Nila Madhab Panda returns with The Jengaburu Curse, asks ‘dusre kyu nhi banate’ such films, shows
Director Nila Madhab Panda talks to HT about The Jengaburu Curse, said to be India’s first cli-fi series that stars Nasser and Faria Abdullah.
National Award winning filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda of I Am Kalam fame is back with yet another meaningful story. Titled The Jengaburu Curse, the show revolves around a mysterious mining activity in a village and delves into the terrible repercussions of mankind's never-ending need for nature. However, before anyone perceives it to be boring or an art show, Nila stresses on why this is what holds more significance than the usual fictional films and shows and can be entertaining at the same time. Also read: Changing Planet producer says coral reefs could stop reproducing in 5 years, 1 lakh species could go extinct each year
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Nila talks about making the 7-episode series that makes for a good suspense thriller. The Sony LIV show stars Nasser, Makrand Deshpande and Faria Abdullah. Excerpts from the interview:
So how real is the story of The Jengaburu Curse?
Well, it is real all around the world. It’s real in Africa, it’s real in Australia, it’s real in Karnataka. Everywhere it is real. Most of the factors I try to bring are real factors. Imagine a tiny village, how precious these legends are, how precious the tribal people are. The series shows how a tiny tribal village can take the London Stock Exchange. We're living in that reality because it is biting us today.
What I always say is that Bombay mein underworld ke liye 20 films banjati hai, political horse trading pe 50 films banjati hai but jo aapko dinraat pareshan kar raha hai, aapki tabiyat kharab kar raha hai, temperature rise hora hai, cyclone aara hai, aap kabhi uspe ek film nahi bana sakte (20 films can be made on underworld, 50 on political horse trading but why can’t you make a film on climate change which is bothering you so much, making you sick, leading to temperature rise and cyclones)? People tell me that only I make such films, I ask them, “Bhaiya dusre kyu nhi banate ye pujho (ask them why don’t they make such films).’’
It’s a popular belief that such films fall into the documentary category or art films.
But am I not doing business? I gave you a thriller which you loved, I didn’t bore you. I made Kadvi Hawa, I Am Kalam. When I made I Am Kalam, people thought I had made an art film. But wherever I have gone in these 14 years, in whichever part of the country, people talk about I Am Kalam.
What is commerce? It means the number of people watching a film. If you are talking about a politician, police or a villain in a film, you can find a villain in real life too. We have created a very matured audience now, it's no more a naive audience. Let's accept that fact. After watching Korean and Japanese shows on OTT, people like to watch something unique. In such a big film industry, you have never shown real tribals or parts of real Odisha. As a creator, I like to explore that world.
Have you shot in real places? You have worked with real tribals, how was that experience?
Everything is real. I have created a whole tribe dialect in this series. We people like to talk about Hollywood. When a language was created in Avatar, it became a big article. We created a tribal dialect, made a song and worked with them. I think it is something which is thrilling yet most close to people, most close to life. What happens with all the tribal communities in Odisha is they have mixed words. There are a lot of Odia dialogues as well. So I created a mixture of that because the tribals speak certain languages in a different way.
What challenges did you face while making the show, a big portion of which is set in a forest and a mining area?
I think the biggest challenge for me was to crack the story and to crack the screenplay after that. Interestingly, if you see the cast and crew and everything, I had a whole foreign crew, foreign cinematographer and people like that. We were living in a very small town for 60 days, where there were no hotel facilities and we were going deeper into the villages, into the forest and into the mine. It was very challenging. But when you have a challenging story, I think your crew also takes it to that level. They never get tired. That challenge became so sweet that when the shoot came to an end, people said why did it get over so soon.
How did you make tribal people act in front of the camera?
I had to sit with them, spend time with them, sing and dance with them. You just can’t direct them.
How was it to work with Nasser, Makarand Deshpande and others?
This is the most interesting part of filmmaking: when your artist loves your work and your story, half of the war is won. Their performances are beyond expectation, they put their soul into the story. Imagine Makarand Deshpande going into the jungle and saying Odia dialogues effortlessly.
There was no network. Do you have a specific memory from the show shoot?
That’s the best part that since there is no internet, you can focus on your work. (laughs) The last episode has the climax and the whole choreography was happening with the cast and the crew. It was not on paper. I can’t go to the floor without the final climax on paper but that was recreated on the floor.