Room No. 15? Sorry, sir, it’s booked….No, not available for a single day.
The round dining table with three water bottles, the sofa set with a glass-top centre table, the painting of an elephant with a butterfly perched on its tusk and the framed mirror hanging from a pale wall — “Bidya” Bagchi’s room at Monalisa Guest House on Sarat Bose Road appears untouched.
The only change in the room’s kahaani is its popularity, so much so that hardly a day goes by without the guesthouse receiving a call from someone interested in booking it for the entire duration of Durga Puja.
“The calls are pouring in but a guest from Mumbai has already booked the room from Sashthi till Dashami,” manager Adhir Sahoo said.
It was around Puja 2010 that film-maker Sujoy Ghosh had checked into Monalisa with leading lady Vidya Balan to shoot Kahaani, the story of a pregnant woman who journeys from London to Calcutta in search of her missing husband during the festival.
In those few weeks, nobody associated with Kahaani or the guesthouse could have imagined that Room No. 15 would gain as much from the film as its cast and crew.
“Ever since the film hit the theatres, this room has been drawing visitors from across the country. With Puja round the corner, demand has shot up,” Sahoo said.
Even director Sujoy drops by at the guesthouse, which used to be late Barin De’s residence till 1995, whenever he is in town. “Khub bhalo khobor (Very good news),” the Kahaani maker said on learning that Room No. 15 had been sold out for the Puja period. “I made the film with the help of all these people and it’s only fair that they are all benefiting,” he told Metro.
Sujoy, who is planning a sequel to Kahaani that might require him to bring Bidya back to Room No. 15, is contemplating gifting a piece of autographed memorabilia to the guesthouse.
While finding Room No. 15 vacant is a game of dice, the guesthouse appears content with just the attention. “We have not raised the tariff. Bed tea and breakfast are still complimentary,” a staff member said.
Monalisa Guest House has 15 rooms spread across two floors but none offers a better panorama of the Calcutta outside than Bidya Bagchi’s pad. Puja guests staying in the 20x14ft room can hope to get a good view of the processions going down Sarat Bose Road on Dashami.
Someone could even spot — or imagine — Bidya clad in a red-bordered sari and trying to mingle with the crowd of faces smeared with sindoor.