By Shoma A. Chatterji
Teenkahon is Baudhhaditya Mukherjee’s first directorial feature film. But Baudhhaditya is not new to film-making. He has been making ad films in general and public service films in particular. His series on domestic violence called Bell Bajao, produced by Breakthrough, has won some of the most prestigious awards at international film festivals. Teenkahon, which will make the viewer sit up for its sensational theme, has won the award for the Best Screenplay, at the Bridge Film Festival, Mitrovice, Kosovo 2014 and Special Mention of the Jury at the same festival for cinematography done by National Award-winning cinematographer Aveek Mukherjee. The film has also been selected for screening at the Goa IFFI’s Indian Panorama.
Produced by Monalisa Mukherjee, Teenkahon translates as ‘Three Obsessions’ and is actually three short films that explores three different facets of obsession that sustain beyond marriage ties. The first film called Nabalok (1920 – 1954) is based on a story by noted Bengali litterateur Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay (not Bandopadhyay). This film is shot entirely in black-and-white and introduces two new faces, Ananya Sen and Barshan Seal. Post Mortem (1978), based on a story by Syed Mustafa Shiraz, tells a thrilling story of a dialogue between the husband (Sabyasachi Chakraborty) and lover (Joy Sengupta) of a woman who committed suicide the evening before. This has been shot in Technicolour.
The third story Telephone (2013) has been written by the director himself. “This British novelist Roald Dahl-esque story with a series of twists and turns looks into the darkness that looms beneath the surface of human beings and how manipulative human relationships have become. It is a film that captures the superficiality of modern day life and the emergence of the strong figure of the woman in Bengali society, through the lives of a police officer and his wife,” elaborates Baudhhaditya. This film features Rituparna Sengupta, Ashish Vidyarthi, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Sumanta Mukherjee.
Baudhhaditya says, “Since I consider this film my personal tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema, I decided to play around with the form, content, language and technique of cinema in my own way. Firstly, I chose the stories belonging to three different time-settings so that I could experiment with the cinema technology that sustained during the time-settings of the three films. Secondly, I have tried to take great care that each film is in keeping with the technique and style of film-making of the period it belongs to. Each story has been structured through a restoration of the props, costumes, make-up and hairstyle of its time-setting. Thirdly, all three films have been digitally manipulated to imitate the color processes available within Indian cinema during the time-periods the stories belong to. Lastly, I have played around with the evolution in Bengali as it has changed over the time-frames of these three films. The Bengali spoken during Nabalok is no longer spoken today, interwoven and dotted with a lot of English words and shortened and hybridised Bengali words.”
Teenkahon has been edited by Arghya Kamal Mitra, also a National Awardee and features two more National Award-winners in the acting cast – Rituparna Sengupta and Ashish Vidyarthi. The music is by Arnab Chakraborty. “History has witnessed similar efforts in world cinema of featuring three stories in one film so the structure is not new. We have Satyajit Ray’s Teen Konya (Three daughters), Hsiao-hsien Hou’s Three Times, Spirits of the Dead, and De Sica’s Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow which won the Oscar in 1965. Films like these have happened in world cinema time and again. But I have tried to put in my own inputs born of my experience and the experience of the adventurous crew and team I work with. Let us wait and hope for the best,” he sums up.