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Kahini 1995 105’ col Bengali d/p/co-st Malay Bhattacharya pc Movie Mill co-p Chandramala Bhattacharya co-sc Shyamal c Sunny Joseph m Debajyoti Mishra lp Dhritiman Chatterjee, Debesh Roy Choudhury, Debashish Goswami, Robi Ghosh, Anuradha Ghatak, Suranjana Dasgupta, Soumomoy Bakshi, Neelkantha Sengupta

Innovative debut feature by the TV producer and designer Bhattacharya in the tradition of Chakraborty’s Kaal Abhirati (1989) and Vishwanathan’s Sunya Theke Suru (1993). The story, told with a very sparse soundtrack, revolves around three characters, a kind of intellectual (Chatterjee), a taxi driver and a billboard painter, who drug and kidnap a child (hanging on to a notion of childhood) and set out for the countryside in their blue Ambassador car, initiating India’s first explicit attempt at a road movie. The genre’s obligatory quota of ‘strange encounters’ demarcate two major sequences: a villager who has poisoned his entire family and is caught before he can commit suicide, and the monologue of a petrol station attendant. The kidnappers shelter in an old house where they unsuccessfully try to revive the unconscious infant, which dies, causing the trio to disintegrate. A parallel theme deals with a peasant family blissfully optimistic about finding a cure for their crippled son. The film ends with the acrobatic rehearsals, in the rain, of a travelling circus group introduced earlier as a kind of choral motif.