BANGALORE: This Thursday, film lovers can be transported into the literary alleyways of Kolkata through a documentary film that was shot over the span of 20 years. The film traces the life of a young man who wants to become a poet. The Sound of Old Rooms (Kokkho-Poth). Directed by Sandeep Ray, it will be screened at Everest Talkies, Fraser Town, this evening at 7 pm.
The Sound Of Old Rooms, filmed over 20 years, follows Sarthak, an Indian man who juggles his desire to be a poet with the practicalities of raising a family. “The film explores love - love of a young couple struggling to survive in a cramped old house and intellectual imbroglios; the love of a mother for a son with lofty ideas and a poor liver; commitment of the readers as their beloved poet goes through a creative block. The film manages to capture the spirit of Calcutta by focusing on the vicissitudes of one family,” says Nishtha Jain’s (director, Gulaabi Gang) review of the 72-minute film.
The director, Sandeep Ray started this project when he was learning how to make films in 1990. “How do you shoot? How do you edit a small episode? My most comfortable place was the home of Sarthak. He was a budding poet close to me, as well as the type that has screen presence, as did his mother. I had no idea then that it would last so long. I would keep up the filming intermittently as I evolved in style and vision. I think 10 years into it, I felt that I had a rare, and if I may say so, important archive,” he says.
But when one films a particular subject for over 20 years, where does one draw the line, so as to not get too close to the subject? “I drew the line instinctively. When I felt I was encroaching on the interiority of someone’s life that wasn’t or shouldn’t be public, I stopped. It’s a judgement call. I would leave the room. Or if something was inadvertently filmed, I probably edited it out,” he says.
When asked what he likes about making documentaries over feature films, Sandeep is quick to answer, “Finding out that the quotidian can be so much more powerful than the dramatic modes. I like filming the texture of life. No script can bring out the majesty of a real laugh or a lucid moment of reckoning. “
Sandeep has just completed a short fiction film called Galau (A Man at Sea). “It is filmed in a desolate island off the Pacific Ocean, almost near Australia. Its entirely in Indonesian, a language I speak because of my training as a historian. It stars Tariq Khalil, a 45-year-old Pakistani-Scott who ambles around looking to heal a wound,” he explains.
The Sound of Old Rooms (language: Bengali, subtitles: English) will be screened at Everest Talkies, Fraser Town, on September 25 at 7 pm.