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Goynar Baksho

It is 5 in the morning at Bharat Lakshmi Studio and we are still shooting. It has been almost 24 hours. Physically we are all exhausted, but mentally everyone is alert. We can’t afford to miss out on anything. There are targets to be met and shots to be completed. Rinadi (Aparna Sen), Moushumi Chatterjee, Konkona (Sensharma), Saswata (Chatterjee), Pijush (Ganguly) and many of us have been shooting through the night. We are almost done.

In Bharat Lakshmi Studio, the art department has created a market — Notunbajaar in Nawabgunj. With the look and feel of the early 1950s, there is also a sari shop in this market owned by Konkona. This sari shop has been my abode for the last three days. I have been folding, unfolding, stacking, unstacking, piling, dislodging... a thousand saris. With each shot, saris have to be replaced, balanced, draped, laid out, and swirled around. Colour schemes, textures, weaves are whirling in my head. It seems like this is my very own sari shop.

Dhakai Jamdani, Benarasi, Baluchari, Bishnupuri, Shantipuri, Tangail, Dhonekhali, Begumbahaar, Farashdanga, Hazaar Buti, Khejur Chhara, Khorke Dure. Cotton, silk, weaves, light and heavy. Violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, olive, vermilion, chrome yellow, burnt sienna, azure, black, white and shades of grey! All from Bengal. Enmeshed in these weaves, Pishima (Moushumi), Somlata (Konkona) and all of us are realising our dreams.

There are several sequences within this shop, a riot of colours. One such scene is set to beat and rhythm, with a musical twist, where Konkona and Saswata impress customers. Another shows Sudipta Chakraborty as Kamala, the heart-throb of Nawabgunj, greedily almost buying out the entire shop. Sudipta, dressed in hot pink and green, demands the attention of the lens. In a confident sweep, she walks through Notunbajaar, turning the heads of children, women and leering men. Late at night we see Moushumi Chatterjee inside Rashmoni Stores, creating a spooky montage.

In the morning we worked with around 100 junior artistes trying to give Notunbajaar an authentic feel. There were five of us trying to dress up 100-odd people of various age groups. They walked the streets, ate jalebis, bought vegetables, rode cycles, had haircuts, and posted letters. It looked so real on the monitor, but we spent almost two hours just choreographing the moves and timing. Action meant many moving simultaneously in different directions. It was tricky.

Special effects enhance the storyline of all films. We live in the era of digital revolution as images are created out of nothing. It isn’t as simple as it sounds though. Ashok Chowdhury (originally from Bengal) is here from Bombay for special effects. The same man who created the enthralling kite fight in Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife. Ashok taught me how it is all about mathematics — calculations and precision. I have tried to understand a bit of this between shots, as he has shown me some mind-blowing stuff on his phone, on how images are created digitally. How hundreds of layers are created over hours, days, and sometimes months, to present the audience with real, unreal and fantastic images and movements. Right now he is measuring the inside of Rashmoni Stores, working on intricate details to create magic that will mesmerise.

It is about realising dreams. But so much of real is required to fulfil any dream. Real people, real props, real space and real time. Then it is the role of the digital to overtake reality, recreating hopes, aspirations, the past, present and the future. To make something out of nothing. To evoke the imagination, to think, to feel, to touch. To carry on. To fight. To dare to be wildly impossible. To challenge limitations. To be extraordinary.

I have such immense respect for all around me who have travelled for hours by train to play a small role in one scene, because they are passionate about their profession. People who have managed to convert their daily struggle into fun. So many who for years have mastered their craft. Human beings with superhuman talents and abilities and faith. I realise that cinema is about HOPE.

Roll camera, sound, action!