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"There's nothing special about anyone in my film" - Sudipto Sen

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Courtesy: IndiaFM
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Just last night, his film The Last Monk was screened at the MAMI film festival running in Mumbai. The film has already made rounds of the Rotterdam Film Festival and a few more film festivals are all set to invite it soon. IndiaFM catches the director of The Last Monk, Sudipto Sen for an exclusive conversation on his film and his offbeat philosophies.

I got adsorbed in the environment of Ladakh
Though I shot the film just last year but I have been traveling to Ladakh since 5 to 6 years from now. I went to Ladakh almost 20 to 25 times and whenever I used to go there I used to find that the place is a journey to my origin. The colors are so pure, the rocks are so sharp and the kind of wind that flows into the entire valley, it's so pure that being in an urban life we can't find such elements of nature.

Slowly I got adsorbed in the environment of Ladakh. I tried to put certain characters through the journey to my origin and I tried to put certain characters through which I explored my journey of life and tried to see people around me in a new perspective. Like the relationship changes in time and space.

Mysticism of Buddhist philosophy changed me
As a catalyst... as a carrier of my thoughts, the mysticism of Buddhist philosophy intrigued me. I started reading a lot of new philosophies by Dalai Lama. This enriched my thought process and one day it evolved in script form.

Buddhism has a lot of influence on me
It is not Buddhism as religion that interests me. Buddhism has lot of influence on me but not as a religion. I found that it is the most scientifically evolved philosophy. It's the only religion in the world who believes in evolution theory unlike any other religion. We believe that god has created human being but Buddhism believes in evolution from one cellular existence. And I, being a student science, believe in evolution. Buddhism plays a lot of roles. It helped me to understand not only about the whole world and science but also human relationship that prevails in our society now. So it made me think from new angle, new perspective in the relationship structure that we see in our society

Last Monk is a Journey of a woman
It's a journey of a woman. A married woman travels Ladakh just after 15 days of her marriage. How she goes through the experience and slowly gets infused into that purity of nature and the reality of that place is what the story tries to say. She starts asking to her own beliefs. I experienced the same. And in her journey she meets a guy, who as a campo helps her out of mysteries of different perspectives of the world. In the process of that she psychologically evaluates her relationship with her husband with whom she married 15 days back. She reaches to a crescendo and she accumulates in her own existence. It explodes in vibrant sexual act and she discovers herself as a creator. We discover a woman as a creator of civilization.

Search of actors
I was looking for a fresh face. Rachana Shah has acted in one of my friend's film. I saw that film and I finally realized that she is possibly the main protagonists Sapna of my film. She has done a fabulous job. And the guy is a NSD graduate from Ladakh. He is the son of a Monk and belongs to the place I showed in the film. In fact people used to ask me if I have developed that character after looking him. And I had no other alternative but to choose him. He is from the national school of drama from Ladakh. Jimy Gandhi, who plays Rachana's husband, is a very well known face in ad world. An Italian actress Cibila Martin plays a character of Kimberlie in the movie. The process was long but not that difficult to find the characters. All are quite natural and common characters. There's nothing special about anyone. Interestingly the chemistry has worked well.

Breathtaking landscape
To capture the breathtaking landscape and the reality of Ladakh was the most difficult work for me and my cinematographer. But the film is not only about the beauty, it also deals with the certain thought, philosophies and certain elements of Ladakh. So it was quite difficult to find the midway and I didn't want it to look like a bunch of the picture postcard.

We discussed the films and all my crew including the cinematographer, sound engineer, music director and costume designer traveled to Ladakh several times to understand everyone's psyche. That is how we could do justice with the film and not just with the landscape. It was quite a difficult preposition. We did the right kind of blend of the visual excellence along with the performance. So it has come out as a film rather than a bunch of picture postcard.

Last Monk is unlike Indian films
The festival is always a great impetus for filmmakers and particularly this is my first independent film so I am really excited. But I am a bit skeptical because it is an Indian film in English and English language films have not received a good response in India yet. Its quite uncanny situation because it does not have the look of an Indian film, neither European, nor American film - we are somewhere in between so

Commercial value of the film
It's again a hazy domain to me. I don't think that this film will be commercially successful.

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