Chhatrak – my tribute to Satyajit Ray: Vimukthi

Kolkata: Sri Lankan director Vimukthi Jayasundara, whose Bengali co-production `Chhatrak (Mushroom) is the only Indian film in Cannes this year, says cinema greats like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak inspired him to the `City of Joy`.

"`Chhatrak` is my tribute to the great sons of Bengal, I always admired. Also, in a way it is a Bengali film with a universal feel, as the subject belongs to every citizen of this world," Vimukhti told PTI over phone from Paris.

The director, whose love with Kolkata began since he started watching the works of the great masters, says he decided to base `Chhatrak` on Kolkata after a casual chat with his Bengali director friend Bappaditya Bandyopadhyay.

"The idea took shape in numerous sessions over coffee and facebook chats with Bappa. In Chhatrak the city comes alive with its contradictions," says Vimukhti, who shuttles between hometown Colombo and Paris.

The winner for the Camera d`Or at Cannes as the best first film for his debut 2005 film `The Forsaken Land`, Vimukhti says he is yet to get over his love for Kolkata and plans to make a sequel of `Chhatrak` in the city.

The avowed Ray and Ghatak fan says he found Kolkata as a city "contrasted with the period looks of north Kolkata buildings and the people and the zazzy very synthetic, ultramodern cityscape in other parts, where development is taking place with displacement of the old.

"My film in some ways is the same tale of urbanization in Asia with less dialogues and if I make the sequel it will extend the journey and how such experiences become universal," he says.

Vimukhti, whose second feature film was aptly named `Between Two Worlds` (Ahasin Wetei), says he did not find it difficult to bond with his mostly Bengali cast and crew.

Asked about his favourite Ray and Ghatak film, Vimukhti said, "I will list `Pather Panchali` and `Jalsaghar`. About Ghatak certainly `Meghe Dhaka Tara`. But we should rather not grade their brilliant works," he says.

The film will be screened on May 18 and 19 in Cannes in director`s fortnight section. While there will be two screenings for the press and official screening on April 18, it will be again shown to the public the next day.

"But I can`t wait to see the response of the people of Bengal for whom the film has been made. I expect this to happen by July when I will be back to Kolkata," Vimukhti says.

The film, talking about rootlessness, centres around a successful NRI back in Kolkata to search his moorings. But to his dismay he finds that it has fallen prey to urbanization.

It has been produced by Vinod Lahoti, a Kolkata-based businessman who is keen to team with Vimukhti and Bappaditya again.