December 28, 2010, Kolkata/Tollywood (Calcutta Tube): In the world of the box office that is more uncertain than the rise and fall of the Sensex, Sandip Ray’s Feluda Bengali films always hit the bull’s eye. They invite a family audience as child fans of Feluda stories love to watch. Their parents who have been nourished on Feluda tales also come to watch. The senior ones are no exception. His Gorosthane Sabdhan is attracting serpentine queues outside all Kolkata theatres where the film released last week. The younger Ray, who shook off the haunting shadow of his great father long ago, is understandably thrilled.
FELUDA FILM GOROSTHANE SABDHANE is releasing in the USA in January 2011. Check Databazaar Media Ventures website for further details.
How do you react to the wonderful response to your film?
The response is yet to sink in. Feelers are coming in from across the country and this is a very happy thing for any filmmaker to experience within the first week of the film’s release. We are about to release a sub-titled print in Bangalore in another couple of weeks. Other zones might open up too. Feluda stories, though essentially Bengali in character, are universal as he keeps travelling from place to place to solve mysteries that involve intrigue, action and adventure so it can appeal to all kinds of audience.
Has the acquisition of the distribution rights of Gorosthane Sabdhaan in North America by Databazar Media Ventures been a happy piece of news?
It is a redundant question because every director wants his film to reach out to as wide an audience as possible – culturally, geographically, linguistically and emotionally. I am not really very familiar with the logistics of this acquisition yet but yes, if this means the film will be exhibited to a NRI and US audience through the auspices of DMV, it is wonderful news.
All the Feluda stories you have filmed till now move out of Kolkata to other places. Gorosthane Sabdhan remains rooted firmly in Kolkata. What made you choose this story over others?
It was more the audience that decided my choice than anything else. The feedback I got from the audience was majorly in favour of Gorosthane Sabdhan. I think they felt they would be able to identify with Feluda better if they saw him within their own city. Besides, this particular Kolkata-centric Feluda story is novel in many ways. The novel has a lot of information and general knowledge about the city scattered within the story and the script that does not take away the element of entertainment. They are very integral to the story.
Was the time-leap of 33 years since the novel was published in 1977 a necessary change?
Yes. It was a necessary change. It was perhaps the biggest challenges I had to face. I did not wish to change anything within the content and yet had to accommodate the time-leap to 2010. The city had changed drastically over the years, while some streets like the pockets of Ripon Street had changed but the flavour has sustained. I discovered that it was impossible to recreate the Calcutta, as it was then known as, of the late 1970s. When Baba wrote the story, the Park Street graveyard was a scary place. It was a rather shady spot filled with drug addicts and traders in smuggled and stolen goods. Today however, having been taken over by the Christian Burial Board, it is in a process of restoration that has become a beautiful historical landmark with neo-classical sculptures.
by Shoma A. Chatterji
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