The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

‘Elixir’ makes it to the Cannes big league

A lady was waiting at a restaurant in Kolkata for her husband’s friend to deliver a parcel. The waiter served her a glass of water. And it changed her life, as it was not water, but ‘Elixir’.

Srija was living an unhappy life because of a failed marriage. Her husband was a corporate slave and had little time for his family. The Elixir gives a U-turn to her living by transporting her to a dream life where she meets a man and they fall in love. Akash, her lover, is in his early thirties, very sensitive and caring and has all the qualities of a quintessential Bengali lover. She starts living two parallel lives but yearns for this imaginary life and prefers it to the reality. It affects her psychological well-being and she eventually ends up in a hospital. There, she is offered a final choice- another drink of Elixir.

This is the synopsis of a short film named Elixir made by debutant Anirban Guha, born and brought up in Kolkata, and working as a banker in Delhi. What makes this film different is that it has been selected among forty films from India for screening at the ongoing Cannes Short Film Corner (11th to 22nd May 2016).

 The official poster for Cannes Short Film Corner

Another interesting bit about the film is that those who have acted in it are all non-actors, except the female lead Daminee Benny Basu. Mahul Brahma, a Kolkata-based senior editor-turned-corporate communicator, plays Akash, her dream lover. Anirban, however, had the support of an experienced cinematographer and editor in Ravi Kiran Ayyagari and Sreya Chatterjee respectively, both alumni of FTII. Sreya won a national award for her work in 2008.

As I asked Anirban how he had zeroed in on the story, he revealed that the story (written by his wife Sinjini Sengupta) actually inspired the film. He was very excited with the story, so decided to base the film on it.

About casting Mahul, Anirban said that he was his first choice for Akash because he was sure that Mahul would be able to deliver. He was glad that Mahul agreed to do the role and did justice to it. Mahul, on the other hand, is happy about his new experience. He said, “When Anirban told me about the role I thought he must be joking. He was absolutely sure that I will fit the role of Akash, the dream lover, best. Every day of the shoot was a challenge for me. But thanks to the excellent team effort, the hard work paid off.  Watching our movie screened at Cannes Film Festival will be an amazing experience.”

Mahul Brahma in a still from the film

The making of the film was quite a challenge. Anirban being extremely busy with his job, shot the film in just four days in Kolkata in December 2015 when he finally managed to take leave. The post-production was the biggest challenge as his crew was spread across three cities. Hence, much of the iterative and intense work had to be carried out over conversations over phone and internet chat. It also needed with some quick trips to Kolkata over weekends to brush up and even out loose ends.

#Cannes #Elixir #ShortFilmKolkata

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