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Goynar baksho

Konkona Sensharma had a full-day shoot at the studio today (October 30). The first day in Bolpur we had to shoot as the kaash wouldn’t last beyond that. Then there was this gap with Durga Puja.

Starting October 30 for almost two months, we live in Goynar Baksho, various pieces of jewellery, waiting to be worn in one supreme moment of grandeur! I was terrified as trying to maintain continuity is not easy. So what is continuity? A scene shot today may continue 20 days later, and every aspect of clothes, make-up and sets better look identical. It’s nerve-racking though it is much easier nowadays with digital cameras, laptops and super-fast printouts. They would sketch out stuff in the olden days. But I feel totally challenged. I sit with sheets of paper, printouts, Excel sheets, camera, laptop... totally lost as I am seriously tech-challenged. Finally, hard-copy printouts save the day.

Much as I love non-linear narrative on screen, the same method in making a masterpiece is quite unnerving. I mean it’s sheer torture, as you begin in the end and there is no sense of chronology whatsoever. But that is how time is slotted, dates are balanced and locations are utilised. So today we shot what is close to the middle of the film — Scene 44. Thorough knowledge of the script by all is crucial. What happened before/what after? It is like a damned quiz!

A demure Somlata (Konkona), talking to Chandan (Saswata Chatterjee). It is night and Somlata, demure as she may be externally, is in reality an enterprising young girl, trying to turn around the family fortunes. Her husband Chandan is a simpleton. It is 1949. Goynar Baksho is not a contemporary film, with babes in short skirts and layered eye make-up. It is not about fancy locations or foot-tapping music. It is a period film, ending in 1971.

A beautifully-created set takes one back in time, where stained glass reflects warm tones, flames flicker in lamps throwing mellow hues, while intricate props embellish antique furniture, a dark red floor and stained walls. A heavy four-poster bed dominates the room which is cluttered with exquisite detail. There must be a few hundred elements in that room, and all add to the feel. The impact of chiaroscuro enhances the sense of an old painting, as hidden shadows throw light upon carefully placed objects, heightening the sense of drama. So much happens in this bedroom! Fear, expectation, suspicion, doubt, love, affection and more. Konkona and Saswata effortlessly play roles that don’t belong to them as a large part of the story unfolds in this bedroom.

But ‘All the world’s a stage’ and I too am playing a role. I mean what the hell do I know about costumes? I am learning though, trying to fit all types of clothes on actors of a varied range. I’m struggling, trying to figure out the difference between a panjabi, a babu genji, a fatua and a Bangla Shirt!

Each time a character is given a grand send-off to the floor, I take a final look, ticking my checklist. This is how it goes — hair, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, ears, nose, lips, chin, neck, state of the make-up, clothes, accessories which include jewellery, shoes, bags, maybe a walking stick, could be a bag… it is never-ending. And then there will be days when there are multiple characters, and all will have to be cleared as per their final looks as okayed by the director (Aparna Sen). I am so looking forward to those days which will totally challenge my grey cells, eye for detail and patience. Actually, it is largely about patience. About looking into every mm of every bit of space, every bit of an actor and the various dynamics of the characters.

Nothing can be missed. This is cinema.