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Apu Goes To Amragachi

Thanks to Drishya, villagers in Calcutta's backyard are getting a taste of world cinema classics

Apu Goes To Amragachi
Narendra Bisht
Apu Goes To Amragachi
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Using a hired projector and a clutch of classic VCDs, Drishya—a student film study circle set up by a few post-graduates from Calcutta and Jadhavpur University—has been travelling to villages to hold screenings, since October 2003. Says Drishya’s Chiranjeeb Mukhopadhyay, 26, "Research conducted by our friends showed how electronic media was challenging folk forms. Villagers were abandoning rich folk forms and travelling 12-14 km to see the latest Hindi movies, or hiring VCDs." To combat crass commercial cinema and offer them more aesthetic choices, Drishya brought along films that were different from Bollywood’s balle-balle wedding galas and divorced-from-reality designer dreams. The group offered organic cinema made by Ray, Ghatak and Godard, whose evocative lyricisms didn’t need sexily picturised songs, heroines in chiffon saris or crude ‘item songs’.

The group began with Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (Adventures of Goopy and Bagha), 1968, knowing that people would relate to the spoken Bengali. A Bengali cult classic, Goopy, is a fairy tale where the lead pair have the power to conjure food out of thin air. During one evocative scene where Goopy and Bagha shout out for rasogullas, gulab jamuns and puris, "a collective sigh" went through the crowd, recalls Drishya’s Sunetro Bandhpadhyay. "No one missed the theme of starvation, and the fact that soldiers were willing to put down weapons and eat rather than wage wars," adds Chiranjeeb.

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