Satyajit Ray’s documentary film ‘Sikkim’ shooting-Cinematographer Soumendu Roy shares his experience

Kolkata, Nov 12 (Calcutta Tube) The shooting of the documentary ‘Sikkim‘ with legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray was a lifetime experience, feels cinematographer Soumendu Roy.

‘Shooting ‘Sikkim’ with Satyjit Ray was a lifetime experience. I had earlier worked with Ray but for ‘Sikkim’ we had to work with very minimal equipment and human resources,’ Roy told IANS.

‘During the shooting, we always had to stay alert. The experience helped me later while shooting other films,’ Roy said after the first public screening of the documentary at the 16th Kolkata Film Festival here Thursday.

The documentary is about the natural beauty of Sikkim and the innocence and simplicity of its people. It is about the way of living of its people.

The opening sequence evokes the beauty of the land, beginning with a shot of a parallel ropeway with two carriages advancing towards each other. Ray himself has done the commentary in the film, which also tells the viewers a brief history of Sikkim.

The 77-year-old veteran cinematographer walked down the memory lane when asked about the most memorable experience during the shooting of ‘Sikkim’.

‘I still remember a scene when we had to shoot in an area which was full of bushes and jungles. The locals told us that the place was full of leeches. We were so engulfed in the shooting that we didn’t take any protective measures,’ Roy said.

‘But after we came back from the shooting, we found that leeches were sticking to most of our body parts. We lost a lot of blood for shooting this film,’ he giggled.

Made by Satyajit Ray in 1971, the documentary was banned by the external affairs ministry in 1975 when Sikkim merged with India.

It was commissioned by the last Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, and his America-born queen Hope Cooke. It was soon banned by the Indian government and remained in the cans after that.

The hour-long screening of the movie at Nandan auditorium gave a clear picture of the socio-economic and socio-religious culture of Sikkim in the early 1970s.

The documentary also has a sequence of a gala feast and cultural programme at King’s Palace, which was attended by the king and other dignitaries. The general public was also seen attending the feast.

But within minutes of the first public screening of ‘Sikkim’, its remaining shows during the event were suspended following a direction by a Sikkim court.

An order of the district judge court of Gangtok has forced the festival authorities here to suspend the scheduled screening of the documentary.

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