Tales from Planet Kolkata

Tales from Planet Kolkata

Dir: Ruchir Joshi / India / 38 minutes / Hindi, Bengali, English / 1993


Part fiction, part spoof, part essay, part documentary, the film weaves together disparate strands: a critique of Western media’s construction, from the 1960s to the 1990s; of Calcutta as ‘the black hole’ and ‘the worst place in the world’; an ‘elegy’ to Deepak Majumdar, one of  Calcutta’s great intellectual mavericks, a teacher and friend to Joshi and many others, who died while the film was being made; and the images and song of a patua – a traditional Bengali scroll-painter.

Starting with a variation on the opening of Apocalypse Now, moving through the performance-interpretations of the scroll-painter, the film-maker and Tony Cokes, an Afro-American video-artist from New York, the film asks questions about one’s sense of place and belonging, about the links between memory and image, and about the permanence and transience of this thing we call ‘culture’. While referring to the reconstruction of Calcutta in the Hollywood production of City of Joy, (the film based on Dominique Lapierre’s bestseller) or weaving a fantasy about getting Jack Nicholson to act as Majumdar in a film on the latter’s life, the film asks: can ‘the worst place in the world’ be anywhere else but in your eyes and your heart?

Director biography and filmography:

Ruchir Joshi was born in Kolkata, India in 1960. He gained a Bachelor of Arts degree and works as a writer, columnist and filmmaker. Tales from Planet Kolkata was digitally restored in 2018, alongside other films of Joshi. His works include Egaro Mile (Eleven Miles), Memories of Milk City, Tales from Planet Kolkata, Dream Before Wicket, A Mercedes for Ashish, Gurgaon Giraffe, New Dream Local, Shahid – Slow-Hand Groove, My Rio, My Tokyo


Editor- Reena Mohan
Cinematographer – Ranjan Palit
Sound – Suresh Rajamani
Original Sound and Music – Vikram Joglekar and Dee Wood
Original Patachitra and Song – Dukkhoshyam Chitrakar
Script and Texts – Ruchir Joshi, Tony Cokes


Loic, R. Joshi, Tony Cokes, Paritosh