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Documentor of Tricolour dream
Tanaji Sengupta.

He has made documentary films on historic and relevant issues, of which he is the researcher, director, narrator and producer. No mean feat, and the lack of support from outside sources, financial or otherwise, has never eterred Tanaji Sengupta. The freelance camera and editing professional determinedly soldiers on, because his hobby gives him the satisfaction he needs.

After working for years with a private Bengali television channel, Sengupta decided to strike out on his own. The 34-year-old’s first film in 1996 was centred around the trials that sight-impaired people, especially children, face with Braille education, particularly in West Bengal with only one Braille press in Narendrapur. Hence, the limitations in available material.

“I loved it from the first moment,” smiles Sengupta, while recounting his tribulations in the process. A few of his films have been bought by Doordarshan and aired several times, helping the maker recover some of his costs.

His latest film, made last year in collaboration with Anjana Bandopadhyay, was about arsenic-contaminated water in the state. He toured Barasat, Malda, Deganga and North 24-Parganas, where people still have to survive on drinking water laced with arsenic. The history of the harmonium, which Sengupta documented in 2002, was, however, his own project.

“The problem with documentary films and film-makers in West Bengal is that they receive very little support or recognition,” the man from Maniktala says. “Even in other places in India, documentaries are considered an important and respected media. But in Calcutta, it is a very daunting prospect, making and marketing a documentary film.”

Pataka, Sengupta’s current project in progress, is a film on the evolution of the Indian flag, which relates the history of this country through the symbol of the flag. “I hope to make this in three languages — Bengali, Hindi and English — so that I can take it all over the country,” he adds.

The research began late in 1998, when he accidentally came across a book recounting a brief history of the Tricolour. After more than three years, it is now finally in the filming process, and Sengupta hopes to release it on August 15 this year.

Constantly educating himself is also a passion. Although he has edited his works when filmed with analogue cameras, he is now picking up the digital medium. In the meantime, a friend in the industry is helping him in that department.

“I just want people to know that documentaries are not boring, but in fact fascinating. That is my aim, and I hope to accomplish it. Help is always welcome, though,” Sengupta concludes.

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