Sanoj Mishra on 'The Diary of West Bengal': Infiltrator Story

Sanoj Mishra, director of films like 'Gandhigiri', 'Kashi to Kashmir' and 'Ghaznavi', is now coming up with 'The Diary of West Bengal'. Which talks about the illegal infiltration of Rohingya Muslims and Bengali extremists in West Bengal

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Sanoj Mishra on 'The Diary of West Bengal' Infiltrator Story
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Sanoj Mishra, director of films like 'Gandhigiri', 'Kashi to Kashmir' and 'Ghaznavi', is now coming up with 'The Diary of West Bengal'. Which talks about the illegal infiltration of Rohingya Muslims and Bengali extremists in West Bengal and the facilities being provided by the West Bengal government for their rehabilitation. Sanoj Mishra claims that he is telling the ground truth through his film.

The Diary of West Bengal

Here are excerpts from the conversation with director Sanoj Mishra.

How did you get into films?

-Radio was my only source of entertainment in my childhood. While listening to songs on the radio, I used to imagine the story behind the song, how the song was written, and where it was shot. At that time we rarely got to see the visuals of the songs. In those days, the visuals of the songs were sometimes seen on TV only in Chitrahar. Or sometimes we used to watch movies on TV. So through radio, a curiosity about cinema arose in my mind. As far as joining the cinema is concerned, when I grew up a little, I realized that we were being discriminated against in school. We are being charged more fees than other children. Gradually I realized that I was a victim of casteism. I was born in that caste, which people call the ‘upper caste’. Whereas I was from a very poor family. During my college days, there was no money to buy new pants. There was a lot of indecency happening to me. This kind of discrimination was hurting my tender heart. When I found out what was my fault, I found out that it was not my fault, it was the fault of my ancestors. Because of their mistake, we upper caste people are now having to face this punishment. What a strange thing it was. We were living in the same room where our cow was also living. I discussed all these things inside my house. After thinking a lot, I understood that the film industry is a place where there is no caste or religious discrimination. There will be no discrimination due to reservations in the film industry. I will get an opportunity to work on the strength of my talent in the film industry. If you have talent, you can work, there is no need for anyone's recommendation letter for no one can make or break you. So after thinking a lot, I decided to join films. Because I had understood that there would be no discrimination against me in the film industry.

How was the journey from the village to Mumbai?

-I came to Mumbai at the age of sixteen and seventeen. It was a long and difficult struggle. I did not have any distant relatives or friends in Mumbai. We used to talk to only one person on postcards. He had called me to Mumbai. He lived in Balkeshwar. When I reached him, I came to know that the poor guy had no place to live. He had run away two days ago. I asked the person with the given address to keep my bag for two days, which I had brought some food items from the village. But he did not keep that also. I used to travel in the local train every day carrying twenty kilos of luggage and have slept on the CST platform for almost three months. Even today, whenever I have to go to CST, my eyes fill with tears when I see the place where I used to sleep.

How did your struggle end?

-The truth is that I came here to become a singer. Because I had learned everything from the radio, I thought I could become a singer. I started struggling my way even though I didn't know how to become a singer. During the struggle, I met many musicians including Aadesh Srivastava. Seeing my stubbornness, one day he made me stand in front of the microphone to sing. I didn't even know how to sing. I didn't know anything. As soon as I stood in front of the microphone, my hands and legs started trembling. Then Adesh Srivastava ji explained to me that whatever work you want to do, first learn it. Today I would also like to tell my people that if you want to work, then learn it. Everything can be learned. I received music training from Padmashree Anup Jalota ji for one year. In one year I could learn only ‘S’. Then I thought that I could not get into the trap of singing. Then I asked people who is the biggest in the film industry. Some people said that there is a director. So one day, with some fear, I expressed my feelings to Padmashree Anup Jalota ji and sought his guidance to become a director. With the help of Anup Jalota, I worked as an assistant to the makeup man in the film 'Arjun Pandit' and saw many big actors including Sunny Deol in front of me. A new beginning started from here. Then I learned to clap. Then started working as an assistant director. Learned a lot. I saw the film editor working and understood a lot.

Where did you start as an independent director?

-My first film as a director was 'Tarana: The Black Story'. This was a suspense thriller film. I neither had good resources nor a good location. But we tried to tell a good story. This film is now available on social media, anyone can watch it.

How did your career progress after 'Tarana: The Black Story'?

-After 'Tarana: The Black Story', he made the very popular film 'Gandhigiri' with the late Om Puri and Sanjay Mishra. This film gave me a distinct identity in Bollywood and gave me the courage to make some good films. This film was doing good business, but suddenly due to demonetization, its business came to a standstill. Because of this, my growing career was eclipsed. This film also received many national and international awards. My real identity is because of this film. After 'Gandhigiri', I made 'Shashank', which was based on Sushant Singh Rajput. Then made the film ‘Ram Teri Janmabhoomi’. After this, I made the commercial film 'Lafangey Nawab'. After this, I made the film 'Ghaznavi' through my home production. I had made a very ambitious film 'Kashi to Kashmir', but the producers of this film probably took money from the Leftists and Congressmen, otherwise this film of mine was a bigger film than 'The Kashmir Files'. I can say this with certainty. This film was shown in many international film festivals including the Cannes Festival, it also received many awards. But the producers were greedy for money. He took the money and put the film on hold. But our caravan is not going to stop. Now we are coming up with “The Diary of West Bengal”, which will be released very soon.

How did the story of the film ‘The Diary of West Bengal’ come to your mind?

-Actually, I have lived a lot in Calcutta and West Bengal. I have also done a Bengali film as an assistant director. Whenever I go to any state, be it Kashmir or West Bengal, I try to know and understand the ground truth. The things in the society and politics of Kashmir and West Bengal are very different. When I made a film on Kashmir, the problem in Kashmir ended. So I thought that if I made a film on Bengal, all the wrong things from Bengal would end. With this thought in mind, I did a lot of research on Bengal. Stayed in the border area there for a long time. I can't tell you many things. I understood the structure of Bangladesh, saw and understood how people were brought from Myanmar and how they were spread across the country. What they do when they come to our country is the core issue of our film. This is not a small but a big and international issue. Because people who come to our country hungry and naked and when they start getting food, their attitude changes very rapidly. Then how they create destruction within our own country, is the story of our film.

What was your research work like?

-You may not have heard till now that a filmmaker has gone to another country illegally and done research work for his film and come back. You would not have found any filmmaker who has personally seen whatever he is showing in his films. I think there is a great need for filmmakers to do this kind of work in our country. We are those filmmakers who try to know the truth not based on social media but by going to the ground and doing research by taking sticks and bullets and then trying to reach to the people through our films. The experience one gets by swimming in a river makes for a different kind of cinema. The cinema that is made after reading on social media while sitting in a five-star hotel and eating pizza is different.

So this film is the story of infiltrators?

-This story is the story of West Bengal as well as the entire country. The kind of vote politics that takes place in Bengal, how people win elections again and again, what happens behind the elections, how votes are captured? All this is inside this film. Even if a thousand films are made to show the truth of Bengal, it will fall short. There is a lot of pain in Bengal. If I have shown even one percent of that pain, then I will understand that my effort has been successful. Because of the pain of the people in West Bengal, their suffering, their exploitation are very high. The work that was done against humanity in West Bengal did not happen even at the time of partition.


But looking at the subject matter of your film, do some people call it a propaganda film?

-I would like to tell such people that only such propaganda films should be made in this country. We tell the truth in our film, but you people call it propaganda. Those who call our film a propaganda film should be hit with shoes. You will call someone who speaks the truth a propagandist. If so, then I am the greatest director of propaganda films. Before ‘The Kashmir File’, I had made ‘Kashi to Kashmir’ on Kashmir. I made a film on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue and now I have made 'The Diary of West Bengal' on the Bengal issue. This is the truth of the country. This is not cheap publicity. You people want cheap publicity. You lick the soles of the leftists that is why you are calling our films propaganda because the truth is not sinking into you. The sooner you understand the truth, the better it will be for you. Truth is the voice of the people. The day the public gets angry, your film industry will also stop. The kind of films you make will also end. This is our clear message to those people who call films that tell the truth as propaganda films. Especially don't even call my film propaganda. I am giving this instruction to all of you.

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On what basis were the actors selected for the film 'The Diary of West Bengal'?

-You also know that no big actor will work in such truth-telling films. You know the affair of Bollywood. Here people ask what you are. Have you made 'Mughal-e-Azam'? So, I have not made Mughal-e-Azam. That's why big actors stayed away from associating with our film. People ask why Amitabh Bachchan is not in your film. So I don't have answers to such questions. Earlier I did not know that here only when I make a film with a star, I will be called a big director. That's why I decided to make subject-oriented cinema and I will keep making such cinema until these people shout and say, 'Enough, I am ready to work with you.' 'So 'The Diary of West Bengal' is a theme-based film. We have worked on the ground. After the police station has done everything, now my film is going to hit the theatres.

In our film, there are Aarshi Mehta in the role of heroine Suhasini Bhattacharya, Yajur Marwah in the role of hero Prateek, apart from the talented actors like Ramendra Chakraborty, Gauri Shankar, Awadh Ashwini, Ashish Kumar, and Reena Bhattacharya.

What do you mean by court?

-Two years ago, I first raised the issue of Sandeshkhali through my film. The Bengal government filed an FIR against me. Attempts were made to arrest me, kill me, and kill my entire family. I have faced a lot while making this film. But now the time has come that we answer all the questions through our film.

Where was the film shot and in how many days?

-The film was shot in 42 days in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

Tags: Infiltrator Story 

-Shantiswarup Tripathi

Read also:

#Gandhigiri #Sanoj Mishra #Infiltrator Story #The Diary of West Bengal
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