National award winning film-maker Suman Mukhopadhyay's 'Mahanagar@Kolkata', a film which shows the city of joy in a new avatar, is all set to be screened at the Munich film festival at the end of this month.
The city, with its majestic colonial buildings and cobwebbed streets co-existing peacefully with the avant-garde, comes alive in the film which promises to walk a path untrodden by Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen when they made films with the Kolkata as the backdrop.
The new film happens a long time after Ray's 'Mahanagar' and Sen's famous Calcutta trilogy, cult films of the 70s, where the two directors set out to explore the city's multi-facted psyche.
The movie, which is due for showing in the non-competitive section of the film festival, turns the spotlight on the city revealing an altogether new identity, the director said.
"The Film has been renamed 'Metropolis@Kolkata' for international screenings. We will be sending the film to other competitive festivals in Europe and US as well," Mukhopadhyay, who won the National award for his film 'Herbert' in 2006, told PTI.
The director's earlier film on a Tagore period piece 'Chaturanga' had won the Golden Reel Award at the Nevada Film Festival and the Golden Palm Award for Best Feature at the Mexico International Film Festival last year.
'Mahanagar@Kolkata' is based on three short stories by Bengali writer Nabarun Bhattacharya and stars actress Rituparna Sengupta and Chandan Roy Sanyal, famous for his role of Mikhail in 'Kaminey'."Set in a different milieu, the film has three stories inter-connected just as the city's past and present are interlinked seamlessly," said Mukhopadhyay.
Interestingly, the same characters don't hold centrestage in all the three stories - 'Ek Tukro Nyloner Dori' (One Nylon Rope), 'Amar Kono Bhoy Nei To' (Do I Have Any Fear) and Chandragrahan (Lunar Eclipse) - and alternately occupy the foreground or background.
"You cannot label it as another 'Love Sex Aur Dhoka' or 'Life in a Metro'," Mukhopadhyay said, referring to recent Bollywood films having the city Mumbai as the backdrop.
"Stylistically it has elements of LSD by consciously abhoring the straight narrative path with stark images and like 'Life in a Metro' here also the city comes on its own where the songs of a city ballad group bind the plots," said Mukhopadhayay.
Is he influenced by the Kolkata trilogy by Sen and 'Mahangar' by Ray?
"Though I am greatly influenced by these films, my work has obviously no similarity except the city forming the backdrop," said the director.
Actor-director Anjan Dutt will appear in the significant role of a government official, while singer-turned MP Kabir Suman will return in another important performance, his second after 'Chaturango', Mukhopadhyay said. Suman had essayed the short role of a real estate don in the film.
Music also plays a very important role in binding the three plots together and acts as a commentator on the social life with the punch and urban edginess.
The director said he had initially intended to start shooting for 'Mahanagar@Kolkata' back in 2008, but the film had to be shelved due to financial problems. He took up the project last year with a new producer and a re-cast script.
Referring to the use of rock music as the leitmotif in a film, Mukhopadhyay said, "Perhaps the very idea of using rock music as a common strand was first used by me in a telefilm 'Bhalobasa Golmal' made way back in 2001."
Mukhopadhyay, who shot to fame by directing theatre production 'Teesta Parer Brittanto' (Tale of the Denizens of Teesta Bank), a poignant documentation of north Bengal, wishes to direct a film to chronicle post-9/11 developments in the minds of people.
"I don't wish to focus directly on 9/11 as my work will not be didactic in the style. Neither do I intend to use the terrorism events as metaphor. Rather my idea is to chronicle the inner vulnerability of every citizen, despite the outward facade of normalcy, in the face of disasters," he said.
"Think about the Jnaneshwari tragedy. There is that sense of insecurity among us all, we cannot escape that feeling, but we have to live with it and carry on our other activities. I intend to touch things at the subliminal level," he added.
He also wishes to adapt cult classic 'Putul Nacher Itikatha' (The Tale of Puppetry) by late Bengali writer Manik Bandyopadhyay for the big screen in the future.