38 min. Bengali, English, Hindi.
Part fiction, part spoof, part essay, part documentary, the film weaves together disparate strands: a critique of western media’s construction, from the 1960s to the 1990s, of Kolkata as ‘the black hole’ and ‘the worst place in the world’; an ‘elegy’ to Deepak Majumdar, one of Kolkata’s great intellectual mavericks, a teacher and friend to Joshi and many others, who died while the film was being made; and the images and song of a patua – a traditional Bengali scroll-painter. Starting with a variation on the opening of Apocalypse Now, moving through the performance-interpretations of the scroll-painter, the filmmaker himself, and an African-American video-artist from New York, the film asks questions about one’s sense of place and belonging, about the links between memory and image, and about the permanence and transience of this thing we call ‘culture.’
While referring to the reconstruction of Kolkata in the Hollywood production of City of Joy, (the film based on Dominique Lapierre’s bestseller) or weaving a fantasy about getting Jack Nicholson to act as Majumdar in a film on the latter’s life, the film asks: can ‘the worst place in the world’ be anywhere else but in your eyes and your heart?
Ruchir Joshi was born in Kolkata, India in 1960. He gained a Bachelor of Arts degree and works as a writer, columnist and filmmaker. TALES FROM PLANET KOLKATA was digitally restored, alongside other films of Joshi.
Production Ruchir Joshi. Production company Hit Films (Kolkata, India). Director Ruchir Joshi. Screenplay Ruchir Joshi, Tony Cokes. Cinematography Ranjan Palit. Editing Reena Mohan. Music Vikram Joglekar, Dee Wood. Sound Suresh Rajamani. Production manager Dinesh Raut. Digital restoration Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst. With Loic (Apocalypse Man), Ruchir Joshi (French Cineaste), Tony Cokes (Rickshaw Puller), Paritosh Sau (Blue Man).
1991: Egaro Mile / Eleven Miles (155 min.), Memories of Milk City (13 min.). 1993: Tales from Planet Kolkata. 1994: Dream Before Wicket (50 min.). 2005: A Mercedes for Ashish (30 min.). 2006: Gurgaon Giraffe (6 min., video loop). 2008: New Dream Local (11 min., video loop). 2010: Shahid – Slow-Hand Groove (6 min.). 2012: My Rio, My Tokyo (52 min. / 75 min.).
Photo: © Ruchir Joshi