Former food minister Jyotipriya Mallick-closer Bakibur Rahman’s film ‘Mangrove’ produced by the ration corruption case has been in the headlines for the past few days. The director of the 2014 Tollywood film that failed at the box office has practically burst a bomb. With the initial investigation of the ED, the food department that came up in the media based on this picture, he met the arrested producer and rice owner Bakibur in the relevant department, this is what the director of ‘Mangrove’ Sourav Mukherjee has claimed. Sourav claimed to TV9 Bangla, “I met producer Bakibur Rahman through the hands of former Deputy Director (Joint Director) Parthasarathy Gayen of the Food Department.” Another ‘familiar’ face involved in the corruption case, Arpita Mukhopadhyay, who is close to former education minister Partha Chatterjee, who was jailed in the school recruitment corruption case, acted in the film ‘Mangrove’, which was the subject of so much discussion.
From school recruitment to rations—corrupt money can easily be ‘whitewashed’ by investing money in Tollywood films, the allegation since last year continues to plague the ‘stand by Bengali film’ slogan-raising industry. In this case, the film that ED is eyeing, the director of ‘Mangrove’ Sourav Mukherjee made a film called ‘Zamin’. When Sourav told TV9 Bangla that he himself is an employee of the Food Department. But how did the name of a rice mill owner suddenly come up as a film producer at that time? Saurabh told TV9 Bangla, “I spoke to Bakibur Rahman from the office of the food department.” Saurabh, an employee of the Food Department, used to organize various cultural events with a team from the office. Deputy Director Parthasarathy Gayen and many others were on that team.
Says Sourav, “We sometimes plan to make short films. Then one day the ‘Mangrove’ story came to hand. And then the search for a financier or producer begins. It was at that time that this Bakibur Rahman was talked to – in the office. It was my superiors who spoke. After many discussions, it was decided that the movie would be done.” Another piece of information has emerged in the ED investigation. That is, Parthasarathy Gayen requested Sourav to direct the film based on his novel ‘Mangrove’. The director of ‘Mangrove’ said, “Later I came to know that this Bakibur Rahman has many businesses.” That’s why he took Ahen Bakibur as a producer ‘naturally’ for his film, says Sourav.
Why did Sourav go to take Arpita, who is close to the former education minister, as a heroine? Did someone ‘suggest’ Arpita’s name? ‘Mangrove’ director Sourav replied, “Though we talked to many other actresses, Arpita seemed to fit our story and the film’s budget. All of us in the team decide on Arpita.” ED investigated and got another sensational information in this context: Talks with a top actress of Tollywood as a heroine progressed quite a bit, but in the end, due to legal complications, that heroine could not be filmed anymore. Arpita was acting in several Odia films at that time.
Rakhi Sawant from Mumbai was seen as an ‘item dancer’ in this film. So was ‘Mangrove’ thought of as a big-budget film? The director replied, “A famous actress from Kolkata was supposed to do this dance. But as he could not give time, Rakhi was thought of. But Rakhi Sawant worked for very low wages.” Sourav also said that Bakibur had to gain a lot of momentum during the release of the film, as money was needed to release the film in a few theaters in Kolkata. Sourav claimed that the film was released with difficulty at that time. Sourav added about Bakibur, “I saw that Bakibur Rahman was a cultured person. He settled everyone’s money at the right time.”
After the arrest of former Food Minister Jyotipriya Mallik and Bakibur Rahman, the past is now clear to Sourav, isn’t it? Does he think that his picture was made with the money of corruption? Saurabh replied, “I am still an employee of the Food Department. My seniors were involved in the making of this film. I didn’t know anything then. Now I can get information through the media.”
Parthasarathi Gayen, who is now retired, once worked as a food controller in North 24 Parganas, ED said in the investigation. The ‘casting’ of Arpita Mukhopadhyay, a close associate of the former Education Minister, and Bakibur Rahman, close to the former Food Minister, appearing as producers in the film based on a novel written by himself (which director Anant still claims), are these two things purely coincidental or something else is at work behind it? Chemistry, for now, the ED officials are busy looking for the answer to that question.