When a teacher and journalist Parag tied the knot with the medical professional and businesswoman Dipika on June 29, 2000, the only thing common among them was their intense passion for watching films and filmmaking. They still enjoy watching films, which are closer to life and making films mostly based on subjects that turn out to be reality checks for their viewers. That’s the director duo of Parag Biswas and Dipika Biswas for you, the winner of over a hundred awards in top national and international festivals across the globe.
“Though it may sound strange, our love for movies was the one thing that brought us together,” recalls Dipika, who with Parag has set a unique example for a whole generation of film-makers to emulate.
“Come to think of husband-wife pairs in filmmaking, the Indian film industry has had a handful of them. Very few wives of successful filmmakers followed their husband’s footsteps and took up direction to prove their mettle. I am extremely lucky that Dipika didn’t just take a back seat when it came to wielding the megaphone and I always found her beside me during every happy or sad moment in my life and career as a filmmaker,” said Parag, who is now also an acclaimed anchor, TV presenter, commentator, quizmaster, voice-over artiste, expert-talker, educational trainer and motivational speaker.
Since the success of their Bengali maiden venture, “The Bench,” which won three international awards in 2013 and was telecast on top satellite TV channel, the Kolkata TV, the director duo have worked together in over fifty short films, documentaries, music videos and ad films. “Dipika has always stood by me. Over the years, she has helped me understand the nitty-gritty of filmmaking through her experiences. She has also perfectly brought to life my creative thoughts on screen for every project,” said Parag.
There are many reasons why the Parag Biswas-Dipika Biswas combination is slowly but surely becoming one of the most unassailable duos in both the short fiction and non-fiction genres. A major one is that the pair loves working on their own terms and conditions.
“If you watch us carefully on the sets, you should instantly realize that we both are perfectionists and don’t take shortcuts when it comes to directing. For us, whether it is an ad film of a top kitchen chimney brand or a short film on multiple identity disorder or a docu-feature for the central government’s ministry of defence on women trafficking, directing is a collective art and we prefer to concentrate on our work when we are on the floors,” says Parag.
The other reason, his better half believes, is the novelty in each of their projects that help them create their vision, rather than dealing with run-of-the-mill subjects using hackneyed methods.
“We thrive on newness. Right now, we have several scripts. We shall have to pick the most novel from among them and give it a unique treatment,” said Dipika.
The extremely novel, contemporary and relevant themes of human concern that have featured in the duo’s productions have contributed to an extraordinary career graph: 24 short films since 2012, and every single one of them has earned both critical and popular acclaim. The short and music movies made by Dipika and Parag explore the hopes and anxieties of modern society and in most of them, the director duo has shouldered three more duties - of writing, editing and producing, besides frequently performing cameos.
The two filmmakers, who began their journey from making TV commercials before directing and producing films for top festivals and prestigious satellite TV channels such as NDTV PRIME, Kolkata TV and Dhoom Music as well as for the biggest short film distributor in the world - the Pocket Films - said in their television days, they realized that writing and directing simultaneously was a huge plus for filmmaking.
“When we started making short films and music videos, it helped us to manipulate both the script and the direction deliberately to get into an organic mess. “We began by withholding parts of the script from the actors only to shout impromptu directions during the shoot. The idea behind not giving a complete narration to the actors was to achieve an organic performance,” said Parag.
As directors, Parag and Dipika said they are “greedy” about making something for every kind of audience.
“The Youtube, social media and OTT streaming platforms have now proved that full-length feature films solely are no longer Indian cinema. There are a large number of people around us who haven’t gone to a cinema hall in the last two years. They have a wide range of choices, easier access to content on Television, Youtube, OTT channels and social media platforms, and ample time because of the lockdown restrictions. These are definitely the key factors for the remarkable shift from the silver screen to the small screen and ample reasons for short fiction makers like us to come out of “traditional trappings of writing” to discover something new for different kinds of audiences,” they said.
The veteran filmmaking duo doesn’t like short films with adult contents, in which an overdose of the flesh is deliberately introduced to attract viewership. They are also determined that they will never make a film to earn commercial success.
“Our main objective is not to earn money but to generate awareness among the masses about various social issues. We firmly believe that cinema should educate and entertain, refresh and recreate. The films that we have made so far mostly deal with issues such as girl child, social ethics, eye donation, blood donation, lockdown, Covid-19, human trafficking, terrorism in schools, crime against woman, social stigma against mental disorders and the value of relationships, justice and book reading in our lives. We do also make thriller short films for entertainment and music movies on romantic lays but they also carry social and human messages and are not mere spectacular movies with over the top dance numbers, where heroes flaunt their eight pack abs and the actresses dance around trees in colourful costumes,” they said.
The immensely successful duo signed off saying that they would continue making good, thoughtful films with a social motive for people, who loved the art of cinema.
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