The flavour of Kolkata

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Atanu Ghosh talks ‘Ek Phali Rodh’

I have liked the craft  of Atanu Ghosh right from his telefilm days for his choice of subjects, his ability to develop the characters and storytelling. His debut film Angshumaner Chhobi (where he gave first break to one of my favourite actors Indraneil Sengupta) was critically acclaimed. I liked most of his second film Takhan Teish. But I loved his last outing Rupkatha Noy which was received well by the cinema-loving audience. As the countdown for his December 5 release Ek Phali Rodh is on, the director makes time for an exclusive interview to this blog on his new film. It has an impressive lead cast of Dhritiman Chatterjee, Ritwik Chakraborty, Jisshu Sengupta, Tota Roychoudhury and Aparajita Ghosh Das.
Kolkata Curry (KC): Ek Phali Rodh revolves around the bystander effect. The subject sounds more documentary than a full length feature film. What made you approach and develop such a subject for the big screen? Weren’t you apprehensive of audience acceptance?
Atanu Ghosh (A): On the contrary, I feel there is little you can ‘document’ about Bystander Effect, because it happens in reality and you do not know when it is going to happen ! So you cannot get prepared to photograph it unless you have CCTV cameras fitted in every nook and corner of the city that captures real life. What drew me to the subject was the method adopted by social scientists to study it, that is, the process of creating ‘mock’ crisis. Fiction films are about ‘mock’ situations and ‘crisis’ is the most dominating dramatic interest in any fictional film. So I had no apprehension whatsoever regarding the choice of the subject and I knew for certain that it has all the ingredients that go into making of an engrossing fiction film.

KC: Like your last film Rupkatha Noy, does it also have stories running parellely?

A: No, here a group of people get assembled towards the common cause of exploring the process of Bystander Effect, that is, the socio-psychological phenomenon where people do not offer any help to a stranger in crisis. But, thereafter the film branches out exploring other facets of life. So the Bystander Effect is actually the springboard from where the film originates and then undertakes a journey of self-discovery.

KC: The shooting must have been challenging, considering you did candid shooting on real locations for some outdoor scenes.

A: Since the issue is straight out of our lives and directly related to our own experience, I wanted the film to have the feel of emerging out of ‘real’ life. I avoided all sorts of made-up or decked -up situations, which is normally done in case of fictional films. So it is like ‘photographed reality’. No superficiality. No overplayed emotion. No pretension. We shot in crowded roads using hidden cameras and even when the locations were indoor, we chose places like general ward of public hospital during visiting hours. So, the actors, in a way, mingled with the general crowd to get as close to reality as possible. Yes, it was very difficult at times, but very really challenging as well.

KC:  Like the last one, this also has an ensemble cast. Please share with us how you went about casting the main characters.

A: Never before, I had so many of my favourite actors working together, as in Ek Phaali Rodh. I craved for those who keep us glued to the screen not only for the principal cast but also for the notable cameos. So we have Dhritiman, Ritwik, Jisshu, Tota and Aparajita playing the lead while Rudranil Ghosh, Arunima Ghosh, Dulal Lahiri, Barun Chanda and Arindam Sil have enriched the film with their brief but glowing presence. And keep your eyes open for two young debutants who are bound to steal the show - Mahua Halder and Aritro Dutta.

KC: Do you think Tota is an underrated and underutilised actor ?

A: Undoubtably so. The effort Tota puts into a role is incomparable. His willingness to push his capacity to its limits has given us memorable performances in Chokher Bali and Angshumaner Chhobi and I really believe he would be a revelation in Ek Phaali Rodh as well. He has put in an entirely different body language to bring out the contrasting qualities of strength and vulnerability in the role of the blind author of love stories.

KC: Joy Sarkar has scored the music again for your film. How have you used it in the film ?

A: I always want music to flow out effortlessly from a film. I don’t want them to remain separate entities as song numbers or background pieces. They should integrate into the fabric of the film and become quite invisible. Joy is remarkably spontaneous. He can effortlessly blend a song into the fabric of the film. In Ek Phaali Rodh, the songs provide an alternate layer of input – sometimes they hold a torch to a character’s psyche, sometimes they add a footnote to the images and sometimes they even suggest an alternate interpretation of the scenes.

KC:  Finally, which Bengali films have you liked in 2014, and why?

A: In the last few years, I am really drawn to the wide range of subjects that Bengali films are trying to explore. It’s really fascinating to come across some specimens of unique concept and novel treatment. In 2014 too, I liked quite a few films for various reasons, the last one being Chotushkon for its distinctly different form of storytelling.
Here’s wishing Ek Phali Rodh all the very best.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Turtle’s call for some action

Well, when you see a teaser like this on social media, before you go to the bottom, the expectation built comes with a dash of naughtiness. Here’s the revealer that follows:

You are drawn towards the picture and the hashtagged campaign name. Then immediately looking further, you notice the message at the right. It’s not matching your expectation, but the proposition is probably not something you would like to brush away.
In keeping with its image of a socially conscious brand, this time Turtle spares a thought for the underprivileged as the winter is setting in, by engaging people to donate clothes in any Turtle store in India. The clothes will go to the underprivileged (after washing) through Goonj, a well-known national NGO, and give them a little more warmth this winter. So if your clothes are winterwear, great! To spread the word, Turtle is encouraging you to post a picture on the social media with (hashtag) #idroppedmyclothes and nominate your friends/family to do the same. For a change doing your bit for the people less fortunate than you comes with its share of fun. 
The campaign was launched by team Ebar Shabor (The eagerly awaited Bengali detective flick starring Saswata Chatterjee in the title role, releasing this December). The director Arindam Sil and cast members including Saswata, Subhrjit Dutta, June Maliah and music director Bickram Ghosh donated clothes in the South City Mall store. They posted pictures and nominated their friends to do the same.

Team Ebar Shabor at the launch
Clothes have started pouring in the boxes in various stores. Here’s a shoutout for Somshubhra Ray (picture below), one of the early supporters, for dropping fifty clothes in the Gariahat store.

So if it sounds interesting, go ahead and drop your clothes in a store. Get clicked and share it on social media to get others join in. Otherwise you may also share this post on your social media pages to spread the word. Happy dropping.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Open Tee Bioscope: First look

Here's the first look of Open Tee Bioscope, the eagerly awaited Bengali movie which will mark the directorial debut of Chandrabindoo's Anindya Chattopadhyay. It was launched by none other than Amitabh Bachchan among much fanfare on 17th November, 2014.

OK, for the uninitiated about this very special guest unveiling the first look, he was shooting in the city for Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar, who happens to be the producer of Open Tee Bioscope.

Coming back to the movie, it's a growing up tale of a bunch of adolescents in north Kolkata, where Anindya himself has grown up and became famous. The movie has been extensively shot in that part of the city, and ends with a football match, underscoring the north Kolkatan's passion for the sport. Interestingly among the lead cast- Riddhi, Rwitobroto and Dhee are sons of well-known fathers like Koushik Sen, Shantilal Mukherjee and Shilajit respectively.You have seen Riddhi and Rwitobroto in Kahaani. I hope to come back with more about the movie.

The charms of rail journey

Came across this unique group of rail lovers on Facebook. I am an ardent lover of rail journey and a firm believer of the fact that to know Bharat (not India) you need to travel long distance by rail. Rail journey throws open a plethora of beautiful visuals of nature, and rural, suburban and urban lives. It brings to us villages, towns and cities and gives us a peek into the lives being lived there which we wouldn’t have known or seen otherwise. Not to mention the railway infrastructure- various trains, stations of various sizes and era etc- which can be a study in itself. The members of the group, called Railway Lovers, frequently post photographs shot en route. Here starts a series of curated pictures from the group.

Nilgiri Mountain Railway through Glendale Tea Estate
by Bhaswaran Bhattacharya.
 The above is the cover photo of the group.

Guwahati-Kajiranga Express towards Burdwan in winter. By Vivian Boye.

 Pichkurir Dhal halt (near Bolpur) by Arunava Das. 

Between Takipur and Lohapur in the evening. By Akm Jasimuddin.

Galsi station (Burdwan), pre-winter 6.40 pm. by Suraj Samuel Hansda.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The middle class brand that charms the mind

I got hooked to this brand in my first job, which was late nineties. At that time it was young too.  One of its outlets was near our office and I used to be one of the two volunteers among the new batch of trainees who would love to go there to fetch refreshment for the Sales team after a hard day on the field. I am a savoury person and it didn’t take long for me to get familiar with all items in the savoury section of the outlet.
Monginis still leads the cake shop space at ease in Kolkata and its suburbs in the economy segment and the reasons aren’t hard to gauge. It delivers value for money, which includes a reasonable quality. It started long after Kathleen and was followed by new entrant Sugar n Spice in a few years, but it left the former far behind and the latter still has a long way to go before it becomes a challenger. Sugar n Spice, interestingly, is often visible near Monginis, but it is still struggling (or is it really trying?)  to come close to the quality that Monginis has been consistently delivering.
Yes, Monginis is far behind a Cakes or Kookie Jar in cakes, but who cares? There’s no competition as such, as they operate in mutually exclusive spaces. And as a matter of fact, there are customers who like both kinds of brands. I am one, for instance.  The choice depends on the occasion, mood or budget.
Being a loyal customer, what I feel, based on my observation of more than a decade and a half, about what makes Monginis tick is that it completely understands its audience- the middle class Kolkatan and suburbanite- what they like and how much they are happy to pay for it. The factors that contribute to its consistent leadership include a knack for constantly refreshing its range (That is adding new products and dropping products which aren’t finding patronage), right pricing with nominal revision time to time (Its chicken patty is sold at Rs 20 and I can’t remember the time when it was revised from Rs 18) and excellent penetration. If you are in proper Kolkata, you aren’t probably very far from a Monginis outlet.

Few of my constant favourites are the very basic chicken patty, chilli paneer roll and Date Walnut Slice (which is capable to impress those who swear by premium cake shops). Over all these years of my patronage I've tried almost all savoury items, liked most of them and ticked off some that I have found to be falling in quality. Among a little expensive items, I like Chicken 65 roll (Rs 35), as it satiates my craving of something very spicy and non-veg in the afternoon. I don’t really have a weakness for its cakes, as I don’t have a sweet tooth and generally stick to its savoury section. However I love its baked pudding (named Manohara Baked), garnished with nuts. Of late Monginis is adding premium products to offer its customers a wider choice and among them are Chicken 65, Olive Chicken Sub, Fishwich (a fried fish sandwich) and various mousse. The sub is a favourite, but Fishwich didn’t work for me. I felt it could do with less of soggy French fries and a bit of more fish. Liked the butterscotch mousse.

I have a friend with who I regularly exchange notes on our Monginis recommendations. One of his favourites was potato cheese sandwich which they no more sell. One such favourite of mine is chicken salad roll which I sorely miss.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A curious case of surnames in Tolly

Was struggling to find the subject of the comeback post. Then this one struck and instantly liked its lightness. Was thinking of making this a Facebook post first and seek contribution from friends.
A close look at the names of famous and well-known actors and directors of Tollygunge curiously revealed that certain surnames rule here. Let’s start with the biggest- Chatterjee. This one has an amazing span over generations. No prizes for guessing who comes first- The matinee idol Uttam Kumar, whose official name read Arun Kumar Chatterjee. Next is, obviously, Soumitra. And then Biswajit, Subhendu, Sabitri, Moushumi and Anil. The baton is being ably carried in this generation by Prosenjit, Saswata, Parambrata, Abir and Ananya. Will have to add Dhritiman at present times, as more of his work than in the past is happening now. It is to be noticed that there are not one but two father-son pairs here. And though not famous, Abir has company of his parents Phalguni and Rumki at work. Also, though his claim to fame was one iconic character, Tapen (Gupi) was a Chatterjee too. I think it’s fair to call Chatterjee the ‘Big C’ of Bangla cinema.
If Chatterjee comes, can Sen be far behind? There are so many famous bearers of this surname- Starting with none other than the timeless heartthrob Suchitra, followed by Aparna, Mrinal (director), and then Moon Moon and Raima through the generations. Add famous filmmaker Asit Sen and also Subrata Sen, who once told this blogger that in film festivals abroad all the Sens are thought to be related!
The third position certainly belongs to the Chakrabortys. And no credit to guess who comes first- The Mahaguru- Mithun. Giving him company are Lili, Chiranjit (aka Deepak Chakraborty), Sabyasachi and Raj (Director). The would-be members of the Chakraborty Hall of fame seems to be Sabyasachi’s sons- Gaurab and Arjun.
Mukherjees aren’t way behind. Lead by the eminent Srijit, two of his colleagues form a trio with him Kamaleshwar and Shiboprosad. Among actors- Father-daughter duo Santu-Swastika and Kharaj.
Though the queen bee, Rituparna Sengupta has company of, not many, but Indraneil and Jisshu.
Same with Ghosh and Ganguly. Robi Ghosh has been joined through generations by Gautam (director), Rituparno and Rudranil. Roopa Ganguly is joined by Kaushik and Churni. Duttas are few too- I remember Anjan and Anik.
Signing off here, but this is not an exhaustive list for sure. It can go on and on. You are welcome to contribute. In fact I would love to do a follow-up post if I smell enough meat.