The Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo city is on a roll. Kolkata which has been the hotspot for cinematic geniuses to emerge, the Likes of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak! In the last couple of years, the city of Joy is becoming a favorite spot for Bollywood directors to set their film in. The most popular pictures splashed in the media this month were of Sonakshi Sinha and Saif Ali Khan shooting in Kumartuli for Bullett Raja by Tigmanshu Dhulia. Also Ranbir Kapoor and Vidya Balan are both going to be back in the city soon to shoot again.
After a dry spell of cinematic low for years, Kolkata is trying to lure Bollywood back in order to attain its previous dazzling glory. It was Shah Rukh Khan and his IPL Kolkata based team who shifted the focus back on the city, possibly. Or simply the fact that Bollywood directors are delving into finding a set up less explored on celluloid and Kolkata seems to be a perfect venue for it.
So why is Bollywood suddenly inclining to this city? Its colonial style tall architecture, the serene quaintness, the pristine quiet by the Ganges – Kolkata does seem to be exquisitely beautiful to shoot. Its beauty is divinely artistic which will give to any film a naïve and earthy charm.
Few of the biggest films in the last few years have been set in Kolkata. Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal was partly set here. The film very easily managed to cross over (often frequently) to San Francisco, the merging factors in the two cities being trams and the Howrah Bridge. However, Pradeep Sarkar’s Parineeta was more boneedee Zamindar-ish. Shot extensively in the narrow by lanes of North Kolkata, the film managed to maintain the essence of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s original novel. The camera work of Parineeta was impeccable and it finely encapsulated the lucid beauty of Ganges’ boat ride and the high profile Park Street life in Moulin Rouge in the same frame!
Last year’s most enthralling film Kahaani was set in Kolkata on purpose. Being a fascinating thriller that it was, the film was set in place which is almost a mystery to most cine goers. Ghosh’s Kahaani was delightfully deviant and explored places besides the very common Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial. Kahaani was set in an obscure South Kolkata locality which a Calcuttan very casually passes by everyday. It indeed tried its best to keep up the ordinariness, both in its places and plot – which made the climax even more enjoyable.
From Mira Nair’s masterpiece The Namesake to Mani Ratnam’s dramatic Yuva, Kolkata has managed to find a special place in Bollywood. Three of last year’s most successful films were shot in Kolkata – Barfi!, Vicky Donor and Kahaani. It is mostly Anurag Basu’s Barfi! which did the magic. While Kahaani was a mysterious plot and the beautiful city had not much of a role to play in it, Barfi!’s plot imbibed immensely from the beauty and art of Kolkata. Shot in the most crowded areas in the city, the film’s cinematography was work of sheer excellence. And now since films shot in Kolkata have performed well, one can easily hope that the rest of the directors will simply follow to discover and unravel the mysteries of this city for their own.
The locales in and around Kolkata are often cost efficient and easy for film making purpose. The unit labor is cheaper in the city will better work skill which can be attributed to the general love of Bengalis towards music, cinema and arts. Also everything is immediately available around this city – Darjeeling or Digha, Mountain and Sea. Spectacular views at a hand’s distance almost; there are no reasons why this place shouldn’t be a shooting paradise for directors. Moreover, the city and its people are extremely supportive of artistic ventures. Going by its illustrious history of culture and art, theatres and books fairs, one can safely say Kolkata will soon emerge as a favorite shooting spot for Bollywood.