On the afternoon of 15th of June, Friday, I was a little worried. The notice board outside says, if at least 20 people doesn’t turned up, the show will be cancelled. And a 1:30 pm show in a hot & humid afternoon, on a working day, is not the most ideal time for our Assamese film Xhoixobote Dhemalite/RainbowFields to start its journey in Kolkata’s Nandan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nandan_(Kolkata). To make the matter more complicated, our PR guy for Kolkata ditched us big time – there was almost no coverage of the release in Kolkata till then. What more, I had couriered the posters of our film from Mumbai one day before my departure, thinking it will be up in the complex at least a day before the show. Big mistake, the posters are lost in transition, with the different city brunches of the courier company trying to solve the mystery.In short, Mr Murphy had proclaimed his undying love for me all over again.
I called up Sanjeev Baishya, who was helping me to spread the message among Kolkata’s Assamese Community purely out of goodwill, inquiring whether at least 20 Assamese people from Kolkata will show up – nobody wants the first day first show of the film to be cancelled. He doesn’t sound too optimistic – although he & Anuj Gogoi has done their best, after all it a working day afternoon. As if by magic, by 1 pm the hall started filling up.. so much so that it become a full house by 1:30 pm ! And Anuj told me that not more than 15% of the audience are Assamese people!! I was stunned, to put it mildly. The officials of Nandan had given me a knowing smile – ‘we told you, Nandan doesn’t need extra publicity for its film – we Bengali know how to appreciate arts. Now just relax – words of mouth will take over & the film will speak for itself ‘. I was still in a state of shock – although it seemed like the most natural & logical explanation, it can’t be true – not in today’s materialistic, promotion-centric world! But when the experience repeated in the next two days, I had no option but to surrender to the inevitability of this truth! One Bengali gentleman confided that he stopped reading the English subtitle after the first 5 minutes – he didn’t need it to follow the film. Another gentleman told me on Sunday that he is a repeat audience – he had already experienced the film once on Saturday.
Actually, in the Sunday’s houseful show I had experienced something which I will carry with me for a long while – as there is no online booking service at Nandan’s audi 2, people started to line up for ticket from around 12 pm and by 1:15 or so, the hall was already jammed pack – but the inflow of the people continued. The seats reserved for the guests have disappeared and parents started shifting the younger children to their laps to vacate more seats, still we were short of space! Finally few audiences from far east sat down on the steps of the hall to enjoy the film! Not sure how people kept on coming in long after houseful board is put up. Not sure whether the Bengali security guard of Nandan – whose home & heart lies in Assam & is immensely proud to see an Assamese film running commercially in Nandan- had anything to do with it. Not that I’m complaining :). As a filmmaker, I always believed – strongly – that human emotions have a universal language. But at times, some experiences had made me question my belief … thank you Kolkata for reaffirming my faith!
After returning to Mumbai on Monday, I kept a tab on the journey of the film in Nandan. Monday & Tuesday were unusually hot & humid even by Kolkata standards – I’m being told. State govt. declared a holiday for schools & colleges. Obviously, the attendance of the noon show at Nandan also got affected. “But if you look at the occupancy ratio, Rainbow Fields is performing better than the other films” – am being told. And then I got another encouraging piece of news – Kolkata received a much desired spell of shower on Wednesday and looking at the response of the audience, Nandan decided to give our film another week of run :). A filmmaker friend from Kolkata, Shyamal Karmakar, messaged me, “after the soothing rain today..Rainbow will be brighter for sure. 🙂
P/s – Xhoixobote Dhemalite (Rainbow fields) is having a special screening in Bangalore on the evening of 24th of June, Sunday. Friends from Bangalore, you can book your tickets on https://in.bookmyshow.com/buytickets/inox-garuda-mall-magrath-road/cinema-bang-INBG-MT/20180624#!seatlayout
Note-Latest update received is that while online booking for the screening at Bangalore is almost houseful, there are a few seats available at the box office counter of Inox as per their policy.