Kolkata Cocktail~ Looking Back on the Journey

For the last two years, Kolkata Cocktail has gripped us.
We seem to be in its loving embrace..
As if uncannily and unknowingly this poetry film has become a character in our lives.
A character,  we built from scratch.

At the heart of this of course were three real life friends, all of whom met each other online.
The three of us
All Kolkata girls
All scribbling poetry…
And all of us wanting to have some fun with our common passion namely poetry…

So once upon a time circa 2018, when Lopa come visiting from the US, we  3 met up for coffee, along with Shuvayu who directs films and is incidentally married to Gopa.
The chit chat veered towards visual poetry and at the end of that coffee meet we found ourselves dicussing about something called a “poetry film”.

We were quick to submit our individual stories and poems to Shuvayu, post which there was another meeting with  the scriptwriter Aparna Ghosh over succulent chicken cutlets and momos and chocolate cake,  for the possible amalgamation of our individual stories to script out a common essence

The one thing that we always knew was that the heart of the film would have to be our beloved “Kolkata” and our friendship.
And offcourse the bedrock of this film would be our poetry.

And so just as soon as Lopa came to revisit Kolkata in Winter, Shuvayu and his stunning team of enthusiastic fun-loving super talented crew started the business of shoots.

A home spun idea
Where the storyteller were buddies
The director was part of gang of friends
The storytellers acted.
The director composed the original score and did the sound mix…
And we dived into what seemed like an absolute party.

None of us will ever forget 16th December 2018.
Costumes discussed on phone and Lopa tucked away safely at Gopa’s home so that she does not get late for the early morning shoot, the gleeful grown ups met  in the early winter mist of North Calcutta.
There is always something extremely poignant about those lanes and bylanes especially in post Puja, pre winter mornings …a city waking up… beautifully captured in certain shots of Kolkata Cocktail . We were excited and happy and nervous all at the same time. Facing the camera for a prolonged shooting session was new to all of us
A large part of the shooting was on the streets and very often people would gather to watch us. We ambled on through the day, most of the time frustrating our dear director by singing instead of acting and even deciding amongst ourselves to swap dialogues.
Eventually he let us be what we were best at being…ourselves… and took shots of us in different moods, carefully weaving it into the storyline.
And so there we were, enjoying the North Calcutta cafe and the late afternoon stroll at Victoria Memorial, catching the winter rain by the riverside and pre christmas cheer at New Market. A day of loving and living our city.

Shooting, dubbing , editing and numerous telphone conversations later it was time to launch the trailer.
Fast forward to September 2019 and the kindness of friends like Somek Chowdhury,  Surojit Rout and Rakhee Ghosh. We had a wonderful trailer launch at Ekdakia Rd. Since this was a women centric film Surojit had invited China Pal, one of the eminent lady idol makers at Kumartuli, food historian Pritha Sen, Advertising personality, entrepreneur and food Curator Ipshita Bhandary for the trailer launch. Everyone were all praises and that went a long way for us to feel that what had been our labour of love had promises of being appreciated by others.

The film was now in the stage of getting its finishing touches.
By this time Prakriti, Paroma and Pragya  the three protagonists of the film played by Lopa , Gopa and myself were well recognized by Kolkata and everybody was asking us about the launch of the film
Pragya and Paroma as  the characters of Kolkata Cocktail were even invited to launch Rhiti Chatterjee Bose and Dr Shanker Chatterjee’ s art exhibition  at the Academy of Fine Arts.

The city was waiting
And so were we
But we had work to do.
Mr Goutam De, the Regional Director of ICCR has kindly consented for us to launch Kolkata Cocktail at the esteemed venue.
We were thrilled
The date was 20th December 2019.
The experience unforgettable.

Inspite of there being some trouble on the streets that evening Kolkata Coktail launched at the ICCR to an almost full house. The media was there in sizeable numbers.And we got  mentioned widely even by the prestigious Times of India,  amidst others

The party was just beginning.
There were several screenings at esteemed veniues like Kolkata Centre of Creativity,  Millie Droog Cafe and participation in film festivals like Silent River Film Festival ,( California) , Literoma short film festival where it was awarded the Best Women’s Film, NexGen International short film festival,viewings by Kavya Kumbh, a Confluence of Cinema, Art and Poetry   and by Motivational Strips, the World’s most active literary forum .
Kolkata Cocktail even made its way to Wikipedia under Poetry Films.

One  year from its launch Kolkata Cocktail seems to be a housdehold name.
This sensitive , multilayered tribute to the city of Kolkata through the poetic eye of the Director , weaving together the three independent stories of the three protagonists has encapsulated this vibrant city in its traditional ( Paroma) , contemporary ( Pragya) and Diasporic ( Prakriti) avatars.

It has indeed been very special to play a role which  personifies my city.
Each of the charactors were based from  our short stories and the poetry was alsi our  own.

For me, my character Pragya was taken from my short story Petrichor.
Over the last 3 years, Pragya, Paroma , Prakriti and Kolkata Cocktail has alnost overshot its reel life and has been an  extremely real , true and joyous part of our daily lives.

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