Reel Rewind

It was not everyday that you strained your ears to catch every word fighting the buzz of a decades-old film print.

Written by PiyasreeDasgupta | Published:June 9, 2009 2:55 am

It was not everyday that you strained your ears to catch every word fighting the buzz of a decades-old film print. Or squinted your eyes to make out a crude palm impression on paper,before the moment passed away in a grainy black and white frame. Again,it was not everyday that you fell in love with a film,the way you did with Kabuliwallah. Tapan Sinha,for several of our generation ended with the awe that his films stirred up in us. Very little was and is still known about the man,his methods and his personal quirks. Something,that Tapan Sinha Foundation and the Einstein Cine Club attempted to change,albeit posthumously,with their retrospective-cum-exhibition on the iconic filmmaker.

While eight of his films,which includes Hansuli Banker Upokotha,Ksudhita Pashan and a documentary on Jagadish Chandra Bose was screened,the exhibition at Gorky Sadan grabbed more eyeballs.

The exhibition had the usual suspects—film stills,production stills and posters. Though the tacky black velvet paper background and floral paper designs around the pictures were a little awkward,the regular black and white stills stood out probably because of our pre-knowledge that each is a testimony to instances of cinematic history. Shooting stills of Sabuj Dwiper Raja (1979),Jotugriho (1964),Jhinder Bondi (1961),Sagina Mahato (1974) and Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1991) etc comprise quite a bit of the display. “All these pictures are from personal collection. I was writing a book on Tapan da and researched on his works,spoke to him,for nearly six years,” said Arijit Moitra,secretary of the Tapan Sinha Foundation.

The posters,devoid of digital gloss remind us of the uncomplicated and witty way ideas could be replicated on paper. Posters of Kabuliwallah,Jotugriho,Jhinder Bondi etc are usually two-colour affairs with a motif on the background that sums up the spirit of the film. For example,the Sagina Mahato poster is a simple affair —a black and white blow up of Dilip Kumar with against a reddish background,the monotony broken by an interesting doodle-like impression of a multitude. The film was about a public uprising. The film booklet which comprised a brief of the film,the cast and credits,was a fixture in Sinha’s times and the display revealed are creative treasures. The booklet for Bancharamer Bagan (1980) is a paper cut out of an the outline of a man bent with age,holding onto a walking stick. Apart from that LP covers,EP covers,journals and books are also exhibited. Snatches of poetry from Sinha’s personal diary,the shooting report folder of his first film Ankush (1954),his golfer cap,kurtas,buttons,letters and the handwritten manuscript of Kichu Chaya Kichu Chhobi that Sinha had written were also on display. “We want to preserve everything related to Sinha. His films,the original screenplays,manuscripts,documents and also promote awareness about his works,” says Moitra.