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Lokvani Talks To Chitravanu And Ruma Neogy

Anil Saigal

Ruma and Chitro Neogy are the founders of a wonderful Indian Film Festival called Caledioscope where they presented a well curated list of fabulous non-commercial films in multiple languages. They talked to Lokvani about the film festival. Please check out Caledioscope at http://www.indianfilmfestivalboston.com/2019-films

Could you tell us a little about your professional life? 

I've been a software professional and technology entrepreneur throughout my career. Currently I am a senior product manager at Dell EMC. I also am an advisor to a Dubai based fintech company called TradeAssets that securely automates interbank trade finance origination processes. My education was in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Kanpur, continuing on for a Masters from the University of Cincinnati. I also hold a MS from MIT's Sloan School of Management.

Ruma is a business analyst by profession, currently working at Acorda Pharmaceuticals of Chelsea. She graduated in Civil Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in Dhaka, and then completed her Masters in Environmental Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. She worked for many years as an environmental engineer before deciding to switch to business analysis in computing.

What motivated you to start a film festival in Boston?

We have always been intrigued and active in various unique community-based, entrepreneurial and cultural initiatives. Once our kids went to college and we had more time, we started Calcutta Club USA, largely as a fun group, but also to experiment with certain unmet, nostalgic events. The first of these, in 2015, was the Sanskriti Book Fair, where Indian literary giants like Shashi Tharoor and Chitra Banerjee Divyakurani spoke over skype. The event brought out many book lovers and lit fans, and galvanized us to think of similar distinctive public events not available in the Boston community. Caleidoscope was the next logical invention, exactly five years back when there wasn't a single similar Indian Film Festival in New England. It was incredible because neither we not our club members had much connectivity to these writers, performing artists or directors but we discovered we are pretty good in project management and learning fast about industries and the underlying business. Caleidoscope started with a single day screening of 5 films in Hindi, Bengali, Telegu and English. We have never looked back and today the event is the only IMDB recognized South Asian film festival in New England. We also have moved the festival under a new non profit called Indian Arts Boston from this year.

Could you tell us a little about Caleidoscope 2019?

Caleidoscope Indian Film Festival 2019 will run from Thu, Sept 5th through Sun the 8th, across 4 venues and showcase 11 contemporary, independent films along with 4 short films, each covering a unique social niche.  We run our films mostly in commercial theaters that are conveniently located across Indian settlements. This year, we are very pleased to add O'Neil cinemas, Littleton, which is likely the modern and recently constructed theater with fully reclining seats and variety of in-hall dining options. We will also screen films at Lexington Venues, Apple Cinema and our academic institution partner, the Rhode Island College in Providence. Caleidoscope 2019 has an extremely powerful set of films, starting with the emotional Nagarkirtan (Bengali) that has won 4 National Film awards in 2018, KD (Tamil), and Sir, the 2018 Cannes Festival nominee from India along with Manto. We are happy that many anticipated films this year have trusted us with their initial screening with the World Premiere of Oxygen, North American Premiere of Tarikh, Kolkatay Kohinoor, Chintu Ka Birthday, Encryted - The Cyber Crime, and Abyakto.

Film personalities including producers, directors and actors of 6 of the 15 films will be present at the festival and the award ceremony on Sep 8th. We do not offer awards to cinema personalities not connected with the actually screened films. Caleidoscope places a huge emphasis on merit based judging and a qualified jury panel spends sufficient time to ensure consensus upon the winners. Unlike many fests, we actually give cash awards along with trophies to filmmakers for most categories.

You can find all details of films, timings and ticketing links at www.indianfilmfestivalboston.com/2019-films

How do you select the films for the presentation?

We received over 300 films this year from various sources and platforms. We have a small but dedicated set of curators and programmers who view these films and pick candidates based on certain criteria that the film projects. Each film is expected to leave a distinct impression on the viewers that can be the fuel of future discussions and perhaps positive disruptions.

What makes non-commercial films special ?

Away from Bollywood, Tollywood and other juggernaut producers of popular cinema, there are a bunch of independent, often impoverished filmmakers who see the world as it is and can depict the story in the same vein. They are not afraid to show the truth, and want people to acknowledge the reality, if only as the first step to a better world. 90% of creations of such talented directors do not ever make it to a theater. Festivals like Caleidoscope are a conduit for their message to reach the public. And so, in movies like Namdev Bhau, Abyakto, Sir or Nagarkirtan, there is an element of pathos but it serves to highlight an unorthodox insight or self realization that the director wishes everyone to experience. You will feel this theme after each screening of Caleidoscope 2019.

Any special message for our readers?

The theaters will the ready, the filmmakers too and of course all of us organizers at Caleidocope to deliver another stunning set of Indian cinema at its best. Please buy your tickets online early, as you can lock in your preferred seats, next to your preferred friends and ensure your preferred film does not get sold out! Please come out with your gang and enjoy the 4 days in the movies, while supporting India's emerging crop of thespian talent. The link for tickets again is: http://www.indianfilmfestivalboston.com/2019-films

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