Ram Kamal Mukherjee's short film is an ode to the rickshawalas in Kolkata
Filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s Rickshawala puts the spotlight on a subject that is hardly explored in Indian cinema. To be specific, there are just two films that document the life of a rickshaw puller in Kolkata – City of Joy by Roland Joffe and Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin. And technically, the Om Puri led film is the only film that talks about rickshaw pullers in Kolkata who are vanishing fast from the streets.
Ram Kamal’s Rickshawala stars Avinash Dwivedi in the lead who makes for a compelling rickshaw puller in the film and nails it with his acting skills. “My challenge was to get an actor from Mumbai to play a rickshaw puller and Avinash did total justice to the character. A real rickshawala trained him. It must have been a task for a Bandra boy to live the life of a rickshaw puller, pulling the rickshaw barefoot. All the locations were real including the house.” The film also stars Sangita Sinha and Kasturi Chakraborty and presents a different version of the city, not sticking to the cliché images of Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial.
This is Mukherjee’s third short film, though he refuses to club the latest one as a short film as it meets the international standard of a feature film. A little encouragement from his friends made him pick up the subject. He tells us, “My earlier films, though in Hindi had a Kolkata connect and a lot of my friends requested to make a film on the subject or to make a Bengali film. But I felt that I will pick up the language only when the subject demands it and this subject demanded it so I am made a film in Bengali, though there are Hindi and Bhojpuri elements in it as well.”
The script has three plots running parallelly – one is Manoj’s personal journey, the second is his love story and the third is about a married woman finding solace in a rickshaw walla. The film has travelled to different film festival and has earned acclaim from the actors and jury members.
It will be available soon on Biiggbang Amusement.