Tales from Planet Kolkata

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 Kolkata as ‘the black hole’ and ‘the worst place in the world’; an ‘elegy’ to Deepak Majumdar, one of Kolkata’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 filmmaker himself, and an African-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 Kolkata 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?
by Ruchir Joshi
with Loic, Ruchir Joshi, Tony Cokes, Paritosh Sau
India 1993 Bengali, English, Hindi 38’ Colour Documentary form


  • Loic (Apocalypse Man)
  • Ruchir Joshi (French Cineaste)
  • Tony Cokes (Rickshaw Puller)
  • Paritosh Sau (Blue Man)


Director Ruchir Joshi
Screenplay Ruchir Joshi, Tony Cokes
Cinematography Ranjan Palit
Editing Reena Mohan
Music Vikram Joglekar, Dee Wood
Sound Suresh Rajamani
Production Manager Dinesh Raut
Producer Ruchir Joshi
Restoration Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst

Produced by

Hit Films

Ruchir Joshi

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.


1991 Egaro Mile (Eleven Miles); 155 min. · Memories of Milk City; 13 min. 1993 Tales from Planet Kolkata; 38 min. 1994 Dream Before Wicket; 50 min. 2005 A Mercedes for Ashish; 30 min. 2006 Gurgaon Giraffe; 6 min., video loop 2008 New Dream Local; 11 min., video loop 2010 Shahid – Slow-Hand Groove; 6 min. 2012 My Rio, My Tokyo; 52 min. / 75 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019