The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A new-age Kolkata comedy

A bunch of young people have just shot what looks like a new-age Bengali film about 'characteristics that are uniquely Kolkata'. Interestingly titled No Poblem, it's a comedy that laughs at certain elements of middle class Bengaliness, made by Mumbai-based Soumik Sen who wrote Anthony Kaun Hai and is making his directorial debut with this film.

Here's a freewheeling exclusive interview of Soumik with Kolkata Curry:

Kolkata Curry (KC): What is the film all about?
Soumik: No Poblem is a film about middle class Bengalis finding confusions and conclusions to their existence in the metropolis. It's experimental in its narrative, but overall an intellegent riot of a comedy.

KC: What's behind the different spelling of the title of the film?
Soumik: It stems from the fact that lot of Bengalis in their customary nonchalance, choose to leave out the 'R' in their conversation. From pestige, pogram, pofession to Posenjit. Hence Poblem.

KC: What was the starting point of the story idea?
Soumik: I guess it's the character that Park Street has endured, over the years and the uniqueness of individuals that have inspired the quintessential Bangali wit, but something which one misses on cinema. And yes, amidst the technological upheaval, the Bangaliana survives with immense confidence.

KC: Instead of stars the film banks on actors from television and newcomers. How deliberate was it and how far has your cast taken the film forward?
Soumik: Except for Kanchan Mullik, who was in my mind when I wrote Cycle Bapi, I wanted to cast characters rather than box office draws.

The cast has performed admirably, and embody the essence of the characters written for the film.

KC: Is it a cerebral comedy aiming at primarily multiplex audience, a la Bheja Fry, or it has a wider appeal?
Soumik: I don't know if any film is written with an audience in mind. At least not this one. I have my own upbringing and I guess, my sense of humour stems from it. Although the smartness is normally associated with the comfort of a plush multiplex, I don't think humour has any segregation neither does entertainment. I hope everybody who sees it has a good laugh and an enjoyable trip.

KC: How much of Kolkata is in this 'Kolkata comedy'?
Soumik: Hugely. The film, couldn't be made in Hindi although I've had some actor friends who said they'd want to play roles if I set it in Mumbai. But that wasn't a temptation anyways. Kolkata is the star of the film. From the tram to Park Street, to middle class weddings to Writer's Building, to the Dhakuria lake to the football culture to suburban values and political leftousness, it's all Kolkata.

KC: Tell me about the music that you've scored for it. What are its highpoints?
Soumik: I guess it's esoteric approach. Have used vocals of Kutty from Abhilasha for a Bangla techno dance track, Siddharth of cactus singing a old world ballad and English band SPAN singing a bossanova pub track amongst others. I guess, you'll be surprised and pleasantly so.

KC: What was the shooting experience in Kolkata like, considering you've worked in Mumbai so far?
Soumik: Extremely warm and with a bunch of high-energy professionals who love working across conditions, very committed to their craft.