For 38-year-old Ratan Sil Sarma, one of the up and coming filmmaking talents from Assam, filmmaking was always never a second-option. This talented filmmaker's latest project -- the thriller called 'Pepper Chicken' -- is now earning rave reviews. Released on OTT platform Shemaroo Me, it is being hailed as an "unforgettable thriller" by critics and fans alike. Team Inside Northeast recently caught up with him. Here are some of the extracts from the interview:
You have made a name as an independent filmmaker. Earlier, you were in the media business. How did you make the transition? Was it a very sudden decision? Did you just wake up one day and say to yourself: "I want to be a filmmaker now"?
I had always loved film. However, it was hard to make a living out of filmmaking in Assam initially. Hence, I worked in media houses for a while as film and media are inter-connected in a way. Then 'Marksheet', my first film, happened. I have always felt that film is my first option in life. It was never a second option. I honestly think that I will become blank if films are taken away from my life.
Your latest venture 'Pepper Chicken' is earning rave reviews and has been unanimously declared as a "brilliant thriller". Can you tell us about the process of directing a thriller?
This film has been made in Guwahati and packaged for a national audience -- thus, everything is being done on a big scale. I am personally inspired by Hitchcock and the thriller is one of my favourite genres. I also have a special fondness for character-driven movies. What does one remember anbout 'Sholay'? The characters, of course. So, 'Pepper Chicken' was conceptualized from an idea with some memorable characters in mind and we developed the film on a shoestring budget. This film has an open-ended ending and is based on the Sita Haran in Ramayana. For a user to truly experience 'Pepper Chicken', he/she has to properly soak in the film.
What was the idea that led to the conceptualization of 'Pepper Chicken'?
Well, I was working in Chandigarh. One night, I happened to board a taxi and the driver was inebriated. I had some scary thoughts. I thought to myself -- I cannot jump out. From this idea, the rest of the story was fleshed out. Although I had jotted down the idea around 7 years back, it took a while to get the project going.
Due to COVID, there are challenges relation to promotions. How is the process of promoting a film entirely in the digital platforms?
Internet traffic is good right now. Even our viewers are internet-based viewers. Since the speed of internet connections is good these days, watching films via OTT platforms has become very convenient. Promoting films in this manner has also become easier and maximum people can be reached.
Working with a nationally-acclaimed cast in a high profile film -- how was the experience?
The cast was very professional. Dipannita Sharma is brilliant. She is talented and dedicated. She is a huge fan of thrillers and "said" yes" to the project immediately after hearing the synopsis. Balaram is comparable to Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He has a lot of shades to his acting.
At a time when Assamese cinema seemed be headed in the right direction with a string of big budget hits, the graph again slid downwards due to the COVID. What is Plan-B for the directors?
This is a bad phase. But a digital boom is right around the corned. In 2021-22, not only the silver screen, but the smaller screens will also have many options. Films and entertainment will come back in a big way. Even the theatres will bounce back.
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