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Buddha da’s unfulfilled homage to Malayalam cinema

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Express News Service

KOCHI: Renowned Bengali filmmaker and five-time national award winner for best films, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, who passed away on Thursday, has left without fulfilling his long-cherished dream of making a film in Malayalam. The legendary director, in interviews, had always mentioned Kerala as his second home. He had also discussed the idea of making a Malayalam film with politician-turned-screenwriter and producer Aryadan Shoukath.

“I met Buddha da, the incredible filmmaker, during the International Film Festival held at Delhi in 2002. He was there with his movie Mondo Meyer Upakhyan. I invited him for the screening of the movie Paadam Onnu, Oru Vilaapam which was produced by me. After watching the movie, he suggested Paadam Onnu to many foreign curators who attended the festival. It paved the way for the movie getting selected to many international festivals,” remembered Shoukath.

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He said, from thereon, a special brother-like bonding developed between them. “In 2012, I was lucky enough to discuss cinema with him for hours, during the Goa International Film Festival. His movie Mukti was screening at the festival. One day, after watching movies, Buddha da invited me for dinner along with our common friend Raj Narayan. After dinner, he told me of his desire to do a film in Malayalam,” Shoukath recalled.

However, he was astounded when the acclaimed director asked him to pen the script for a movie that he was planning. “I went through a mix of emotions — happiness, surprise and pride. From that day onwards, we started discussing the subject. Finally, we arrived at a thread which details the story of a mother in her twilight years, learning the alphabet and finally writing a letter to her son. Buddha da liked the story and before leaving Goa after the festival, he asked me to translate the thread into English and hand it over to him,” he said.

At the time Dasgupta had signed three films. Hence, he decided to launch the Malayalam movie by 2015. 
“Following my invite, Buddha da attended the Zonal Film Festival held at Nilambur in 2015 as the chief guest. The schedule and shooting dates were finalised. But you cannot control destiny. He was afflicted by a kidney ailment. Whenever I called him to inquire about his illness, Buddha da expressed his desire to start the shooting. He even said we can plan the shooting at a location in Kerala with a hospital nearby so that he can undergo dialysis three times a week,” recollected Shoukath.

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He consoled Dasgupta and told him that they can start the shooting once he recovers.“Now, with death conquering the director, I felt my hands shivering while lifting the bound script as it carries the weight of a master’s dream,” Shoukath said.

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