The Bengal Rising
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Before they sealed the script of Lootera, co-producer Vikas Bahl and director Vikramaditya Motwane went scouting for locations that could give the feel of the India of the '50s . After a series of recces, they zeroed in on West Bengal's Purulia district. "The old world charm is still intact there and it's only after Vikramaditya travelled extensively that we thought of Bengal as the perfect location," says Bahl.
Director Sujoy Ghosh's thriller Kahaani — shot entirely in Kolkata — is a beautiful montage of the city's picture postcard-like locations. Still, various aspects of the city, which can lend themselves to striking cinematic visuals, remain untapped, at times even forgotten. When filmmaker Ribhu Dasgupta decided to film one of the scenes of Michael in the docks of Kolkata, producer Anurag Kashyap was a bit amused. Kashyap apparently had no idea that the city had a port. "There is a lot in the city that has remained untapped in Hindi films. I have tried to explore those areas," says Kolkata-bred Dasgupta, whose directorial debut Michael is warming up for a year-end release following a string of festival outings.
In the months to come, however, Hindi movie-goers will see a lot of Bengal on the big screen. Anurag Basu's upcoming Barfi! is set in Darjeeling in North Bengal. After showcasing North India in his earlier movies, Dibakar Banerjee will shoot his next in Kolkata.
The overexposure of Mumbai, Delhi and the Hindi heartland has made Hindi filmmakers look for new locales. "When you shoot in a region that is still virgin, it brings a lot of novelty to your film," says Bahl. Kolkata boasts of European-style structures while rural Bengal remains relatively untouched by urbanisation. This makes it easier to set period films, such as Barfi! and Lootera, in the state. "Parts of Bengal are almost frozen in time; the old houses, signposts and streets still look the same. It is easier to recreate the old era here," says Basu whose Barfi! is set in the '70s.
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