Title: Jonaki
Language: Bengali
Release date: n/a
Genre: Fantasy Drama
Duration: 95min
Subtitle: English

While Jonaki, an 80-year-old woman, searches for love in a strange world of decaying memories, her lover, now old and grey, returns to a world she is leaving behind.

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Direction: Aditya Vikram Sengupta | Cast: Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Lolita Chatterjee, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Jim Sarbh

Writing Credits: Aditya Vikram Sengupta
Co-producer: Catherine Dussart
Executive producer: Vikram Mohinta
Line producer: Maxwel Nagpal
Producer: Samir Sarkar
Associate producer: Aditya Thayi
Music: Alexander Zekke
Cinematography: Aditya Vikram Sengupta, Mahendra Shetty
Production Design: Jonaki Bhattacharya
Sound designer: Hindole Chakraborty
Foley artist: Uttam Naskar
Foley Recording and Edit: Akash Sengupta
Visual effects supervisor: Dhrutiranjan Sahoo
Colorist: Debojyoti Ghosh, Sidharth Meer
Aspect Ratio: 1:2.35
Sound: 5.1
Year of Production: 2018
Country of Production: India, France, Singapore


“Jonaki” is firefly in Bengali. Fireflies are magical. They flicker, and between each flicker of light they have moved on. My grandmother used to tell me that fireflies are part of a Japanese folktale in which the souls of the dead turn into fireflies and wander into the forest.
“Jonaki” is inspired from the life of my grandmother, who I was incredibly fond of and shared an indelible bond with. She grew up in a now nearly extinct class of affluent, aristocratic and anglicised family, the kinds that would attend ball dances and had high-teas. However, her life was marked with pain and suffering. Her father passed away when she was just six. Her mother was authoritarian. Despite being in love with a Christian boy, she was forcefully married at the age of 16, and understandably, my grandfather and she never got along. Chronicles of her life became the subject of my bedtime stories. Before she passed away, she lay in coma for 4 days with her eyes slightly open while she kept murmuring in her trance. I wondered what was she thinking?
A few months after her death, I began to have terrible nightmares – sometimes waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of explosions and gunshots like the way she had described them to me from her memories of the war.
‘Jonaki’ is an amalgamation of what i imagined was going on in my grandmothers head when she was in coma and the echoes of my nightmare. Is it a recollection of memories and thoughts from the unfulfilled life of an 80-year-old woman. It is a tale of the pain of denied love. It is my attempt to come to terms with my grandmother’s passing.
Spaces are just not visual, they are an atmosphere. I wanted the viewers to smell the dampness in the decaying walls of a room that was once the seat of celebration but now an abandoned space filled with roots and creepers.
“Jonaki” is an attempt to recreate this experience through cinematic language. It tries to bring the above elements together in a spontaneous, organic and honest mis en scene.

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