Visit to Satyajit Ray Film School in Kolkata

November 22, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

In 2006, I launched the Goldsmiths MA in Filmmaking. The programme is currently evolving into the new Goldsmiths Screen School. The purpose of my visit to India is to combine lectures on Visual Storytelling with stimulating awareness of the Screen School and meeting prospective applicants.

On my first evening in Mumbai, its great to catch up with friend and ex-student Richie Taneja at the Taj Palace Coffee House in Colaba.  

Next morning, its time to dive into a week of lectures and meeting agents and prospective students at University Media Departments and Recruitment Fares around India. I especially enjoy giving talks at Indira School of Communication and FAD International Academy in Pune, a short flight from Mumbai.

On Wednesday morning, I need to catch an early morning flight from Pune to Kolkata. However, on checking out of my hotel, I realise that I’ve left my wallet at a Fabindia store the previous evening (divine retribution). 

The delay caused by my lack of necessary plastic at hotel check-out and flight check-in means that by the time I make it through to the departure lounge my name is being paged all around the airport. It turns out that the plane is already fully boarded and is waiting for a final passenger - guess who ?

This leads to a mad dash across the tarmac to my waiting plane, dodging luggage trolleys and the like (so wish I had a picture of this). I’m sorry to admit that I was that late person that everyone stares at for holding up the flight.

The highlight of my trip to Kolkata is a visit to the Satyijat Ray Film School - the most prestigious film school in India. My visit is facilitated by the very wonderful Debashish Ghoshal, Head of Sound Design.

It is my great pleasure to meet Neeraj Sahay, Professor of Cinematography at SRFTI and to spend time with his students on a moonlit lighting setup. They are filming with an Arriflex 435 35mm film camera - very nice too !

My colleague Edd, from Goldsmiths International Office and myself hold exploratory meetings with Director of SRFTI, Professor Sanjaya Pattanayak and the Dean of SRFTI, Professor Nilotpal Majumdar about initiating a collaborative relationship between Satjiyat Ray Film School and the new Goldsmiths Screen School.

In addition, it is encouraging for myself personally to have the opportunity to discuss my Isolates AVPhD project with Satyajit Ray staff. Nalanda is a relatively short distance away, and Debashish is hoping to put me in touch with some Bengali scholars of Pala Dynasty Art.

At the end of the week I find time to pursue my research at the Indian Museum in Kolkata. However much of the permanent collection of Buddhist Art is currently in an exhibition in Tokyo until May. (Luckily, I have a possibility of catching this exhibition at the end of March.)

Lotus of the HeartLotus of the Heart When checking out the publications unit, I chance upon one of my favourite passages from Chandogya Upanishad (slightly modified):


In the city of Darshana

There is a secret dwelling

Called the Lotus of the Heart


Inside that dwelling 

There is a space

And inside that space

Lies the fulfilment of all your desire . . .

This is my first visit to Kolkata and I love the colour and infectious energy of the city. Just driving around the streets in a yellow Ambassador taxi or jumping on a tram is an exuberant experience.

For now though its time to head back to London for the last few weeks of term at Goldsmiths, although I hope to return to Kolkata before long.

Special thank you to Ritwika.

Meanwhile my hotel in Pune have retrieved my wallet from Fabindia. But I’m hundreds of miles away on the other side of India and about to fly back to London. Hmmm . . .


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