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Bengali writer Sukumar Ray’s poem for children has inspired a short film that premieres at the New York Indian Film Festival.

Prosit-Roy-main
Bengali writer Sukumar Ray’s poem for children has inspired him for a short film that premieres at the New York International Film Festival

Growing up in Kolkata, Bengali literature was a staple in Prosit Roy’s childhood. He was especially fond of the poetry and short stories penned by Sukumar Ray, father of Satyajit Ray. Abol Tabol, his renowned anthology of poems and rhymes, remained Roy’s favourite even after he moved to Mumbai to pursue a career in the film industry.

Last year, when Roy was looking for subjects on which to make his directorial debut with a short film, he wanted it to be simple yet impactful. That’s when he turned towards the works of his favourite writer. One of the poems from Abol Tabol is Gnop Churi, which tells the amusing tale of a man who goes about complaining that his moustache has been stolen even as the people around him assure him that it continues to sit above his lip.

Roy’s reinterpretation of this poem into a short film, Bloody Moustache, has now been selected for the upcoming New York Indian Film Festival and will premiere on May 8.

“The poem has an interesting concept but is written for children. I used the poem’s premise, and developed the script into a psychological thriller,” explains Roy, who has been working as an assistant director in the Hindi film industry for nearly seven years. The film thus begins with the lead character deciding to do away with his moustache to impress his wife. However, when he steps out of the bathroom and shows off his new avatar, his wife and brother can’t spot the difference.

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The short film, with actor Jameel Khan in the central role, also marks the debut of casting director Honey Trehan’s wife, Priyanka Setia. Laughing, Roy explains that the film has been made through favours by friends he made in the industry. “I didn’t have the money to cast professional actors and my search for an amateur leading lady was going nowhere untill Honey, a friend, suggested I screen test Priyanka. She suited the role,” he says.

Similarly, the crew comprises friends and the film, in order to contain the budget, has been shot in one house in a single day. Roy’s post-production, again, was taken up by FutureWorks because they were impressed by the film.

While Roy, who has worked on Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na, Delhi-6 and Ek Thi Daayan, had planned to use Bloody Moustache as his showreel, when he took it to friends, directors Abhishek Chaubey and Shakun Batra, they encouraged him to send it to festivals. “I had the budget to send it to only two festivals, of which NYIFF selected it. I am hoping it will find a wider audience,” says Roy.

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