Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Procrastination(ia), Melancholia and Nostalgia

I have a boatload of work. So obviously I am watching cat videos and scrolling through Facebook. That's how I came upon a Scroll article on what to watch out for (literally) at the Kolkata Film Festival. And reading through lists that included restored classics like Pather Panchali and Bicycle thief as well as latest offerings by Panahi and a bunch of really interesting international cinema (not familiar with other names, puncturing the Bengali ego which can no longer "name-drop"), made me long for home. Now I shall wax eloquent about growing up and bygone eras.

The winter in Chiang Mai with crisp sunshine and blue skies is almost identical to the one in Calcutta. Except Calcutta early morning would be misty and the days more balmy. And Chiang Mai is driving me mad with the smell of chhatim--in winter. In Calcutta that would be post/monsoon (unless this is really climate change and everything is changing their timelines).

The first ever film festival I went to was when I was 16. I watched two films sitting on the isle steps at Nandan. No Man's Land and Figli/Hijos. I did not know cinema could be like that, that stories could be told this way. My tender mind, to say the least, was blown. I was there with my father who felt I should learn about good cinema. It was evening, after his work and my school.

The next time I returned I was armed with a schedule and had managed to wrangle a guest pass. This was early college days so I hadn't quite switched to my silver jewellery-cotton kurta Jadavpur chic yet. But an acquaintance I met had apparently described my jeans and t-shirt clad avatar as 'dopka'. Anyway, I felt very adult, travelling in the metro and getting off at Rabindra Sadan early morning, marking myself as one of the festival goers. I think there was an Almodovar retrospective that year but ignorant me didn't watch any of his films. I believe this was the year I saw Machuca (loved it). I loved Les Choristes (ki mainstream, tch). The opening film was Mar Adentro.

Since then I have attended film festivals in Delhi and Den Haag (missed the Rotterdam International Film Festival, alas, alack!) Goa and Guyana (I've never been to Guyana but needed something with G). And honestly, last few times Kolkata's pretenshista aantels have really pissed me off. But it still remains a festival where you don't get berated for not standing up to the blasted national anthem. That is something. And Kolkata winter>>>>Delhi/Goa/Dutch winters any day. But even when I go back I will never be the 19 year old with my jhola and my guest pass, watching international films for the first time, on my own.

No comments: