Filmmaker Anik Datta’s directorial venture Joto Kando Kolkatatei comes in two parts. The lead character Saba (played by Bangladeshi actress Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed) comes from Dhaka to Calcutta in search of her roots and gets involved in a mystery. She is helped by Topshe (played by Abir Chatterjee) in solving a puzzle and the mystery. Both of them are Feluda fans and the story is peppered with references and Easter eggs of the famous fictional sleuth. This takes them to Darjeeling and Kurseong. Shot partly in the hills of North Bengal but mostly in Calcutta, the film traverses between two periods — the present day and the 1960s, for the back story. Datta spoke to t2 about the shoot of Joto Kando Kolkatate after it was wrapped up a few days ago.
Having fallen seriously ill while on a recce tour of the hills in and around Darjeeling, Datta said that he was unable to visit the hills for the principal shoot that happened in November. His poor health also constrained him to miss being on the shooting floor on some of the days when scenes were being filmed in Calcutta as well. “It is unthinkable to me that I was not present for some days during the shoot,” he ruefully said. “I am always there at every stage, prep to post-shoot. I love the act of filmmaking. But I was forced to do something that I had never done before. Sadly, I had to accept it after a while and learn to be okay with it, but it was painful otherwise,” Datta added with regret in his voice.
He however always managed to keep abreast of developments on the work front and was constantly in touch with his team, giving instructions, advising them and solving the big and small troubles associated with any film shoot.
Shooting in Calcutta was spread over several locations. “One of the main places was an old house in Beleghata, locally known as Barrister Bari (barrister’s house). We also shot in St John’s Church in the Dalhousie area, apart from many other interesting places. The Trincas shoot (t2 coverage in September 23 edition) where we recreated the iconic restaurant as it used to be in the ’60s, was the first one we did for this film,” Datta said. Roja Paromita Dey played the crooner and Rik Chatterjee the young second lead.
It was more than a nostalgia and heritage trip for the cast and crew as they also shot at prestigious and prominent addresses. “Most of the antique shops and auction houses are closing down, but we shot at The Russel Exchange which is still there”. Datta was wistful as he continued, “I made sure to put it in the script so that at least some memory of it always remains in the film. We shot at the well-known eatery Oh! Calcutta and Tribe Café. We had considered shooting in Bow Barracks, but unfortunately, that plan fell through at the last moment and we had no option but to recreate that scene in a studio. This film is special because it captures so many of the city’s celebrated landmarks that I had always hoped to shoot and make a part of my films,” he said.
Anik Datta expressed his indebtedness to his associate director Amit Basu, chief assistant director Dhrubojyoti Rakshit and DoP Indranath Marik along with the HoDs and each member of the core team, who did their best to make up for his absence during the shooting of Joto Kando Kolkatatei.
The shoot in the hills centred mostly around Kurseong and in a dilapidated, abandoned old church there. The crew recreated an infirmary and a charitable hospital at Mount Hermon School in Darjeeling. They also took shots on the Mall and in Glenary’s (a bakery). A very important sequence was done at a place called Gidda Hills where there are tea gardens.
On his experience of directing Abir Chatterjee for this film, he said: “Abir is a really easy-going guy. I have directed him earlier in Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo. He is a pleasure to work with.” Others like Dulal Lahiri and Aparajita Ghosh are also part of the cast of this film.
The film, whose shooting was completed in less than a month, is now in its initial stage of post-production. It is being edited by Arghyakamal Mitra, who has edited all of Datta’s films. However, with three more films from the same producer (Firdausul Hasan) already in queue, Joto Kando Kolkatatei is expected to hit theatres not earlier than Durga Puja of 2024. Until then, it’s going to be a long and impatient wait for Anik Datta aficionados.