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‘Once Upon A Time in Calcutta’ gets selected at Venice Film Festival

2 August, 2021 15:01:17
‘Once Upon A Time in Calcutta’ gets selected at Venice Film Festival

Calcutta aka Kolkata has always inspired the creative soul – from film makers to authors to artists. Rather it made world famous Film makers, it gave them that raw material that would take them to the international forum. And even today, it is no exception. We are not just talking about our past pride but our present as National Award-winner Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s third feature, ‘Once Upon A Time In Calcutta,’ has been selected in the prestigious upcoming 78th Venice Film Festival. It is the only movie from India to be selected and will play in the section titled, Horizons, the second most important after Competition – and which may be compared to Cannes’ A Certain Regard. This film festival which will run from September 1 to 11 on the quaint island of Lido, off mainland Venice, has become a major launch pad for Oscar contenders.

Aditya Vikram Sengupta

The film highlights the aspirations and struggles of people gasping for breath in an ever-expanding metropolis. “I have tried to create a real glimpse into the murky waters of Calcutta, with colourful characters, all trying very hard to find a corner of their own without drowning,” said the director. Sengupta’s work will compete with 18 others, like ‘Pilgrims’, ‘Amira’, ‘Atlantide’, ‘The Falls’, ‘A Plein Temps’, ‘107 Mothers’, ‘White Building’ and ‘True Things’.


‘Once Upon A Time In Calcutta’ is Sengupta’s second Venice outing, after his debut ‘Labour of Love’ (‘Asha Jaoar Majhe’), which premiered in Venice Days – and clinched the FEDEORA Award. His second creation, ‘Jonaki, (incidentally his wife’s name is that), was at Rotterdam in 2018. Sengupta’s latest work has been inspired by true events and is a homage to a teeming metropolis and was the Second City of the British Empire after London. For a long time, Calcutta – which has a striking resemblance to London – was the capital of British India. Some years ago, in the political craze to change names and perhaps destroy history by erasing all things British/foreign, Calcutta became Kolkata. 

‘Once Upon A Time In Calcutta’ has an ensemble cast, including Satrajit Sarkar, Arindam Ghosh, Reetika Nondine Shimu, Anirban Chakrabarti and Shayak Roy. The film was shot by Palm dÓr winner, Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s cinematographer, Gokhan Tiryaki. The music has been composed by Dutchman Minco Eggersman. The movie focusses on the plight of a mother in search of a new meaning and identity. But soon realises that she is merely a scavenger in a city of hunger and poverty.

“Venice is a dream Festival for any filmmaker and we are extremely grateful and excited to be back with a Bengali film about the city, especially on the 100 birth centenary of Satyajit Ray,” Sengupta said in a statement. “Leveraging real characters and actual events, the movie is my effort to chip away the various layers of the previously Communist city to reveal a human condition that is tragic and yet full of hope and joy.”

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