After Cannes,Kolkata is how Stéphane Amalir,director of Alliance française du Bengale,describes a pandal at south Kolkatas Jodhpur Park set up with French help in what is perhaps the first foreign collaboration ever in Durga Puja.
The organisers,Pallymangal Samity,managed sponsorship from Alliance Francaise and roped in two French painters who have themed the pandal on cinema,both Indian and French.
Battling inclement weather for two months,Gaelle Foray and Jean Xavier Renaud have depicted 100 years of Indian cinema through presto paintings. The pandal resembles a classic cinema theatre complete with a box-office and a wall plastered with posters of films that have made history in Indian cinema. Films featured in Cannes festival also find a place here.
Portraits in charcoal of renowned French filmmaker Jean Renoir and the legendary Satyajit Ray (a friend of Renoir) are put up on wooden boundaries. Posters of Lumiere Brotherss first movie screened in 1896 is also up.
The pandal has a replica of a film set where props,cameras and lights have been placed to give the visitors the feel of a film shoot.
The organisers are all praise for the artists. The French artists battled worked to finish the murals under an overcast sky and monsoon rains We are grateful to them, said Shibu Mitra,secretary,Pallymangal Samity puja committee.
The artists painted on pine wood and used chemicals to retain the colour even if it rained,added Mitra.
The French artists did not know much about Goddess Durga and the rituals when they reached the city. We provided them with books and photographs. They absorbed the essence of our puja culture and successfully transformed it in their artwork, said Rishi,an artist involved in designing the special puja pandal.