Rajaditya Banerjee – Interviewed by Anindita Bose
- How receptive do you think the audience of Bengal and India is towards poetry compared to other countries?
- Audiences in Bengal and India are very receptive, and it’s actually very difficult to compare among countries and say people of which country are more receptive or react more to poetry. My experience says that in India there is a unique place for Bengali poetry and people are more connected to the tradition of Bengal literature. The interesting thing is that young people in India try to write a poem when in schools or colleges they fall in love. When we start liking our classmates I think we begin to think about poems, and many write. Like cinema lovers, the poetry readers and poets evolve and therefore I can say that poetry plays a very significant part for Indians and especially I would vouch for Bengal.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and poetry movements you have been associated with.
- It is difficult to say something about myself. Where do I begin and where do I end? My father was a very famous poet in Bengal, my brother was an equally well-known filmmaker and poet, my mother was a poet – so I guess naturally poems began to visit me. I was born in a small town in Bengal near Santiniketan called Suri. I studied Political Science at Presidency College, and completed my Masters from the University of Calcutta. Then I went on to obtain a Diploma in Digital Filmmaking from the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School of Tallinn University in Estonia. I have spent almost two-and-a-half decades in one of the most beautiful and magnificent countries called Finland, which also happens to be the happiest land on this planet.
- Well, I have written poems, plays and short stories since my school days. I wasn’t part of any movements but I was fortunate that I could come across the stalwarts such as my dad – Mr. Debashish Bandyopadhyay, and the great Bengali poets – Bhaskar Chakraborty, Sunil Ganguly, and Shakti Chattopadhyay, and Joy Goswami. And as a matter of fact through their poems and words I got closely associated with their movements of the sixties, seventies and post the millennium. Since I was abroad, I was not very active in the poetry movements. But I am not a poet who believes that I must fight with poems, rather I think that the real beauty is to write poetry. One can say a lot through poems and even can revolt through the words. So this is my experience and I think my knowledge has helped me to become who I am today.
- How has Finland helped you in your work and vision?
- Well, Finland has definitely played an extremely important role in my life since I had shifted there in my twenties. I had started working in one of the largest corporations on this planet called Nokia. But in the midst of that busy corporate life I had continued practicing theatre, writing plays, poems and novels; and a time came when my inner voice called out to me and told me that nine-to-five jobs are not for me, so I did quit everything and started my own theatre group, started making films, went
to Estonia, and started performing in different countries in Europe and the United States of America.
- Unfortunately, soon I lost my father and brother – and then you know all the activities in Finland became an integral part of my life, I mean as if I was born for the stage and I hope I will die one day on the stage or on a film’s set. So Finland has made a huge contribution in my journey and one of the best things about Finland is that there is a platform and a space for each and everyone, especially those who are interested in telling stories. I always had so many things to tell and so many stories to share with the people, so I am glad that I found the platform I needed to express myself. So I cannot deny the pivotal role that Finland played in my life.
- How do you feel reading books, especially poetry books can be inculcated among the present generation?
- I think reading books cannot be inculcated among any generation, rather an atmosphere can be created by parents to grow an interest in the younger ones. I was fortunate that I was born in a family of poets and filmmakers. So naturally poetry became a part of me. But it completely depends on the individuals and it has been seen that even if poetry or books are not introduced to them many would start exploring those themselves and walk towards the direction. But of course what we can do is that we can read the good poems of many poets who are not yet recognised and can create a bridge between them and the readers or poetry lovers.
- Do you think poetic justice can address the various injustices of society?
- I cannot agree more that poetic justice can definitely address the various injustices of the society, because it can point out several things when an incident takes place and it clearly tells us that at the end injustice cannot sustain. Perhaps not always but it happens and it’s a great question.
- Well, I really believe that poetic justice does take place; I am not entirely sure whether poetic justice has the power to address all the injustices in the world but when it happens… it definitely works.
- Can cinema be an extension of poetic journey?
- Oh yes, Cinema is indeed an extension of poetic journey. And here I will talk about cinema poets – Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, and Krzysztof Kieślowski. People who are poets, often they are great filmmakers because they actually take their poetry onto celluloid and that is such a beautiful thing, I mean when the visions of poetry spread across the cinema frames then there is no boundaries between reading a poem and watching a poetic journey. In my personal opinion I appreciate poet-filmmakers, people who actually write poetry on celluloid, I mean they are very special to me and that’s why Andrei Tarkovsky remains my absolute favourite. I don’t know but many viewers have told me after watching my films that they find poetry in my films, it is definitely a huge compliment and I have not done that consciously, but I think since I write poetry perhaps my cinematic treatment becomes poetic. Yes I do agree that it is indeed an extension.