(Published in The Sunday Indian; July 2012 Issue; http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/writecamera—direction/77/37280/ )
Winner of ‘Swarna Kamal’ award for film criticism, Utpal Borpujari bid adieu to news reporting last year because he wanted to explore the world of documentaries, finds out KS Narayanan KS NARAYANAN | New Delhi, July 6, 2012 16:41
After a degree in M Tech in Applied Geology from IIT-Roorkee, Utpal Borpujari plunged into writing news and features resisting tempting offers from multinational companies. After being a wordsmith for nearly two decades in media houses across the country, Borpujari has taken to script writing and direction since more than a year ago now.
You were trained as a geologist. How did you take to journalism?
It was by choice, though there were quite a lot of upset faces at home! I had done my M Tech in Applied Geology from IIT-Roorkee, so everyone expected me to take up a job in some multinational geological firm. But I became a journalist as by then I had finally found what I actually liked doing, and that was writing news stories and features.
What was the high point of your career?
I won the Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) for Best Film Criticism at the 50th National Film Awards of India in 2003. I think that is the biggest moment for me as a journalist as I was the first person from North-East India to get this honour, which I received from the then President of India, A P J Abdul Kalam.
Why did you quit journalism?
The profession of a journalist was becoming less and less challenging for me, especially as I felt professionalism was becoming a casualty at the hands of a few in the organisation I was last working for. Fortunately, it coincided with my growing urge to become a filmmaker, so I could take a decision to shift, unlike many who are forced to continue despite not liking it. The media atmosphere is not anymore like what it was when I joined the profession. Real news is often not covered, and sensationalism and the routine dominate the profession. A lot of mediocre people have occupied senior positions – we don’t have any inspiring editors to look up to now.
Is film making as easy as film reviewing and writing features?
Neither is easy if one wants to do it seriously. Film criticism requires a lot of study to keep oneself updated about cinema as it is happening in different parts of the world. I am not talking of the Friday film reviews in this context – film criticism is a much wider subject than that, though in our country the commonly held notion is that film criticism only means what reviewers write every Friday.
Tell us about your upcoming projects?
I have completed a documentary on Mayong, a village in Assam famous for its magic practitioners, a place which is still steeped in a lot of mystery. My documentary is a journey into whether there is still magic or is it all a thing of the past. I have also finished writing the script of a children’s film to be made in Assamese, and I’m in the process of developing a story for a Hindi film. Also, two other documentaries, set in Assam and Meghalaya are lined up.