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The jewel diary

Bawali Rajbari. At 4am we reached this unknown destination, draped in shadows and mist. As the mist lifted slowly a majestic structure revealed itself with Doric pillars. Legend goes that the family to who this property belonged originally was a general in Akbar’s army. Once long ago he put down a deadly rebellion in these parts. That’s when he was given land across Bengal and started his own business. Out of the four Parganas given, Bawali was part of the Magura Pargana. The family of Vaishnavs still have their temple right next door, with a deity that is ageless. This stunning property is only an hour away from Calcutta.

In Bawali, we shot a part of a wedding sequence. The entire family has gathered to welcome the bride. Once again a scene with multiple actors and movements from several angles. Fireworks, flames, lights, women running down steps.

Many of the scenes shot are about Love! That four-letter word which has ruled the earth for ages. Antony-Cleopatra, Radha-Krishna, Heer-Ranjha.... The list is endless. Love in Goynar Baksho is seen in many forms. Forbidden love, legal love, desired love, idealistic love, physical love, marriage with its layers and shades, dreams, adulations. The challenges of attraction, of diversion, of vows, and temptations.

Today we have travelled to Murshidabad. The fourth house to complete the Mitra family residence. These are outdoor shots beside the river. The arrival of the bride by boat, the family welcoming her, the steep steps of the ghat. The camera doing a balancing act on a boat.

This is the first time I’ve crossed the Ganga at 4 in the morning; 120 of us, the entire unit across the river in the dark, with a cold wind blowing. Yet another beautiful house and all of us preparing for another make-believe situation. After a long time I was witnessing rituals of a traditional Bengali wedding, which are rare nowadays. Dainty feet dipped in dudhe aalta, boron, trousseau, garlands, topor-mukut. So much of care and detailing to achieve perfection, to translate imagination into cinema.

Tomorrow we go to Bolpur, back to where we began. This time we move into a different zone, a different phase of time, politically, socially, historically. We will shoot the first three scenes of the film, in the last three days. Everything lopsided, without method it would seem. Non-linear. Like life. Never chronological, always surprising.

Art, time and life — always improvising!