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From Troy to town, on jute trail
- Scottish actor shoots documentary

Emmy-winning Scottish actor Brian Cox, a familiar face in Hollywood blockbusters, is in the city tracing the route of his countrymen to the jute mills by the Hooghly.

Cox, who has Braveheart, Rob Roy, Troy, the Bourne series and a Golden Globe nomination to his credit, started shooting in Calcutta and its outskirts on Sunday as the anchor of a documentary to be shown on BBC.

Titled Brian Cox’s Jute Journey, the hour-long film focuses on Scots who travelled from Dundee in Scotland to the city to work in the jute mills between the late-1800s and the 1960s.

“The subject of the documentary is very close to my heart. My family, including my mother, worked in a jute mill back home. It’s a part of my life and my heritage,” the 62-year-old film and theatre actor told Metro on Sunday evening after a hectic day of shooting at the Scottish Cemetery in Park Circus and St Andrews Church at Dalhousie Square.

Cox and the crew will be shooting around Writers’ Buildings, in Barrackpore and at various jute mills over the next four days.

“When I saw the huge barges with mounds of jute on the Hooghly, it set things into perspective because this is what I have been familiar with since childhood,” said the actor who is on his second visit to Calcutta.

“I first came to the city in 1981 for a performance of Macbeth. I thought it was a wonderful city with its bustle and noise. I am glad that it has remained the same, save for a couple of highrise buildings.”

During that visit, the actor had met Satyajit Ray, who he described as “one of the greatest filmmakers of all time”.

“I have watched a lot of his films, of which Pather Panchali, Charulata and the Apu trilogy influenced me and my art to a great extent. His films were very real, dealing with real people and real situations,” said Cox.

The actor is also all praise for Naseeruddin Shah with whom he shared screen space last year in Jagmohan Mundhra’s Shoot on Sight. “He is a wonderful actor and I had a great time making the film. Pity it wasn’t distributed well,” rued Cox.

He is open to more Indian cinema (“I loved Slumdog Millionaire”) but Bollywood doesn’t cut ice with him.

“My sensibilities are geared more towards Bengali cinema than towards preposterous Bollywood fare,” he laughed.

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