From the River to River: The Story of Durga Puja
This is a documentary film by Dr. Alkananda Mukerji, a Professor of Art at the Manhattanville College. She is a well-renowned artist, and has exhibited extensively both in the US and internationally. However, as an ever-evolving artist, Professor Mukerji has recently become interested in documentary films. Even though she is not from Kolkata, she committed to the city of Kolkata her first foray in filmmaking. After one year of shooting, and with 300 hours of footage she came up with a 25-30 minute documentary on Durga Puja. The film premiered last year at the Indian Consulate in New York and was also shown at an International film festival in New York.
The film is about the artisans of Kumartuli in the northern part of Kolkata, India. Kumartuli is a Bengali word that literally means potters’ town (in Bengali, a potter is Kumor or Kumar). This is a neighborhood of artisans whose primary medium is clay, clay that is collected from the silt of the Hooghly River flowing close by. The Kumartuli artists have been working with this medium for generations. Legend has it that the first artisan lived and worked here 400 years ago. In earlier generations, these artists used to use this clay to create miniature figurines and also life-size statues or head studies. Over the years, their focus has shifted to the creation of larger than life idols (effigies) of the various Hindu deities that are used for the multitude of festivals throughout the year.
Press release by P. K. Banerjee