Never quite understood the propensity to follow trends. It does not occur to me why I would want to or rather have to wear the same clothes that everyone else wearing. And as far as family and friends are concerned, it shows. “That is so last decade,” chided a friend.
A bookworm and a film buff too, she buys the book when it’s “just out” and dresses in “what’s in”.
The defense: What’s the big deal? The book or the movie for that matter will be the same whether I bought it/watched it yesterday, today or tomorrow. And as for the outfit, well, it was bought last decade.
So. While the downside of not watching trends is everything from being mildly rebuked by friends and family for turning up in the wrong clothes to not knowing what to say at parties where everyone else is discussing the latest topic, there is an upside to it. Your attention, not gobbled up by what everyone else is, “talking about” shifts to the “other”.
You get glimpses into books that only a few have read or films that no one has yet watched. One such film, discovered recently when a friend sent it via email, was the still unreleased Kolkatar King.
Directed by Judhajit Sarkar, an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, it is a dark satire on the city’s notorious underbelly of crime and the nexuses which exist between a cross-section of powerful people from police to politicians to persons of prominence in educational institutions. Shot eight years ago, mainly in the dingy alleys of the city’s slums, in red light areas and in old, abandoned houses, according to the makers of the movie, it got stuck at the distribution stage because of lack of funds.
Though inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s iconic play, Three Penny Opera, which was set in Berlin’s underworld of the 1920s, Sarkar adapts and contextualises the story for Kolkata. And he does this with impeccable attention to detail. The characters, in spite of the heightened absurdity integral to this form of spoof, are not unrecognisable.
The sweet-talking, inspirationspewing owner of an educational institution, for instance, who mints money from duped applicants but speaks of lofty ideals. The corrupt cop, whose façade of an upright upholder of law, is so tenuous that the camouflage barely holds up under the slightest of scrutiny.
The desperately-trying-to-be-honest agent of a central agency who has to battle with his conscience at every stage of a bribe-offering session, depicted in a hilarious sequence by Sarkar.
Indeed the humour, now tongue-in-cheek, now laugh-outloud,infuses the film, which is otherwise gory and violent, with a lightheartedness which softens the blow. Sarkar’s film was the acting debut of Anirban Bhattacharya, who went onto act in a number of successful films including as the famous detective Byomkesh Bakshi and Sarkar calls him “Bengal’s Shah Rukh Khan”.
In this film he is remarkable as the protagonist Krishnakanta, the notorious and ruthless criminal, whom the whole of Kolkata knows as “King”. He is the quintessential Brechtian character, who is a product, a violently dangerous by-product of a cold, cruel, cut-throat capitalistic society.
The appeal of Sarkar’s film is the timelessness of the theme. “The film has not aged and not just because of the timelessness of the theme but because we have not yet received the film certification which puts a date on it,” says Sarkar, who is thinking about launching it in the near future. He says that he does not want to release it in an OTT platform until it has been released in theatres.