Dipankar Chaki: Synchronising the sounds of cinema with the film industry

Posted by Kaahon Desk On February 6, 2018

Dipankar (Jojo) Chaki is a known name not only in the Bengali cinema industry, but also in the arena of Indian cinema as sound designer, sound editor, sound recordist, sound mixing engineer and many more which carries a prefix, ‘sound’ in the post-production process in cinema. He (along with his partner Anirban Sengupta) has been known for designing sound for films which are intellectually adorned yet commercially released and successful, to name a few would be Baishe Srabon, Chatushkon, Mishawr Rawhoshyo, Dutta Vs. Dutta, Jatishwar, Praktan, Peace Heaven, Chaplin, Memories of March, Nirbak. The list is endless, but a few to mark that he has been working with almost all the celebrated art house filmmakers of Bengal. They even bagged the National Award for best sound design for Kaushik Ganguly’s Shabdo, a film based on the life of a folly artist in 2012 and another one for Nirbashito in 2016. From the circuit of the Bengali film, he impressed the Bollywood even with his work in Pink by Shoojit Sircar. Dipankar Chaki is passionate about creating magic with sound in films. It does not matter whether the film he chooses has to be commercially viable. He even worked for independent films like Gandu, Rati Chakravyuh, Tasher Desh and many documentary films, short films, which demanded something more from his craft.

Being almost like a fresher, when he had come to the Bengali film industry to work as sound designer, the industry were focused mostly on Mono sound track for films. Applying new technology vis-à-vis new aesthetics in terms of sound design, like 5.1 or surround sound in films and rediscover the space where the characters were interacting was next to impossible in Bengali films. It is because firstly, the think tank which influenced and guided the industry, was not updated enough and secondly, though most importantly, there were no technology available to serve the change. Dipankar and his associate Anirban Sengupta (Potla) were lucky that way that they came to the Bengali film industry to work at a time, when the sound section in the whole post-production process was going through transition. New cheaper recording and audio post-production equipment came into the market, which could deliver the surround sound to match the demand of the time. Freshly motivated directors wanted to use this new aesthetics in their films and Dipankar could feel that it is his zone where he could specialize. The great union happened.  Young talents of sound joined Dipankar and Anirban, the Jojo-Potla duo and they built a team and formed Dream Digital and started working as a team. They started exploring how they could work with reconstructed sound, and add value to an artist’s work. The first step he realized was that he needed to record well. Then he needed to process it well, so that the translation is good at theater. The first film that he did with 5.1 was Patalghar. After that he did Chalo Lets’ Go, which worked in market, and then his journey sailed off.

Most of the talked about Bengali films are a blend of intellectual nutrition and a commercial visual experience. These kinds of films demand the establishment of the space not only through visual but also through sound. Just a realistic good recording of it do not bring the effect that is experienced in theaters, the sound needs reconstruction and design. Dipankar Chaki is one of the masters who uses sync sound and mixes with other formats, to give the audience a feel of the exact spatial experience according to his imagination. Dipankar Chaki excels in that kind of the sound designing of the film, where no such commercial unrealistic events such as a blast or car crash and the like happens, rather the dialogue, music, ambience, and mood matter most. He discusses in detail about different ways of dialogue recording (dubbing) using different mikes focusing respective purposes in films.

Though he is definitely one of the key persons in popularizing the Dolby Digital 5.1 or other technological aesthetics in sound in Bengali film industry, on the personal front the minimal approach also suits him perfectly on the films’ demand in terms of sound design. Dipankar accepts that the market pressure of expectations from the films and the general practices, habits of film viewing finally dominate the technological decisions being taken for films. He still believes that a simple stereo sound design can do well in cinema and can reach out to a great extent if the films are good in true sense. Technology should not dictate cinema rather cinema should invite technology according to its necessity. But, unfortunately, market takes the final call almost in all the cases.

Dipankar Chaki feels that the producers working in Bengali film industry, do not have any technical background, hence they fail to optimize the budget in making films. As a result whole pressure comes on the post-production and intend to curb the expenses in the final process, which affects the quality of cinema to a large extent. This is not desirable for a healthy film industry and should be taken in serious note. Even then, he is optimistic about the industry and looking for a creative union, which will push the filmmaking practice here in Bengal to imagine beyond its limitations and explore new possibilities in sound in cinema.

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