July 1, 2010

From Supriya Chaudhuri

May 6, 2010

I’m writing in a bit late because I’ve been away, but I haven’t been able to get the film out of my mind. I was deeply moved by Sthaniya Sambaad, though it does not use emotions in a conventional way. Its employment of film language is exceptional: there isn’t a single false moment, despite the episodic, sometimes aimless, sometimes bizarre sequence of events. There is an extraordinary combination of urban nostalgia with a postmodern sense of the city as phantasmagoria, a space of fantasy and unreality. At one level the colony is a little oasis of 40s and 50s values (post-Partition values, and here the film is reminiscent of Ghatak) and at another it is just a springboard for an exploration of the new city, the city that will swallow the colony up and leave only tattered remnants behind. But what is finally remarkable, I think, is that Sthaniya Sambaad is not a slave to its own nostalgia: rather, it inhabits, flows with, the flux of its own postmodern moment.

Supryia Chaudhuri, Professor of English, Jadavpur University


From Swapan Chakravorty

May 2, 2010

The film brings an element of dark political satire that is rare in Bengali cinema. Especially enjoyable to those able to catch the cultural allusions (such as those to the films of Ghatak and to the songs), the film will appeal to those who might find in it shades of a political chase. Most important, the film is prescient about the displacement, material and otherwise, that global capital is bringing to our lives. The dialogue is consistently witty, with a bathos that reminds one of the best moments in the theatre of Utpal Dutt. This is a film that will make one believe in the creative intelligence and boldness of young filmmakers from Kolkata.

Swapan Chakravorty, Professor of English, Jadavpur University. Director, National Library, Calcutta


From Ravi Vasudevan

March 29, 2010

I liked very much the bid to develop a very specific type of tempo, captured by the trope of somnambulism, the feeling of being somewhat out of joint or
out-of-time, a disphasure (?) as a structuring feature of narration. The deployment of stasis, stillness and re-framing, used for the shopfront conversation and the portraiture of the ‘alphabets’ acquired an effect which is again interestingly off-centre from the traditional choric functions. I liked this ambition, to capture multiple entry points or conditions of being, and the ruse (this is from Geeta Kapur’s comments!) of deploying the out of joint persona as a thread whose avowed target or object of desire is herself displaced and dispersed scenically. The kafkaesque alternative universe inhabited by the linguistically diverse and yet challenged pair (can they string together a coherent sentence in any known language?) was great fun, opened all sorts of spaces, non-spaces as in the wonderful opening tabula rasa, through to strange corridors, beef eating joints, and the
ultimate piece de resistance, Mr Paul’s overview of the urban horizon. This was my reference to Lynch, not as something you may consciously have quoted, but as strategy for making worlds strange by creating parallel and yet intersecting universes, a moebius strip effect which seems particularly apposite to the world(s) we live or dream in.

As you can see, many lines of thought and excitement, but a second screening is a must!

love, Ravi

Ravi Vasudevan, Professor and Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi


from Michael Taussig

March 3, 2010

“The film was great Moinak, clever, subtle, funny, and serious all at once, loved the Tagore references and the Brechtian chorus of neer -do-wells, this vast canvas of characters from all walks of life. However the two scoundrels with their back pack were a little difficult  to integrate, I thought…”

Michael Taussig, Class of 1933 Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, NY


From Mo

February 25, 2010

I cannot agree more to Tom’s comments – I had a rush of all past and present film makers come to my mind. It is an urban classic. I think the Indian film to break through has arrived, now let us see what we do with it.

Mo, Mumbai


Action cinema passing through the luminous image of kirtan dance

February 25, 2010

Congratulations to the directors on the making of Sthaniya Sambad. From the breath-taking opening shot of the city (which I later learnt was taken from atop the South City building complex)to the last sequences where fleeting glimpses of a faux-James Bond movie, Antonioni/Tarkovsky, Ghatak and much else follow one upon the other one was riveted by the bag of tricks the directors had to employ to convey to us the complex flavours of life in a Calcutta resettlement colony. It’s a space constantly being destroyed and rebuilt and one had a feeling that a hundred years from now archaeologists would have to watch this movie to reconstruct the layers of the garbage dump they will stumble upon on one of their digs marking the place where once the colony stood. Thus the silent destruction of the colony might ’sum up’ the negativity of such an act against the cacophony of voices and desires that are always incomplete and colliding with one another in such a space but such a destruction is as the still photos with which the film ends merely one more layer of interactive chaos added to the cultural stratigraphy of the landscape. Likewise the film follows a searching, prowling discontinuous mode of presentation of presences where movements, bodies and most remarkably voices overlap/collide to show why it is so difficult to belong to such a place and to leave it – incomplete signals that tantalize the mind with the telos of emotional satiety, of completion of ‘meaning’ can add up to create chaos in the head but also keep you running back to the space in the hope that one series of signals will reach fruition.  Read the rest of this entry »