'Old Rooms' is nostalgia for present: Sandeep Ray
New Delhi: In 'Kokkho-Poth' (The Sound of Old Rooms), shot over a span of 20 years, director Sandeep Ray delves deep into the cultural consciousness of Kolkata through the life of teacher-poet Sarthak Roychowdhury.
The film is already making its presence felt in the festival circuit after screening at Busan and Dubai film festival recently to packed audiences.
While there is lot of nostalgia as the country celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, Ray feels the greatest legacy of the poet laureate was how he transformed the society, influencing poets like Sarthak, who
persist with their pursuit of poetry while balancing the ordinary.
"This is Tagore's 150 birth anniversary. Lot of films are being made around this issue. Tagore is being treated very nostalgically by all. For me, the legacy of Tagore is not in our fond remembrance of him but in how he transformed society.
So my film is about young poet Sarthak, now not so young, who lives a life in Kolkata that celebrates literature," Ray told PTI.
"It's not a film about Tagore. There is a reference to him. But this is how he changed the society and this is how poetry and literature are treated in Bengal."
Ray is interested in documenting personal journeys and through Sarthak he captures the changing faces of Kolkata, the cultural city of India.
He first enters into Sarthak's life when he is a teenager and the story ends when Sarthak is a 40-year-old man and the father of a child.
Ray, who has already made another documentary on Sarthak's family, says he wanted to record the present as it was happening.
"I don't operate out of nostalgia but out of immediacy of things. If anything the film is nostalgia for the present. I do feel that this is slipping away in my life and in his life because we are getting older. Will the younger generation sit around and read poems to their wives? Sarthak does that in the
film," Ray said.
"Documentaries can work not as a nostalgia or the yearning for the good old days but for this sense that cinema is to recapture the world and not reconstruct it. We feel we should get it now so that we have a record and it will just go. Tomorrow is another day."
The film is co-written with Sarthak and co-edited with Subhadro Chowdhury, with music by Sion Dey. The documentary, which began as a college project, depicts the 72-minutes of the 20-years of Sarthak's life.
Ray went through 60-hours of footage during the editing and Sarthak was an active participant in the process.
"It is very difficult for the subject to have a distance from what is the representation of his life. He wanted it in a certain way and I wanted it to be a story for an external audience. He being the subject he also had a some sense of what his life should be so there was some compromise."
Ray says Sarthak, who is also his cousin, captured his imagination from the very beginning.
"Basically, Sarthak was very interesting and entertaining person and I thought if I just stay with him over the time I would get something and I did. He is also man with great and unusual access to Kolkata."
It is Ray's second film on Sarthak's family but he does not call it a sequel. Ray now wants to direct a feature.