Where to find the real Kolkata? Well, you sure have to be in the city to know it from within. But, for the ones who find it better to sit at home and watch a movie to know about places – you sure good options with you. Don’t you agree that movies are the best options to know places next to travelling? You’ll find the streets of Kolkata in many a movie or maybe a dhoti-clad man smoking a cigarette and reading the newspaper or a lady wearing the sari in the style of a Bengali.
It’s not uncommon and I will give you six examples from movies where you will find real Kolkata and its people:
6. Kahaani (2012)
This is a recent film directed by Sujoy Ghosh and stars Vidya Balan. The movie is almost entirely shot in Kolkata and people living in Kolkata have greatly appreciated the efforts of the film maker in being successful in portraying Kolkata in its real form. The streets, the trams, the metro, the dark alleys, Durga Puja and almost everything looks and feels Kolkata. It’s a laudable effort by the director to make the place look real since many film makers often take out the essence of a state or city by focusing only on the story.
5. Raincoat (2004)
This is a film made by Rituparno Ghosh, the Bengali film maker who died last year. It stars Ajay Devgn and Aishwarya Rai who have very deglamourised roles here. It’s a love story based on O. Henry’s short story The Gift of the Magi, which is partly shot outside Kolkata. The part of Kolkata, which is shown is mostly under rainfall and therefore the streets visible are blurred. But what you see in those scenes actually reflects Kolkata when it rains and hardly anything is visible. This is a must watch for you to know about rainy Kolkata.
4. Jukti, Takko Aar Gappo (English: Reason, Debate and a Story) (1974)
This 1974 film was directed by the maverick film maker Ritwik Ghatak. He is one of the pioneers of cinema in Bengal and among the best in India. This film also stars him and is known to be partially autobiographical. You have heard about the Naxalite movement in Bengal and the amount of political troubles that arose due to it – this is your scope to find out the Kolkata during the Naxalite movement.
3. Noukadubi (Hindi: Kashmakash) (2011)
This film is also directed by Rituparno Ghosh. He was a pioneer in period films and all bear an essence of Bengal and its attributes. It will be fruitful for those of you who are interested in Kolkata to know more about the history of the city and how it used to be many years ago. This film is based in the 1920s on Rabindranath Tagore’s story of the same name. The plight of widows and of old people and also of the ones against whom any kind of crime took place is vividly portrayed through this movie. The costumes used in this movie are elaborate and will give you a clear idea about the dressing style of Bengalis.
2. Mahanagar (English: The Big City) (1963)
This is a Bengali drama directed by Satyajit Ray who is considered to be the best film maker in India. The city that is referred in the name is unquestionably Kolkata and the ways of living in the city. It shows the condition of middle class people who were slowly recovering from their ancestral hangover and trying to work and earn money for their family after the partition and independence. It shows the city as one with many opportunities and that to get into the corporate culture you have to morph yourself accordingly which is not an easy task.
1. Do Bigha Zameen (1953)
Bimal Roy’s masterpiece Do Bigha Zameen is considered to be one of the best movies ever made in India. It has its backdrop in Bengal. The film portrays the ill effects of commercialization by showing how a plot of land is snatched away from the protagonist for business purposes. He never manages to get his own land back, not even a handful of the earth. The Kolkata shown here is that which is slowly getting industrialized and privatized. Do watch this movie to get a feel of the Bengali thoughts on land acquisition and industrialization.