It’s a bold new world

It’s a bold new world

Fresh from his success of winning four National Awards, producer Joy Ganguly tells Harshikaa Udasi that there is more to the LGBT angle explored in 'Nagarkirtan' which won him accolades


Months after his Bengali film Nagarkirtan won four National Awards, producer Joy Ganguly knows that congratulations are still pouring in and he’s accepting them heartily. “It’s never too late for congratulations and celebrations! Yes, we are happy,” says Joy, adding that after initial apprehensions, it was the intricately woven script that convinced him about producing it. “The story and script is both Kaushik Ganguly’s. There were apprehensions in the beginning, but the script was written so beautifully that it did not seem odd or weird producing it.”

Nagarkirtan explores the relationship between Parimal, a rural Bengali boy, and Madhu, a flute player of the Kirtaniya community. Avoiding any moral position on the subject, the film delves wonderfully well into the traumas and taboos around the transgender/intersex/gender non-conforming communities. At last year’s National Awards, the film won, among others, awards for the Special Jury Award for Best Feature Film and the Best Actor Award for Riddhi Sen, the actor who played the role of the rural boy, Parimal.

Universal theme

Joy is all praise for his writer-director Kaushik Ganguly. “No one else could have done it better. Perhaps Rituparno Ghosh if he were alive,” he says as an afterthought. Asked if the canvas could have been bigger and a sensitive topic about the LGBT community could have reached a larger audience had he taken the film nationally and made it or translated it into Hindi and other languages, Joy isn’t very upbeat. He although agrees that the subject is universal. “The sub-plots in the film are very Bengal-centric, for example, the reference to Mahaprabhu Chaitanya, who started the kirtaniya movement in Bengal. Also, some of the allusions in the script and the film makes it very Bengal and Bengali-centric as a subject. However, it is locally universal as anyone outside the community will also be able to relate to it. If we had done it in another language then the real essence of the film would be lost in translation.”

Though the film and its ensuing success are high on his mind, Joy has already launched his next ventures. The OTT (over-the-top content) space with its fast-booming audience beckons him. Joy has recently completed The Big Bong Connection for SonyLiv (Sony Pictures Networks) and is in talks for another project with them. “We have also just finalised a project with Viacom (Voot) called KanyaKumari. Then there is The Betelnut Killers with Shashank Ghosh which is in development. We are also in final talks with some international OTT players,” he adds.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the Indian OTT content market is set to reach $5 billion by 2023. “Our focus area has primarily been drama, mostly realistic subjects with immense entertainment potential. I’m not an art-house filmmaker so I would like to entertain the audience on subjects that I, as an audience, would also like to see and relate to. For online, we’re currently open to various genres, whatever excites me, and what I can sell.”

The Bong connection

Speaking about the current state of Bengali cinema, Joy says, “the Bengali film space is frankly not going through any sort of change.” Yet there are some filmmakers from Bengali cinema whose work he appreciates. “From Bengal, I admire directors Kaushik Ganguly and Indranil Roychowdhury’s work a lot. I also admire the work of SVF Entertainment. In Hindi, I like the work of Rajkumar Hirani, Shoojit Sircar, Anurag Kashyap, Farhan and Zoya Akhtar among directors.”