Agni-Taskar: Story of a traitor | An Interview With Agniv Sengupta
Agni-Taskar: Story of a traitor tells the story of one the greatest betrayal in modern history . The story adapted from Narayan Sanyal’s ‘BISWASGHATAK’,
Agniv Sengupta is a successful director and writer.
1.RSTMPA – Above of all, a big congratulation on your victory! How do you feel about winning the RSTMP Award on Comedy short category?
Agniv – Thank you. Our team is proud and excited to receive the award. Every recognition is valuable for us, and motivates us to create better films. Thanks to RSTMP juries for honouring us with this award.
2.RSTMPA – How did you come up with the idea to work on this specific book?
Agniv – Like most of the Bengalis, I read ‘Biswasghatak’ at a very young age. The details of Manhattan project, atomic espionage, the ploys behind it and finally the question – was Dr. Fuchs a hated traitor or a saviour – intrigued me deeply. When I started making films, the story was always in my mind because it is a goldmine of dramatic twists and turns with a deep message in it. Finally, in 2019, we got a chance to realise it.
3.RSTMPA – What were the biggest challenges you faced in making the movie?
Agniv – If I have to name one challenge, it was the budget of the film. We, as independent filmmakers, do not have a production house or financier to support us. It is our passion to make good films which drives our motivation. This film did not even had a budget of 100 euros. We had to rent the equipments, buy the props, arrange for our logistics mostly out of our own pocket. Thankfully, the basic equipments were already there with us, which reduced our expenditure a little.
Secondly, we produced the film during peak COVID time. Hence, there were multiple restrictions we had to follow, including the number of people in the set. So, we worked with lesser manpower than usual which resulted into extra effort from the individuals.
4.RSTMPA – Do you believe war brings us solution?
Agniv – That depends on how you define ‘war’. If you refer to the war of Gautam Buddha against the stagnant and gradually rotting religious beliefs, or that of Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King against untouchability and oppression – then, definitely, war brings a solution. But, if you refer ‘war’ as a tool to show power and aggression in exchange of human lives, then it must be condemned by all.
5.RSTMPA – What drove you to become a director?
Agniv – I like to tell stories. Hence, I am more at-home as a story and screenwriter than being a director. I have learnt a little about directorial techniques while making the films. To answer the question, being a director is more an interim role I play to represent my stories on screen.
6.RSTMPA – To this, what advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
Agniv – I myself am an aspiring filmmaker. Hence, it would more be a message to my peers – let’s work together to bring independent filmmaking at the highest podium!
7.RSTMPA – What is your favourite genre? What do you prefer versatility or specialization?
Agniv – I am a fan of thrillers. Mostly, dark-themed movies attract me a lot. While writing my scripts, I always try to end it with a cliff-hanger.
There are a talented few who can make equally good films with diverse themes and genres. I wish I was that talented, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Hence, I prefer sticking to the genres and themes which comes from me with ease. Any art form comes involuntarily, and if we tend to push it beyond the limit, the end product is not always up to the mark.
8.RSTMPA – Who or what was your source of inspiration for the film? How much time did it take right from writing the story to getting it on the floor to finally getting the film done? Is there anyone you would like to mention who has helped and supported you throughout the project?
Agniv – The primary inspiration is my inner urge to tell stories. Audio-visual format being the most effective way, I chose to make films out of them. I must mention the inspiration and motivation which came from my friends, well-wishers and audience from the very beginning.
The most time-consuming part for making this film was pre-production. We started writing the screenplay in September 2019, and took around a month to complete it. Then, storyboarding took another 15-20 days, and finally we started the primary production in December 2019. The post-production part took another month to complete.
I would take this opportunity to thank the passion and hard work each and everyone involved has shown. Filmmaking is not the primary occupation for any of us. So, all of us have put in their 200% in balancing their personal and professional duties while making this film. The actors, Ritwik and Tuhin, has spent hours rehearsing their part and came up with wonderful suggestions to make it better. Our cinematographers, Sudipta and Sourav, travelled 100 kilometres during each shoot along with their equipments. Milton, our music composer, bought expensive mixing softwares out of his own pocket to make it better. Souloke, our editor, along with defending is PhD thesis spent hours sitting behind the editing desk. Sonia, our graphic designer, created the posters for us beside her professional work. All of them did it without any expectation to get anything back, just for the love of filmmaking.
I would like to mention a small story over here. There is a flashback scene in the film, which we had to do outdoor. The temperature outside was below zero, and the shot was with our little actor, Ayush. We were a bit sceptical, as the shot has to be done without any warm clothes. When Ayush came to know about it, he said, “I play in school without jacket, so don’t worry, I can do this too!” It melted my heart to realise that this project has implanted the love of filmmaking in our future generations too.
It would be incomplete without thanking our partners – Somoy and Sunderban Asiatic Supermarket, without whom our journey would have been more challenging.
9.RSTMPA – Any legendary filmmaker whose work motivates you in a special way, or encourages you to do new ventures or writing scripts?
Agniv – I am a devote fan of Satyajit Ray. His style of using unanimated objects, metaphors, intense dialogues inspires me a lot. There are many other foreign filmmakers like Tarantino, Kurosawa, Scorsese and Indian filmmakers like Adur Gopalakrishnan, Ritwik Ghatak, Anurag Kashyap to name a few, whose filmmaking process I follow rigorously.
10.RSTMPA – What is your next project? Have you already started working on it?
Agniv – I got an invitation from International Theatre Festival to present a digital theatre. I am planning to do it in a semi-cinematic format, and now working on that.