trouble with the language barrier?
"He (Majidi) was speaking in Persian and a little bit in English but I didn't feel that. It was as if he was speaking in my own language... the language of cinema. It is very, very important," said Ghose, who also acquiesced to Majidi's request for more than one take for some scenes.
The film also marks the debut of Shahid Kapoor's brother Ishaan Khatter.
"Beyond The Clouds" is being described by the makers as a story centred around a brother-sister relationship.
(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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