Another Bengali post that screams out my Bengali identity … even the bird who sits on my window in the morning knows my pedigree by now. From shorshe bata Maach/mustard fish to Vivekananda Park styled aloor dum/spicy potatoes, from writing my encyclopaedic post on Bengali food to the most recent showcase of my Bengali pop up, I have been talking about my Bengali heritage, specially to those who haven’t had any initiation into Bengal. A confession here – long before I started my college, I actually aspired to make films, dabbling with subtitling and spending time in the sets of Gautam Ghosh, who has many National Awards in his kitty. And this house has been a melting point of film discussions and music. So for all the discerning movie lovers, here’s an introduction to ‘Abhijaan 2015’, the 2nd Bengali Film Festival Dubai that’s taking place from the 5th-7th February, 2015 at the Knowledge Village. What is my involvement here? Our closest friends have been part of the organising team, and I have seen how a tiny idea has grown into a full blown reality. Abhijaan is gradually evolving, and each step it takes, is longer than it’s last. This is not only about Bengali films for the Bengalis. It is about watching good films from Bengal, that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to watch at other times. Bengal has always been known for its intellectual heritage, its contribution to Indian literature, art, music, and much later on the Indian film industry (sorry folks, Bollywood doesn’t encompass the entire Indian Film Industry neither does the film City of Joy capture all the nuances of Kolkata!). The new generation Bengali directors are retaining the legacy left behind by brilliant Bengali movie makers of yesteryears – like Satyajit Ray, Rhitwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen and others.
— #Abhijaan2015 (@AbhijaanBFF) January 28, 2015
— Ishita B Saha (@IshitaUnblogged) January 27, 2015
This year, Abhijaan 2015 sees a fabulous line up of 7 Bengali films with English subtitles – Chotushkone (Srijit’s Mukherji’s masterpiece thriller, starring stalwarts like Aparna Sen, Chiranjeet Chakraborty, Gautam Ghose, Kaushik Ganguly, Parambrata Chatterjee), Teenkahon (Bauddhayan Mukherji’s debut directorial venture starring Rituparna Sengupta, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Suman Mukhopadhyay, Ashish Vidyarthi), Byomkesh Phire Elo (Directed by Anjan Dutt, starring Abir, Saswata, Usashi), Bharate (directed by Anindya Ghosh, starring Rituparna Sengupta, Arunima Ghosh), 89 (dDirected by Manoj Michigan starring Saswata Chatterjee, Raima Sen and Shataf Figar), Ebar Shobor (directorial venture of Arindam Sil, starring Swastika, Saswata, Abir) and Ek Fali (directed by Atanu Ghosh… starring Dhritiman Chatterji, Ritwik, Aparajita). While more info and snippets of the movies can be found in Facebook, grab your tickets now from platinumlist.net/tickets & itp.net/tickets.
I will be capturing some behind-the-scene angles of some of the films through my blog posts. I also stand a chance of being mentioned in the coming Academy Awards… read on to know how and why!
Starting with Teenkahon – Three Obsessions!
Meet Buddy. Bauddhayan for me. And now that his film Teenkahon (Three Obsessions) has been the most traveled and critically acclaimed Bengali film in recent times, and also because he is the first Bengali ad filmmaker to win the prestigious Silver Lion at Cannes and the only Indian to win two back to back Spikes Asia Gold, you will have to bear with my story of how our friendship goes back to those early years in school. No, honestly!!! So what if I didn’t accept his friend request on Facebook (I know that this is a downright insult, specially in today’s world. Facebook rejection is worse than rejection in love and more terrible than losing your job!), but who in their right minds would open a personal account on Facebook with the name Little Lamb? Well, that’s his film production company and one day I got a message in my inbox from this Little Lamb – hey, this is Bauddhayan… from that day onwards I have been hooked on to his ad films. For all the ad films that he has posted on Facebook and has tagged me in, and for all my generosity in letting these videos remain parked on my Facebook Timeline (a rare exception, I swear!), I can already hear my name – the last one in the long list of people that he would have to be thanking in his Academy Award acceptance speech! Now hear about Teenkahon from the horse’s mouth…
Some fun facts – It was while researching for the 1st and 2nd story, my team stumbled upon this amazing fact that both the films were actually happening on the same day 34 years apart. The devastating floods of Calcutta happened on the 4th of September 1978 and that was the backdrop of the second story, Post Mortem. The first story, Nabalok, was taking place on the same day on which Agnipariksha – the super duper hit Uttam-Suchitra starrer got released. That also happened to be the 4th of September 1954. We had goosebumps on our discovery, which refused to go away for weeks.
Also, the director’s daughter forced her way into one of the films. She had refused to let her dad carry on with shoot without giving her a bit role. The director had to yield finally. The first story Nabalok therefore had the gurumoshai’s granddaughter frying puffed rice in one of the scenes. That for you, ladies and gentlemen, is Aarsha, Bauddhayan’s daughter.
Talk about the 7-yr old Barshan Seal, who’s reminding me of Apu in Pather Panchali: Barshan, the little boy of Nabalok, who recently won the Best Actor for his portrayal of Shailen Junior at the North Carolina Global Film Festival was discovered from a locality in Habra, from the interiors of Bengal. Barshan had just tagged along with his friend who was coming for the screen test and ended up giving the screen test himself. The rest is history. His timelessness, innocence and smile have given him a proud and permanent place in Bengali film history and we are sure he doesn’t even know about it.
Buddy… what do you remember about me (you have to remember me, right)? “Hi, I am Ishita Bhattacharya from Birbhum” – the words came from this charming plumpish girl with an adorable dimple who was a new admission to our class. It was Indrani Aunty’s class – year was 1985 – grade 6. She was made to sit next to me since I was a good student and would help her catch up with the studies she has missed. I saw jealousy written large on my fellow friends’. And in no time Ishita and I became good friends and in no time just the way she had arrived, she suddenly left school… all of a sudden. But the memories stayed back. Cut to 1992. St. Xavier’s College. Economics Honours. Day 1. I saw a charming plumpish girl with an adorable smile enter the classroom and I just blurted out, “Are you Ishita Bhattacharya from Birbhum?” She looked at me just like Nirupa Roy used to look at Amitabh Bachchan and said, “Bauddhayan?” I knew my 3 years at Xavier’s would be fun! The trailer of Teenkahon has left me yearning to see the film in entirety – the first part reminiscent of Satyajit Ray’s style of film making. Buddy, get prepared to see a plumpier Ishita, next week – this time. Only now if somebody asks my name, I answer, ‘Hi, I am Ishita Unblogged from Dubai, Kolkata and the world beyond’. And guess what is common between the two of us. “Teenkahon started in the summer of 2011 in the sleepy town of Candy in Srilanka… “, Buddy says. And this blog was also conceived in Srilanka… sounds melodramatic? Of course, melodrama is just one ingredient that goes into films. But for right now, see you all at #Abhijaan2015 … the media shout outs have all started!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. All pictures have been shared with me, courtesy www.teenkahon.com and are protected by copyright. I haven’t edited Bauddhayan’s own words. You can catch my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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