Riingo Banerjee’s Hitchcockian Thriller set in Calcutta
It’s not every day that New York actor Samrat Chakrabarti, who’s acted in a ton of movies and TV shows, gets to go back to his roots and star in a Bengali film. And a Hitchcockian thriller, no less! Samrat, who grew up in London, is currently in Calcutta – the city where his parents grew up and he’s seeing himself, larger than life, on huge billboards in the city.
Samrat, who’s done two big movies in the North and South of India – ‘Midnight’s Children’ and ‘Vishwaroopam’ respectively, is doing a movie in Calcutta for the first time and that too in Bengali. The film is ‘Sada Kalo Abcha’, directed by the innovative digital filmmaker Riingo Banerjee, known as the most experimental and technology driven filmmaker in Tollywood. The entire film has been shot with a range of Panasonic cameras.
Riingo Banerjee’s ‘Sada Kalo Abcha’
Samrat Chakrabarti’s 16 Days in the Jungles of Kolakham
Samrat points out that in Calcutta there is a great fondness for detective movies and suspense thrillers, and ‘Sada Kalo Abcha’, which stars Sayani Datta in the lead, is a whodunit without a detective where the protagonist discovers the clues almost the same time as the audience. He says of this role in this commercial Bengali film, “It’s an investigative thriller – a real cat-and-mouse chase. It’s a great character to play.”
The film was no stroll in Central Park for this New York actor. It was shot in 16 days, with a lot of it in the jungles of Kolakham, starting at 4 am. Says Samrat, “It was a real dense jungle with elephants and bison and leeches on the ground, with a lot of running through rivers and slipping in the mud. Now I look back and wonder did this all really happen!
There were lots of physical stunts and one involved a ten foot fall, just as a train comes in at the back. It had to be a really focused fall and when the director said to jump, I had to jump and we got a good shot!”
Samrat recalls the scenes which were shot via a tiny camera strapped to his chest so for the audience it’s almost as if they are running with him. He says, “Riingo’s one of the pioneers in this work. It’s an actor’s dream to have a director who gives you a lot of freedom and things are happening in the moment. It’s a great way to create art. Our lab was in the jungles of Kolakham because the location itself became another character.”
He adds, “It’s a very global film – it shows India and Bengal in a very different light than people are used to.” Fortunately, subtitled films are popular in the West so New Yorkers can hope to see the film here and it is also going to be traveling the festival circuit.