Filmmakers Sarmistha Maiti and Rajdeep Paul are ready with their first full-length film, Kalkokkho
After award-winning shorts including Malai and Kayantar, National Award-winning filmmakers Sarmistha Maiti and Rajdeep Paul just finished filming their first full-length feature, Kalkokkho (House of Time). In its post-production stage, Kalkokkho takes an experimental approach to explore the dark aspects of our own selfish natures that the pandemic so plainly laid bare using a blend of magic realism and existential horror.
The film, produced by Aurora Film Corporation, is rich in spiritual and mythological symbolism and weaves the journey of spiritual enlightenment subtly into the narrative of the cinematic space — the journey of a doctor in the house of the three women. We had a chat with the filmmakers about the same. Excerpts:
Tell us what inspired you both this time?
Rajdeep Paul & Sarmistha Maiti: 2020 is the saga of an unknown paranoia that left its darkest and deepest scars in each and everyone’s life across the planet and we are not yet out of it. This indefinite pause was the inspiration behind the making of this film. Kalkokkho is an ode to love, fear and the cage of time in which we were all locked in.
Isn’t it too dark and wry for a theatrical release?
RP & SM: We are living in perhaps the darkest times in the modern history of human civilisation, be it socially, economically, politically and personally. So, there is no reason to believe that the audience will not resonate with the kind of theme we are trying to portray.
Content of extreme dark nature has found good response and acceptability among the audience be it Game of Thrones or Sacred Games, Tumbbad, Andhadhun, Mirzapur, Paatal Lok or Jallikattu. Last but not the least, Kalkokkho is not only about darkness, but also about love, hope and humanity. It is also in a way a morality tale; a story of spiritual awakening that we feel has the power to move the audience. You have, like always, steered clear from any known face.
Tell us a little about the actors?
RP & SM: The film has just six actors — three females and three males. We were fortunate to work with National Award-winning veteran actress Sreelekha Mukherji of Parashuramer Kuthar fame. Janardan Ghosh, an experienced stage actor and dramatist plays the protagonist in the film. Tannistha Biswas, a very talented young actor who is working both on stage and screen has given a much-nuanced performance as the leading lady of the film.
Ahana Karmakar at just 11 years old is someone to watch out for. We believe she has a pure actor’s potential in her. Deep Sarkar, the other child actor, who was the protagonist in our short film Malai, is also there is a small but important role. There’s also Amit Saha, who is the only known face in our film.
You are planning for festival release around Bengali New Year followed by a theatrical release. Do you feel the audience is mature enough to appreciate such a heavy and thought-provoking film?
RP & SM: More than the audience, if there’s something that needs to be worried about is the short-sightedness of the distribution and exhibition system. If they don’t give different kinds of content a chance, there is no way cinema will survive in this part of the world. Exhibition system needs to be re-defined and re-shaped and the battle is profuse.