Suman Ghosh's "Shyamal Kaku, Corporationer Baati, Ebong…" (Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights) "Socially Realist" Bengali Movie

Bengali film poster: Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights

New York, NY, Dec 28, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Internationally acclaimed multiple award-winning Bengali-American film writer-director Suman Ghosh's fifth film "Shyamal Kaku, Corporationer Baati, Ebong…" (English title: Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights) in Bangla with English subtitles is continuing to generate great interest in the international film festival circuit. The film has been selected for the 17th BUSAN International Film Festival's Window on Asian Cinema and 14th Mumbai Film Festival's India Gold Competition Section.


Watch a Clip from "Shyamal Kaku, Corporationer Baati, Ebong…" / Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights

The Global Film Initiative and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York will present  the North American Premiere of Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights with the first screening on Friday, January 11, 4:30 PM, MoMA, Titus Theater 1 and re-screening on Thursday, January 17, 7:00 PM, MoMA, Titus Theater 2. This is an exciting development for Bengali films, given that only a handful of films have been screened at MoMA previously (Herbert, Kalpurush and Bong Connection). The North American premiere in MoMA also marks only the second time after Pather Panchali to get a theatrical release there.

Stills from the film Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights

This new 73-minute Bengali film by Suman Ghosh revolves around the character of Shyamal Kaku (Uncle), an octogenarian retiree living with his wife in the old Kolkata neighborhood of Paikpara. One day he notices the street lights near his house are left on even during the day. He finds it unconscionable to let this waste go on and decides to take action.

Shyamal Kaku then talks to a number of people - from the local vendor to the local political leader; from the electricity officer to the police officer. But no one even bothers to listen to him and he is given the runaround. Even his wife is skeptical of his endeavor.

Drawing a contrast with the mundane existence of his personal life, the film is a story of Shyamal Uncle’s journey as he fights the brush offs, insults, and skepticism with one single goal – turn off the lights.

Suman GhoshThe film is distributed in North America by Global Film Initiative (GFI) as part of their Global Lens 2013 series.

Writer-director Suman Ghosh says, "Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights is based on a real incident which happened to our protagonist who also performs as himself in the film. The obsession of Shyamal Uncle for an apparently insignificant purpose contrasted with his own life is what drew me to the subject from a narrative point of view. I wanted to make a socially realist film that, at the same time, is an intimate character portrait. On the other hand the process of film making has always excited me a lot. In this film I attempt a novel way of shooting which I believe enhances the basic narrative. Most of the characters in the film have never faced a camera before and hence the performance brought about the innocence and immediacy which I needed for the film. The script also developed as we were shooting the film."

"For example some of the characters were chosen on location and often they didn’t know that they were being shot for a film. Only Shyamal Uncle’s script was written beforehand and after he approached a character, the scenes developed from there on. At times even I didn’t know what was going to emerge in a particular scene. The exhilarating aspect of shooting in such a process was that it often generated spontaneous reactions which could not have been scripted. It is a film made in a truly “cinema-verite” style. I attempt another experiment in this film where I mix genres. I have always believed that a genre should be dictated by the narrative and wondered whether genres can be comingled within a film to achieve a desired effect thus enhancing the ultimate impact of the film. In contrast with the rest of the film, the end takes on a surrealistic tone which I thought was necessary to bring about the exhilaration and the poignancy with which the film aspires to connect with the viewer", Suman added.

"Amartya Sen: A Life Reexamined", a documentary on the life and work of the only living Nobel Laureate from India is Suman's first film. "Podokkhep" (Footsteps) is his debut feature film which won two National Awards and has been screened at many international festivals worldwide such as in New York, New Delhi, Karlovy Vary, Seattle and others. His next Feature film titled Dwando made in 2009 was selected in the Indian Panorama Section at the International Film Festival of India in Goa the same year. In 2011 he completed his third feature film "Nobel Chor" (Nobel Thief) starring Mithun Chakraborty which had a world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in Korea in October 2011 and was an official selection for BFI London Film Festival 2011. It won the Best Film Award at the Chitrabharathi Competition Section of 2011 Bengaluru International Film Festival.

Credits

  • Written & Directed by Suman Ghosh
  • Producer Arindam Ghosh
  • Executive Producer Colin Burrows
  • Director of Photography Ranjan Palit
  • Sound Designer Jojo Chaki, Anirban Sengupta
  • Editor Sujay Datta Ray
  • Background Score Mayookh Bhaumik
  • Production Controller Saubhik Das
  • Film Partner Dream Digital. Inc.
  • Script Consultants Shyamal Bhattacharya, Arindam Ghosh
  • Subtitles Arindam Ghosh

Cast

  • Shyamal Uncle: Shyamal Bhattacharya
  • Shyamal Uncle's Wife: Suparna Chatterjee
  • Shyamali (Maid): Archana Mandal
  • Gopal: Gopal Roy
  • Subrata (Councilor): Sameer Dutta
  • Shyamal Uncle's friends: Ananda Roy, Ashim Sarkar, Tarun Ghosh, Asim Mitra
  • Man at electricity office counter: Avijit Chaudhury
  • Man at electricity office: Avishek Ghosh
  • Manager at electricity office: Abhijit Guha
  • Senior Manager at Electricity office: Arindam Ghosh
  • Switch Operator: Nimai Ghosh
  • Man 1 at Maintenance office: Saubhik Das
  • Man 2 at Maintenance office: Indranil Ghosh


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