Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Indian Coffee House, College Street

29th November 2013

Stayed at Hyderabad for more days than I intended to. I didn't want to go back at all. Had the director's study on Antonioni to do and hadn't watched enough films for that. Wasn't in any mood to do that. Even now I feel like going back there. But then again, life goes on.

Its my third semester here. In this one we are all supposed to do our demo films. We'll be doing three of them. Demo films are the ones directed by faculty and are assisted by us students. I personally don't see the point of this exercise but that's the way it is for now.
The first demo film will be directed by P Mahmood. She told us that she will be doing an excerpt from 'Crime and Punishment' by Dostoyevsky. It was an emarrassing moment when she asked how many of us had read the novel and only two had. She told me that its a shame that I haven't read it. Well, it is.

So in our first demo film we will have a young medical student who stays as a paying guest somehwhere in Kolkata kill his house owner. He takes this decision sitting in the famous Indian Coffee House in College Street. Yesterday RK, D Banerjee, S Moitra and I went there for a location recce. The place is just amazing. It buzzes. Thats what best describes it, I feel. People sit there for hours on end discussing all things under the sun. People once in there seldom leave. The Coffee House rings bells to remind people to leave and make space for new customers. There is a dark stairway leading to the place in the first floor. People do weed there. There are paintings lining the three walls. It was all so marvelous for me except for the constant buzz. But that's what makes the place what it is too.

But yesterday somehow in one of my bizarre trips of mind I started feeling very uneasy there with that group and left after a coffee. But I still remember the face of a very beautiful woman I saw there. She had springy hair and had a big round bindi. Was dusky. I was worse than men when I was ogling her. Must have done it for five whole minutes.

On the way back to the metro station, a man dressed in dhoti, shirt and a black overcoat like the old munshis passed me. He paused, turned back, came to me and asked me the way to College Street. I directed him. When he continued in Bangla I told him that I wasn't Bengali. He said that I looked like one. [I get that a lot here. Must be the kohl]. He said he was from Siliguri and that he didn't have children. I am used to strange things but I was starting to wonder where all that was going. He said he was an advocate and his wife a teacher. He asked me for my number, I refused. Then he gave me his number and said that he considered me his daughter and would like to have me over for lunch some time. I politely nodded and left.

Its interesting to observe people. Observation is one of the greatest tools any artist should possess and perfect, in my opinion. But sometimes intriguing things happen to you rather than having you as a silent observer. Its enough to get your mind thinking about the various possibilities of it in an artistic medium. I will never call this man, I know. But this incident is enough to make me think of him every time I visit Indian Coffee House, College Street.

Finished shoot there. Was a delightful experience. We were all given a food bata of a hundred and had sandwich after sandwich and coffee after coffee. The food is bad, but the place is a bustling hub of interesting people.

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