Chronicle of an AmnesiacBhultir Khero
JAPAN / 2007 / Bengali / Color / Video / 30 min
Director: Anirban Datta
Photography: Amlan Datta
Sound Recording: Sanjib Saha
Sound Mixing: Doi Naotaka
Sound Design: Subhodeep Sengupta, Maruyama Takayuki
Music: Pradip Chatterjee
Online Editor: Mizunuma Haruhisa
In association with: Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, Nilotpal Majumdar
Executive Producer: Kotani Ryota
Production Company, Source: NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
World Sales: MICO (Media International Corporation)
”Calcutta“ was known as “the flower of Bengal” in the days of the British Empire. Guided by the words of a 92-year old veteran of the independence movement, the Kolkata-born director captures the fading vestiges and atmosphere of the city. A “monkey man” leads his monkey and the camera through the city streets, where the sound of spinning wheels can be heard coming from the alleyways, and the calls of street vendors and the performance of a voice mimic echo off the walls of old buildings. The film evokes the faint fragrance of Kolkata that lingers in these fragments of memory. Originally broadcast by the NHK HD channel in its “Heat of India” series in 2007.
[Director’s Statement] It’s a memoir in the backdrop of the benchmark transformation India witnessed over the last couple of decades, through the traces of some of the vanishing subcultures, counter-posed to the typical and homogeneous images of post-colonial progress and development. And it’s centered on my city, the city of Kolkata, and its labyrinth of colonial history remaining deep-seated in its aged inhabitants, decaying architecture, and the Old Town, which is largely unkempt and left aside.
From the inception of the idea, I was trying to capture the history of this colorful city through the fragments that remain in the present, through the textures and remnants that can open the magic gate to the past, connecting us with the lost memories of our forgotten ancestry. How can one record the past? Recording eternally belongs to the present tense. The idea remained very abstract. One day in a shanty tea stall, I and my musician friend Bula da (Pradip Chatterjee) came across a ninety-year old man who was looking for a job. We were really astounded. As we talked to him, a down-and-out living chronicle of the lost city and forgotten time slowly unveiled before us. And there was a real job we felt waiting for us instead. The next year and a half we spent under the spell of this ninety-year old man, our beloved Amiyo da, who not only led the film through, but in reality took us to a deeper consciousness and understanding of life and time.
Amiyo da left us as suddenly as he came into our lives, before we could finish the film. But his presence in the film put the music of life into all the fragments that we were gleaning for our chronicle of forgotten time and vanishing memories.
Born in Kolkata in 1975, Datta began his career as a screenwriter before entering Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), as a student in the department of direction and screenplay writing. His short documentary film Here is My Nocturne (2004), made at SRFTI, was screened in major Indian film festivals. Tetris, his diploma film from SRFTI, premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2006 and traveled to several other festivals. This film, made for NHK in 2007, was his first film after graduating from film school. The film received the prestigious John Abraham National Award for Best Documentary at SIGNS 2007 in Kerala, India. His most recent film is .in for motion (2008).