For more than three decades, I share an intimate relation with Joy Goswami. Although he is senior to me but we shared the same sociocultural environment and witnessed the tumultuous political conditions during 1970’s and 80’s. While I grew up at Krishnagar, Joy Goswami was staying at their ancestral house in Ranaghat and often we used to meet for long informal conversations over endless cups of tea. We were discussing about little magazines, Group Theater and world cinema— a familiar sphere of literary, political and cultural activities within which we were shaped.
In the post 1970s, while staying at a suburban locality, we witnessed the turbulent political period, and finally the collapse many beliefs. Yet, we were trying to hold on to what remained. The crisis of faith in the grand narratives of politics and ideology made us frustrated, anxious and vulnerable. Somehow, we were still clinging on to Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan and could not effortlessly drift towards Michael Jackson or Madonna!
Within this context, I always felt that if I make a film it would be about the experiences of growing up in a suburban region and the negotiations that people make when they come to a metropolis. This documentary is like a chapter to that personal narrative of mine. In this film, Joy Goswami is speaking about a range of topics, which I can relate to and identify with very intimately, as if he is speaking on behalf of me. So our conversation on screen is like a dialogue within oneself. The long interviews turned out to be intrapersonal and truly introspective.
Some of my previous documentaries, Bindhyabasini (1993), Song of My Life (2005), My Life My Music (2008) etc. were also biographical documentaries, as I believed that the persons behind these remarkable creative expressions also need to express their own personal struggles, aspirations and memories and hence this film is a natural outcome of that conviction.
Although, everyone has their personal favourites but one cannot deny that after Rabindranath Tagore, Jibanananda Das and Shakti Chattopadhyay, Joy Goswami marked the defining moment in Bengali poetry. As there are no films yet on the life and times of the poet, I felt a sincere urge to make this film to chronicle the creative anxieties of one of the most eminent and important poets of our time. Since the practice of documenting and archiving cultural practices is hardly there in India, I hope the film would also be able to contribute into that widening gap.
The film took almost two years to make. Primarily because I believe that a documentary film may take a long period of time so that the growth and the transformations of individuals, and their situations can be captured. Unlike television documentaries, which are made within a relatively short span of time, this documentary, aiming to give creative expression of reality took a long time so that the changing nature of the poet’s own dilemmas, his own journey becomes evident.
I was a student of Comparative Literature and hence I have a natural inclination towards poetry and literature. I had the opportunity to study literature under such eminent scholars and literati like Pranabendu Dasgupta, Nabanita Dev Sen, Manabendra Bandyoadhyay, Amiya Deb et.al., which shaped my approach towards poetry. Any film which is based on poetry is always very difficult to make. Since it is not a performative art, it requires serious engagement from the audience. This film is not a typical biographic documentary. My narrative, the poet’s narrative and the audience’s narrative will intermingle with each other so that a multiplicity of perspective may appear and the constrictions of the filmic space can be broken. The film seeks to capture how poetry is born; what goes on in the mind of the poet before a couple of lines are written on the paper. I attempted to visually interpret the poems and believed that ‘dream-reality’ may become a constructive way to represent images that can supplement the poet’s words and the film can speak through its own contemplative language.
Moreover, Joy Goswami’s descriptions, anecdotes, and comments are itself poetry. I am certain that the extensive interviews with the poet are a great asset for the film, as he has painted his own desires, memories, and anxieties with words. I have tried to keep it as it is so that the audience may get a feeling of being up-close and personal with the poet at the same time they may absorb the lyrical quality of his conversation.
A media consultant and documentary film maker Malay Dasgupta (b. 1961) studied Comparative Literature in Jadavpur University, Kolkata. On completing his post-graduation he started making independent documentaries. His first documentary Dangling on a String (1991) was on the traditional puppet theatre of Bengal, following which he made a documentary on the last surviving musician of the Vishnupur Gharana of Indian classical music, Bindhyabasini (1993). He has made several documentaries like Song of my Life (2005) on Hindustani classical musician Smt. Gangubai Hangle, Amina Revisited (2006) on the trafficking of poor Muslim girls from Hyderabad to the Middle East, My Life, My Music (2008-09), a 3 part documentary on noted Indian musicians, Land of Eighteen Tides & One Goddess (2012) on the tiger cult of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest in the Gangetic delta, etc. His documentaries are screened in different film festivals in India and abroad.
Malay has worked extensively for different television channels and corporate production houses. He has conducted video film making workshops with the post-graduate students in the department of Film Studies in Jadavpur University and in the department of Mass Communication in Rajasthan University. He has also been the Head of the Department (Media), at the International School of Business & Media, Kolkata. Malay lives in Kolkata and is presently associated with CMI, a media institute promoted by the ABP Group, one of the largest media conglomerates in India.