His first feature film, Khaasi Katha, might have been a long time in the coming since Judhajit Sircar graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, but it left a mark because of its unusual take on the human-animal relationship. Now this communications expert and filmmaker’s Kolkatar King is going places. It was screened in the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema competition section at the recently concluded 21st Kolkata International Film Festival and was also part of the Indian Panorama at the International Film Festival of India at Goa. The film offers a very relevant lesson in post-modern cinema in the way it fuses form, content, technique and colour to narrate, once again, an extremely unusual story. The response in the filled theatre at Nandan was mindblowing. But let us hear it from the director himself. Excerpts:
After Khasi Katha, this film seems to be a polar opposite. Your comment.
Stylistically, this is a different film and I feel at home in this style. Khasi Katha kept me a bit unsure about following a non-linear structure. But there are similarities. While the second film is an inspiration from Brecht’s Three Penny Opera, I was inclined to a style that was different because straight storytelling wouldn’t have worked. I find myself most comfortable in this form.
You’ve titled the film Kolkatar King. Why Kolkata and why “King”, because the hero could have belonged to any metro in contemporary India since he is negative?
All the characters in this film, male and female, are negative with shades of grey. It is not as if one character is bad and another good as a foil to that. Why Kolkata? The city is a metaphor for any other city undergoing changes in the name of development and progress, but in a decaying society like ours it’s more relevant.
You’ve used a different texture and composition of cinematography in terms of colours — mainly primary colours — their shadings, the angles, the distance of shots, and so on. Distorted angles have also been resorted to. This is somewhat relatively new in Bengali cinema. Would you kindly explain this?
Initially, I thought of making the film in colour. But during editing I realised that it would be more effective if done with black and white. However, since black and white would be a little too oppressive, I therefore resorted to different tones and colours. This is also a reaction to the current Bangla film look, which is very predictable.