Mahul Brahma’s debut short film as an actor selected by Cannes jury

Kolkata: As many as six Bengali films have been shortlisted for the Cannes short film corner that will be held between May 11 and 22. They are among the 40 films from India to have been selected for the same section.

The selected short films are Anirban Guha's 'Elixir', Abhiroop Basu's 'Afternoon With Julia' ('Cum Iulia Meridiem'), Aniket Chattopadhyay's 'Saubala', Lubdhak Chatterjee's 'In A Free State', Charles Kinnane's 'Generation Hope' and Moumita Mondal's 'Adieu'.

Guha's 35-minute film is about a journey that begins in a cafe. Basu's film, starring Neha Panda and Samadrashi Dutta, is about a casual conversation between a young couple, while 'Saubala' is a fantasy drama that comes with the tagline - Rebirth of Shakuni. Mondal's 12-minute 'Adieu' looks at a hospital ward through the eyes of a young boy admitted there. 'In a Free State' deals with the story of an aspiring filmmaker and an artist who paints amputated figures. They embark on a journey to explore the true essence of freedom when their choices are antagonistic to popular social norms.

While all these films are in Bengali, Kinnane's 34-minute 'Generation Hope' has been made in Bengali, Creole and English. It was filmed at Mary's Meals projects in Malawi, Haiti and India and shows what difference receiving a daily meal in school can make to children growing up in some of the world's poorest communities.

An Economics masters from Kolkata's Indian Statistical Institute, Guha works in a multinational bank. "I used to do theatre in school and college. Post that, I also did stage productions in Bangalore and Delhi. Eventually, I wanted to tell my story to more people and wanted to experiment further. That pulled me into filmmaking," he said. His film stars Daminee Basu, Arindom Ghosh, Mahul Brahma and Dr Koushik Dutta.

Guha will be off to Cannes for the screening. Accompanying him will be wife Sinjini Sengupta, who wrote the story on which 'Elixir' is based. "When my husband decided to make a short film based on my story, the first question was finance. Some fixed deposits were dissolved. Good friends had volunteered to do their bit, too. Cast, crew, searches and many calls later, we found ourselves in Kolkata. Mine is basically a story of magic realism and a journey of the soul," said Sinjini.

Basu claims he made 'Afternoon With Julia' keeping Cannes short film corner in mind. Samadarshi, who has already started receiving congratulatory messages, said, "Abhiroop is a young director, but I can say he is someone to watch out for. This film was part of his student project. I have watched some of his earlier works and they have a lot of promise.""After completing my schooling from South Point, I had studied commerce at St Xavier's College. But I always wanted to make movies. My earlier films had gone to some festivals and won accolades there too. But none of that was in the league of Cannes," Abhiroop said.

However, he won't be making it to the French Festival. "For a middle class family, it isn't easy to go to Cannes without any financial assistance. I am happy that my film is going. May be, some years later, I too will be able to make it to Cannes too," he said.

But before that happens, Abhiroop will be off to Prague in September to study cinema at the Prague Film School.




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