Want to make films in all genres: Assamese actor-filmmaker Kenny Deori Basumatary
Leh: A filmmaker’s true test lies in evoking appropriate emotional response from the viewers with a genre film, says actor-director Kenny Deori Basumatary, known for his versatile filmography in Assamese cinema.
Basumatary, an independent cinematic voice from Assam, has made films such as action comedy series “Local Kung Fu”, “Local Utpaat”, crime thriller movie “Suspended Inspector Boro” and romantic comedy series “Tomar Opekhyat”.
Some day, the director said, he also hopes to make a superhero film.
“I want to make films in all genres. I’ve touched on crime thrillers, romantic comedies, and I’m looking forward to horror now. The great thing as a filmmaker is being able to succeed at what the genre is supposed to do. If I’m going to make a horror film and if I don’t have people jumping out of their seats, then I’ve failed.
“That’s my test as a filmmaker. Can I succeed at what the genre is supposed to do? My comedies are making people laugh, that’s a good thing. So, will the horror film scare them? Is the crime thriller’s revelation moment going to be a wow moment for people? That’s what I always look out for,” Basumatary told PTI in an interview on the sidelines of The Himalayan Film Festival (THFF) here.
“Local Utpaat”, the 2022 Kung Fu youth comedy film touches upon themes of corruption in the job market and education as well as organ trafficking, was screened at the ongoing gala on Sunday morning.
The predominantly crowdfunded film, which follows the story of the youth in Assam, is billed as the highest grossing Assamese film at Rs 1.4 crore in box office collections.
“I’m glad to be able to showcase my film in a completely new place. I’ve always wanted to come to Ladakh and being able to come here with my film and have people watch it and enjoy it, that’s the best feeling,” he said.
Basumatary has also written, edited, produced and acted in “Local Utpaat”. He plays the role of Robin, who develops a short-term memory loss, much like Aamir Khan’s character in “Ghajini”, after accidentally hurting his head.
The actor-director said the story of “Local Utpaat” came from several small incidents that happened with him or something that he heard about.
“The memory loss thing happened to a friend of a friend. He was doing a backflip and a kid passed from under him just at that moment. While he was trying to avoid the kid midair, he landed on his head.
“They took him home, let him have a bath and when he came out, he asked ‘How did I come here?’ This part I thought would work nicely in a film. I note down funny things that would work in films. That’s how I stitch things together,” he said.
What also made the audience members roar with laughter at the “Local Utpaat” screening were the many pop culture references sprinkled all over the film — from an Assamese version of “Tu hai meri kiran” from “Darr”, “Sholay”, “Lagaan”, “Kabir Singh” to Hollywood titles such as “Scarface”, “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Everest”.
Asked how he throws in these Easter eggs, Basumatary said it depends on where they fit.
Elaborating on the use of “Tu Hai Meri Kiran” in a dream sequence, the filmmaker said as a child the song from the Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla-starrer was one of his favourites.
“I’d bought that ‘Darr’ cassette twice or thrice. Now when I look back at it… My understanding of things has become more refined. ‘Tu haan kar, ya na kar, tu hai meri Kiran’. That sounds very wrong now.
“That’s the kind of messaging we boys grew up with. Thankfully, I’ve been able to unlearn most of those. But a lot of young men still grow up on this. They see a film’s hero forcefully kissing a girl on the street. They idolise that. So, that particular scene was my counter to that,” he added.
Basumatary was most recently seen in “Jawan”. He played Naazir Ahmad, one of the four Indian Army commandos who fought along with Shah Rukh’s Vikram Rathore.
After “Jawan”, his stock in his home state has also shot up, he quipped.
“I’ve given more interviews than Mr SRK himself, I think at this point. Everybody comes and they want to know how it was like working with him. They say congratulations. It definitely helps open doors. It’s like ‘ghar ki murgi daal barabar’ (undervalued at home). When you go outside and achieve something and come back home, the reception is a bit more,” he added.
Direction or acting, what does he like more? Basumatary said it depends on the situation.
“As a director, you’re responsible for everything. Even when the chai break is going on, I’m thinking about the next shot, which are the cuts I’m going to be taking. At that time, I thought it’s better to be an actor. You can chill sometimes at least.
“As an actor, you are in the vanity (van) doing nothing, waiting. It’s been 12-13 hours you haven’t been called yet. Then, you think direction is good, at least you are busy.”
Next up for him is “Local Kung Fu 3”, which goes on floors later this year. He also shot for a romantic drama about a single mother and the new man who walks into her life.
About his superhero film, Basumatary said he will revisit the script.
“If possible, (I would) make an Assamese version first and then maybe shop it around to the bigger production houses in Bombay. I’d like to keep the IP for myself.”