Manikbabur Megh (The Cloud and the Man), directed by debutant director Abhinandan Banerjee and produced by Bauddhayan Mukherji and Monalisa Mukherji, has been honoured with the official selection for screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2022. The week-long film festival, starting August 12 and continuing till August 20, is a gala global affair that will screen films by UK and international film-makers. This Kolkata-based, 30-year-old director’s debut film has already been screened at quite a few festivals since last year and brought home some laurels, too, including Best Asian Film NETPAC Award at the 27th Kolkata International Film Festival 2021.
Bauddhayan Mukherji and Abhinandan Banerjee
Using monochrome cinematography, the film depicts on screen an unusual story of a cloud following the protagonist Manik, an ordinary office worker. Kolkata gets captured beautifully with its soul and spirit in this lonely man’s tale, scripted with a surreal touch to the story. “The philosophy of my film-making is I believe in the universal language of cinema. It transcends all boundaries and barriers. My language is the language of image and sound primarily. Eventually, I could make a film like that and the film getting celebrated and accepted universally at such prestigious film festivals is obviously hopeful and a kind of validation to the idea of my own understanding of film-making. As a director, everything is special in the journey of making the first film. I feel proud of my language Bangla and my own land. The imagery of the film is based on this city and people at festivals all around the world are loving it. They are telling us that after the golden age of Bengali cinema, they are getting to see Kolkata again like this. This is very exciting for us,” said Abhinandan.
The prestigious Edinburgh International Film Festival, which is also one of the world’s oldest continually running film festivals, has previously screened notable Bengali language films like Devi and Aryaner Din Ratri by Satyajit Ray, Meghe Dhaka Tara and Titas Ekti Nadir Naam by Ritwik Ghatak and Nirjan Saikate and Wheel Chair by Tapan Sinha. The screening of Abhinandan’s film at the festival’s 75th anniversary edition has definitely added a feather in its cap. “We chose to make this film because nobody else would. The story is very unusual and caters to a very niche audience. This is a kind of film that needs to coexist along with huge box office successes. That’s when a film industry becomes an industry. If we hadn’t, then this film possibly would not have been made. Edinburgh has always played a big role in a lot of young film-makers’ lives. It has been an important stop. We would like to release the film for India and the Indian diaspora outside the country soon,” said Bauddhayan Mukherji, film director, who debuted in production with this film along with his wife Monalisa Mukherji, who has produced films before.
Manikbabur Megh’s UK premiere will be screened as a part of the Heartbreakers Strand on August 13 and 18 at Filmhouse Cinema 3. The trailer released online gives a glimpse of Manik’s character being portrayed by the inimitable Chandan Sen. The other cast members include Bratya Basu, Debesh Roy, Nimai Ghosh and Arun Guhathakurta. “The journey of this film travelling to festivals started last year in November and continues still. Representing India at a festival as big as this, which has been hosted for the last 75 years… representing Bengal is obviously a moment of pride for me as a film-maker, director and writer,” added Abhinandan.