Birsa Dasgupta announces Hawa Banduk, to capture the tumultuous 70s in Calcutta

Back in the 70s, Kolkata faced a tumultuous period. As the rest of India dealt with the Emergency, West Bengal was witnessing another revolution — the Naxal movement. Many noted films of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen captured the unrest of those times and bore testimony to what happened during the period.

Now, filmmaker Birsa Dasgupta has decided to tell a story set against this backdrop. His latest film ‘Hawa Banduk’ (Air Gun) is a love story set against 70s Calcutta with the focus on the Naxal movement in the city. Birsa, however, has not used the word Naxal in his work. “I have used the word revolutionary instead of Naxal. Decades back, Naxal had a certain romanticism attached to it. But now, it’s a much-maligned word. Similarly, the Congress, which was in power in 70s Calcutta, has just been referred to as power or khomota in the film,” says Birsa.

The film tells the story of the coming-of-age of Ruku, an adolescent from a middle-class family in Baranagar, caught at the threshold of manhood. The dark times have been encapsulated in the character of Biloo, a local goon who is at loggerheads with the revolutionary Shankar da, Ruku’s idol. Ruku’s world of rainbows comes crashing as politics, jealousy and violence engulf him. The metaphorical air gun suddenly becomes a grim reality with gunpowder plastered all over the walls of Ruku’s favourite city.

Yet love blossoms amidst the impending darkness. On one hand is the love story of Shankar da and Mohor while on the other is the budding romance between Ruku and Jhinook. Finally comes that fateful day when the lives of these five people are changed forever. Birsa says, “‘Hawa Banduk’ is a personal tale of intense love and true friendship, which is bombarded by the changing climate of the times.”

The cast of the film is interesting. “It’s a mixture of the best of mainstream and alternative film actors,” says Birsa. While his elder daughter Meghla is debuting in the film (she plays Jhinook), Rahul Arunoday Banerjee, Riddhi Sen (Ruku), Kaushik Sen, Bidipta Chakraborty, Ankush Hazra and Oindrilla Sen also play important roles.

The film will go on floors mid-September or October.


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