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অন্তর - view episode 5

অন্তর - view episode 5

Sibashis Chatterjee

Advocate, Art Director

Thank you very much for joining us on the fifth episode of অন্তর-view. It's a pleasure having you today with us.

Sibashis: Thank you.

So my first question is something I got in my mind while studying your earlier and professional days. In your college days, you study Economics Honours and then shifted to Law; was this shift planned?

Sibashis: Although I study Economics, I always knew I'll be going to study Law. What happens most in Law is arbitration; nowadays, the court is being expedited in all the cases right? So the cases are shifted in out of the court mitigations. These are called arbitration. So when you're going into arbitration, you're going for a corporate, or whose route is involved in any economic activities. So when you are consulting a case, you're giving a perspective of how the society works. This is based on two things mainly, one is the law and the other is economics. If you need to know Law, you need to have a good knowledge of Economics too. So after studying BSc in Economics, I went to Law instead of doing a five-year course.

You are a legal advisor to many notable YouTubers. So how do they get legal advice and what cases they face?

Sibashis: So whenever somebody is making a YouTube content, they can get involved in a defamation case or something. When you are making a video, you've to maintain certain parameters. Not only in terms of YouTube, but also in terms of society. If your content disturbs their sentiments or breaks any of the norms, then you get complaints from the parties that you've spoken or targetted in your content. YouTube is a platform where creators are very vulnerable to be exploited. Sometimes, they get harassed by the sponsors too, mainly in copyright, IPR issues. These happen not only on YouTube but also in the film industries. If any director or any producer faces any IPR issue, they approach me as a Legal Advisor of them. In all my cases to date, my clients are pretty happy to have me by their side.

Was this always your aim to be the go-to legal consultant for YouTubers and filmmakers?

Sibashis: No it happened suddenly. When I landed in Kolkata, I never knew I'll be getting all these clients. When I came here and got my friend circle, they were basically from this stream. Since my college days, I have had a great knowledge of IPR, so I saw that these people are very unaware of these issues. So, I got connected and started getting all these clients. And now, I get more clients from this platform rather than any corporate client. We can't advertise the law. People can come by seeing our capability of work and we can make our channel of clients by recommendations from them. So this is how things work.

Among all the cases you have been involved directly, how many of them created a lot of conflicts?

Sibashis: No, I never have to. I make a strong contract when they are going for a certain contract with anybody. So the contract is always strong enough. "Prevention is better than cure", so I always make a contract which is good enough for my client.

In the lockdown days, apart from handling all the cases, how did you spend your time?

Sibashis: You know, Art Direction is my passion. I've been involved in acting too. I study about the color, the light since my childhood days. So I spent the majority of my time studying Art Direction.

Have you ever thought that if you ever pursue your passion as your profession, would it create a problem for you? Or you would prefer to balance your passion and your profession?

Sibashis: Look, if I wanted to pursue Art Direction in Kolkata, it would be very difficult for me to make money on this platform. If I want to make money, I can't do Art Direction full time. If I am doing it, I need to have like 3-4 big films in my name. So, if I am making money by doing Law, and I'll be getting enough name in my Art Direction, then I'll save enough money and I'll shift.

If I talk about Art Directors in Kolkata, they are less interested in working here and staying at Kolkata. They're preferring to go to outer states to pursue.

Sibashis: Honestly, I have a similar plan too. But for now, as my primary platform is Calcutta High Court, so I have to stay here. I've worked in Mumbai too. I work when I get time from my profession. So for now, I can't shift anywhere.

But if all the Art Directors leave Kolkata, will it be a problem for the Bengal Film Industry?

Sibashis: Actually, I have no interest in the mainstream Film Industry. My main focus has always been Independent Filmmaking. Whenever I am working with Independent Filmmakers, they are always good filmmakers. They help me to engage my intellectual capacity in the form of an Art Director. So when I have to work with a Commercial Moviemaker, I will have to face restrictions that I don't want to.

So can we say that Independent Filmmaking is the future of Indian films?

Sibashis: Absolutely! Only they can change the stereotype of commercial propaganda. People can argue about Commercial and Independent Filmmaking, but the latter is much preferable according to me.

Which films have engaged your intellectual capacities as an art director to the maximum?

Sibashis: I haven't worked in many films as of now. I debuted with Ritama Ghosh's short film Interlude starring Rahul Roye, Sudeshna Roy, and myself. My second work is " Man and Wife" by Rahul Roye, starring Atif Ally Dagman and Kankana Chakraborty. This film is in post-production right now. Though Interlude has been my debut work. I am particularly proud of my work in Man and Wife.

Before the interview started, you also said that you would like to be a producer in the coming times. So do you think that the film industry is getting more into the hand of the producers?

Sibashis: You know that I deal with contracts in my profession. So a few days ago, an Independent filmmaker, who was willing to make a movie, and the budget was around 3 crore rupees. She got a producer, but in the contract, it was written that every production decision will be made by the producer and the director can only have suggestions, which is not acceptable at all right?

So if you get the chance to make some changes to the film production system, what changes will you suggest?

Sibashis: First of all people have to take the risk. We have to make sure that people are watching our movie and we have to do that ourselves.

If I am an aspiring filmmaker and my family is giving me the pressure of having a job, what should I pursue? Or how can I balance both just like you?

Sibashis: Look if you're confident that having 10,000 rupees per month in your pocket is enough for you, and you're ready to struggle, then you can pursue your passion, but the struggle will be really hard. Or if you can go for a job, save enough money, and then get ready to follow your passion, then the struggle will be lesser. If you have money, you can create your art. If you have a passion for something, don't give it up. Just have something in your back.

Thank you for joining us for this lovely conversation. It was helpful for me to be honest, and I guess it will also be the same for the viewers. I hope we'll again catch up for such a talk very soon.

Sibashis: Sure, thank you.

By Souptik Dey