Interview: Filmmakers Rajdeep Paul and Sarmistha Maiti decode Kalkokkho before its release tomorrow

The film creates a dark and dystopian world set in the backdrop of the pandemic

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  18th August 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  18th August 2022 12:00 AM

A still form Kalkokkho

Darkness has many shades --- some paralyse us, some intimidate us while some hold a mirror before us. Filmmaker duo Sarmistha Maiti and Rajdeep Paul's first full-length feature film, Kalkokkho does all this and more through its painstakingly created dystopian world inhabited by four very talented actors including Tannistha Biswas, Janardan Ghosh, Sreelekha Mukherji, Amit Saha, Ahana Karmakar and Deep Sarkar.

The film offers us a journey into the darkness that enveloped us during the pandemic and also the various shades of darkness within us. 

Rajdeep Paul and Sarmistha Maiti

The film premiered at the 26th Busan International Film Festival 2021 in the New Currents (Main Competition) section and at the 52nd International Film Festival Of India (IFFI) Goa. Rajdeep Paul and Sarmistha Maiti won the Golden Sparrow Best Screenplay Award at the Diorama International Film Festival 2021. As the film releases in theatres tomorrow, we talk with the directors to know more about the same.

This film has a very dystopian backdrop. How did you conceive it?

Rajdeep Paul & Sarmistha Maiti: We might love to live in denial but the fact of the matter is we are living indeed in a dystopian present - socio-politically, economically and environmentally. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were compelled to live like prisoners in our own houses in constant mortal fear of an invisible enemy. In our houses, we were made to repeat the same routine for days on end as if stuck in a time loop unable to meet the people we love. This dystopian reality that we all were living in became the backdrop of our film, Kalkokkho -- House of Time.

A still form Kalkokkho
A still form Kalkokkho

Do you think the theatre audience is mature enough to appreciate the plot?

When we made this film, we didn't have the privilege to think of all these equations and dynamics. In a time when our very survival was at stake, it was more important for us to make this film and record for posterity the reality we experienced and the truth that we realised. We can only hope that the audience connects to this reality and this truth.

Was shooting for the film difficult during the pandemic?

There were many restrictions in place but the biggest restriction was in our minds put forth by collective trauma. But it was also cathartic because it brought us together in the same space and time and made us realise that it is more important 'to live' than to merely survive.

We shot most of the film in a single house for fourteen days as if almost in a perfect quarantine. 

A still form Kalkokkho
A still form Kalkokkho

Do you feel that willingness to produce and showcase such a film has increased or it's still a big struggle?

We are fortunate enough that Aurora Film Corporation, the oldest existing cinema production and distribution company in India since 1906, with the legacy of producing and distributing films of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak to name a few, came forward to support our endeavour. We are more than obliged and grateful to them. 

What are your upcoming projects?

Our upcoming film Mon-Potongo (Mindflies) has a plethora of colourful characters with pavement dwellers of the city as its protagonists. It is an ode to love, amorality and the city of Kolkata. It has Seema Biswas, Joy Sengupta along with Amit Saha, Tannistha Biswas, Janardan Ghosh, Tribikram Ghosh and Subhankar Mohanta and Baishakhi Roy in the cast.