| Aishwarya Rai launches a tulip named after her at a news conference in Amsterdam. (AP)
Amsterdam, June 10: Dutch folk and bar music gave way to Rabindrasangeet late last night, as the strains of Phoole phoole dhole dhole resonated across the 650-year-old Pathe Tuschinski theatre.
The world premiere film of this year’s IIFA Awards, director Pradeep Sarkar and writer-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s celluloid adaptation of the Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay classic Parineeta, was shown at all the six screens of the heritage theatre at the Amsterdam Centre to a standing ovation.
The audience included Dutch dignitaries, the cr'me de la cr'me of Bollywood and the global media, coming from as far away as Fiji, China and Egypt.
Kicking off with Sonar Bangla ami tomay bhalobashi, Parineeta breathed Bengal and lived Calcutta ' from Ray and Tagore to Flury’s and Moulin Rouge.
What started out as Chopra’s tribute to his “favourite author Saratbabu” and his film-school teacher Ritwik Ghatak turned into a visual showcase of Calcutta of the 1960s with the storyline ' sticking strictly to the original novel ' a parallel narrative of the turbulent times the city was going through.
“The original novel was set in early 20th century but we decided to bring the time period forward so that everyone could identify,” Chopra said.
“We could have set the film at any time but I wanted to show the characters going through the same crisis as Calcutta did in the early 1960s. We also could have made the same film on the sets of Mumbai at a much cheaper budget but I wanted to give the world a real flavour of the city.”
The Saif Ali Khan-Sunjay Dutt-starrer ' shot in Calcutta in November last year ' starts and ends with Amitabh Bachchan’s commentary, which introduces the time and space Parineeta is set in and also rounds off the two-hour-seven-minute period piece.
“I was staying in Calcutta during those years and I found the film to show the city exactly the way it was those days,” said Bachchan.
While the music by Shantanu Moitra used Rabindrasangeet in moments of pain and pleasure, the swing sequence featuring Lolita (an effortless Vidya Balan) and the tree-axing montage took you back instantly to Ray’s Charulata and Sadgati. The birthday cake came from Flury’s while the late-night party happened at Moulin Rouge, not to mention the frequent references to Coffee House and Park Street.
Apart from the hordes of Bengali actors in the cast ' Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Raima Sen led the list, with Biplab Chatterjee, Kharaj Mukherjee and Haradhan Bandopadhyay giving them company ' there were the quintessential Calcutta touches of phuchka-eating, sandesh-sharing and the celebrated dhunuchi naach at Durga Puja.
For adman-turned-director Pradeep Sarkar, it was a return to his youth. “It was very easy and comfortable for me to show Calcutta of the 1960s as I was there myself at that time. I wanted to show the city in a way never seen before.”