It has been almost a month after Jio MAMI 2018Jio MAMI 2018, and it is now that I am writing about the Bird of Dusk. This is because the overall experience was so mesmerizing and inspiring, that my brain desperately needed sufficient time, to absorb it, in order to pen them in words. It was after all a #fangirlmoment for me. All my life, I haven’t even dreamed of meeting the Associate Director, and one of the close friends of director Rituparno Ghosh, director Sangeeta Datta!
The man, who means so much to me! The man, so close to my heart that I can go overboard about him anytime, anywhere!
Image: Amino Apps
When I first heard about the Bird of Dusk, from my senior cum mentor (who also happens to be the editor of the film) I felt excited about the project, simply because it was about Ghosh. I had little idea about the director or the crew or any of the core members of the film. Naturally, I expected it to be a boring documentary about his life or so.
Unlike my senior, Mr. Subhajit Prasad, who calls himself an independent filmmaker, I am more interested in fiction. Well, we already have the mundane daily routine. So, I feel we need some Unicorns and a dash of magic to spread some positivism around. So, documentaries often bore me, unless they are as spine-chilling as Night and Fog.
In fact, this is also my primary area of difference with Prasad, and we are poles apart. If he is more into non-fiction, I am totally into fiction; if he is into romantic comedies or say action genre, I am more of a dark person interested in psychological thrillers! But, this film is more than just an ordinary documentary! This film was more of a spiritual lesson for me. I could see a reflection of myself in multiple ways through the film.
Image: Bollywood Journalist
Honestly, even I have spent 28 years, asking myself the same questions again and again! And often I lacked enough clarity to answer those questions, which Ghosh did boldly, in front of the entire world. He spoke boldly about the futility of human lives; he spoke about the true purpose of an artist or a creator. When I watched him speaking those words in the darkroom, I felt tremendously empowered, and needless to say inspired. I felt, even though I might have watched that interview or that footage earlier, but they are worth viewing more than once. They are worth viewing almost every day; and the compilation of the interview footages worth special deserve here.
Then there were those sections of that film, which mellowed my heart. “ Bonomali tumi, poro jonome hoyo radha..” played in background, and I could feel my heart pounding. It evoked so many emotions in me that I literally wanted to run out of the theater to calm down myself. I could see a reflection of myself in the screen, and that scared me. I am not strong enough, like the genius personality; to be able to show up in front of the entire world, and admit that I do not fit in.
“Fitting in” is all we have been trying to do, all our lives, even though we know, that we all are queer, in some ways or the other. And what happens when we fail to “fit in?” This fear of failure scare most of us and, we give up.
Image: The Indian Express
In short, the film talks pretty much about everything. From unrequited love to handling rejection; from (potential as well as ongoing) challenges of an artist to gender confusion or identity crisis; from creators block to self-redemption. After all, the film is all about a genius mind. A mind, that was capable of spreading a lot of love and positivity across the globe.
Unfortunately, despite his repeated urges for acceptance, the cruel world turned him down. He became a lonely and depressed soul. But, he never gave up. He connected with the like-minded people, the womenfolks.
I have always admired the man, for his women characters. However, when I first watched “Chokher Bali,” at a very tender age, I felt really angry with the director. I really loved the way Tagore portrayed the character of Binodini. A soul, so innocent, pure yet full of love! She was crafted with extra delicacy and thus she emerged as sheer perfection for me. At my sixth grade, I wanted to be as perfect as Binodini. So, I felt really uncomfortable to peep into her actual character or her desires. But, that was somehow how I grew more interested in Bengali films, particularly Ghosh’s.
By the time I started pursuing Masters in Film Studies, at Jadavpur University, I turned into a huge fan of not only director Rituparno Ghosh, or the youth icon but also the copywriter, the designer Rituparno Ghosh. I was working as a part-time copywriter at that time and I realized the importance of brevity and precision in the advertising industry! 😛
So, the moment I saw the trailer of the Bird of Dusk, I became desperate to watch this film. Needless to say, my senior knew how much I adore the man and that writing a 20 marks essay on director Rituparno Ghosh’s contribution in Bengali Cinemas actually fetched me the admission in Jadavpur University :-p. So, he invited me to watch the film at JIO MAMI 2018 and I went into a trance-like state.
Almost after spending two years in my dream city, Mumbai, working in my favorite profession (Research and Script Writing), I missed my city for the first time ever. How ironical it was for me, to experience the craze of Kolkata International Film Festival, sitting comfortably in a multiplex in Mumbai. Mumbai Multiplexes, during MAMI, function perfectly, unlike the massive mismanagement sessions that occur in Kolkata during KIFF.
But, Oh boy! That craze, that crowd, running from one theater to the next (because the theaters are thankfully close enough in Kolkata) within the scheduled time. The food, the festive vibe, the extravaganza! We need to dress up in sarees and bindis because the festival is here! The biggest festival, for most of the Bengalis residing in Kolkata, is undoubtedly, KIFF, after Durgapuja ;-).
Then the pictorial views of my university literally gave me goosebumps. I realized how badly I wanted to walk through those corridors, to touch the bench and to sit in those classrooms!
I take a lot of pride about the fact, that our department of Film Studies is just next to where genius minds like Amartya Sen, Rituparno Ghosh, and even the director Sangeeta Mam once used to sit and generate ideas. Well, it all starts from the classrooms after all! I consider myself immensely fortunate because I have the permission to enter that iconic building of Arts, of Jadavpur University for my entire life.
Images: Wikimedia Commons
The green zones and the other parts of the campus, however, continue to open gates for anyone who wants to think, read, contemplate, exchange ideas or knowledge and to create, while experiencing the eco-friendly environment and soothing their eyes watching the lotus or the lilies.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
So, I am really lucky and proud, to be a very tiny part of the incredible journey of the director Sangeeta ma’am and I also envy my senior, because he has been an integral part of the film. He was rather nervous. He didn’t realize the fact, that he was creating a history with the masters! A work to be cherished lifelong; a brief journey to be treasured forever!
As for my senior, I think this is one of his best works till date. As his student, I had the opportunity to roam around the City of Joy for late night shoots, and I felt awestruck at the beauty of my own city. Every city has its own character, and my mentor has taught me how and where to find them. In this film, he has shown the audiences, exactly as he sees the city of Kolkata . ‘The same places, mundane streets can turn into incredible tales if you have the eyes’ is what he taught me for two years and he showed them exactly in this film.
I found myself incredibly blessed that evening, to have the opportunity of dining with a charismatic personality, the director, Sangeeta ma’am (I am addressing her as ma’am because she is super senior to me) and I could only speak so little. I felt I wanted to listen to her more; about her experiences, her pain, her challenges as a woman filmmaker in India. What kept her going to stay this strong and to be able to fight back the challenges that came her way? I wanted answers, and I came back to listen to her Question-Answer session again the next day, and the next day as well!
Image: The Pioneer
As we all know, it is really difficult to release a documentary commercially in India, and unless you release your work, how do ordinary people like us access them! So, they took up this incredible task of initiating a change. Why do we all get to know that documentaries don’t have a market in India? Good documentaries have far-reaching effects that merely informing an audience. It is capable of evoking almost a spiritual experience among the audiences as this one did, in case of me.
So, even though it is too late and the film is doing fairly well all over the world (it is going to almost all the festivals across the globe) I am writing this post to urge the Indian audiences, to catch the film as it reaches your nearby theaters shortly. I am sure most of the Bengalis, are eager for its theatrical release in Kolkata. And for the Bengalis settled abroad, you must not give it a miss, because you will literally drool over the amazing views of the city during the festive seasons. Not to mention, there are enough shots of Durgapuja and idol immersion, to keep you going for the next few years! 😛
And, if you want to re-live my experiences at the JIO MAMI 2018, or listen to the amazing discussion sessions with the director or any other really important people, (who are an integral part of the film) you may check out this video!
I actually shot a few parts of her interview in my iPhone, so I know they are worth listening again and again. Lastly, I want to congratulate the entire team of the Bird of Dusk for their incredible creation and thank them for making me a tiny part of it!