Grant Period: Two years
Bodhaditya Bandyopadhyay was a film student at Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute and has done his Post Graduation from Jadavpur University. He has directed an independently produced full length feature film shot digitally.
In the 19th century, a unique sub-literary form called Naksa gained popularity and many works in this genre were produced. Naksa was a genre that thrived on sleaze and juicy gossip. Its fluid structure comprised loosely knit episodes. Distinctive in its use of language, the Naksa was generously peppered with colloquialism.
“My encounter with Hutom Pyanchar Naksa (HPN),” filmmaker Bodhaditya Bandyopadhyay writes, “dates back to my undergraduate days. Since then I was fascinated, and have… wished to work with it. Today, HPN has become a kind of form for me, a way of looking at things, a kind of critical commentary that can be appropriated and applied to any contemporary social, economic, cultural or political phenomenon, in short, the basic grid that forms the fabric of contemporary urban life.”
The film that Bandyopadhyay envisages pursues some basic ideas. Firstly, an ethnography of the public life of contemporary Kolkata – the excesses, banalities, hybrid culture and identities of the Bengali bhadralok of the present time. Secondly, filming present day Kolkata would become a means of comparing the images of the present with that of the past, the world of consumption then and now, the evolution of tastes, and the archaeology of status symbols.
Another area of focus for the film is the famous Batatala publishing industry, which thrived on sleaze and gossip and was responsible for a uniquely urban and subversive sub-literary tradition. Bandyopadhyay is also keen to include other visual traditions like the Kalighat Pata paintings, which are linked to that period. The film will, therefore operate through a multiplicity of styles and speak in many tongues.
Bandyopadhyay is a musician and songwriter as well, he will be particularly attentive to the soundscape for the film. “For me, writing songs”, he remarks, “is primarily a form of fiction writing… which has satire as its major component. So, there is an integral connection between my interests as a songwriter and the film that I want to make. I want to appropriate the plethora of musical subcultures and forms described in the text, and use them as an important narrative tool in the film. Therefore HPN will be a project where my journeys as a singer/songwriter and filmmaker will coalesce, cross-fertilising one another, and enriching and extending my practice as an artist.”
This grant was made possible with part support from Ashoke Dutt.