Private Project

Lake of Fleeting Lights

The documentary is an introspective journey in Time with Joy Goswami, a leading Indian poet, through his writings, his memories and dreams. It explores the creative angst of a sexagenarian poet, settled in an urban milieu and in somewhat disconcerting time that provokes an existential dilemma in his self. Writing for more than four decades, poetry for Joy Goswami has always been a device for negotiating with his ‘self’ and ‘time’. As the poet encounters individual and societal difficulties, his struggle does not remain confined only within himself, but points to similar struggles of art and artists all over the world. This impressionistic documentary, interspersed with recitations of his poems, anecdotes and remembrance, provides a rare glimpse of a poet’s mind, touching everything from the mundane to the sublime. The film traces the poet’s very own way of negotiating the present dilemma, and his endeavor to craft a sublime tapestry of poetic images, like the fleeting lights on a placid lake that may turn out to be the reservoir of life to carry on in this dark world.

  • Malay Dasgupta
  • Malay Dasgupta
  • Films Division of India
  • Joy Goswami
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 19 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    16,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Bengali, English
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Kolkata International Film Festival, 2016
    November 17, 2016
    22nd Kolkata International Film Festival, 2016
Distribution Information
  • Films Division of India
    Country: India
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Malay Dasgupta

A media consultant and documentary film maker Malay Dasgupta (b.1961) studied Comparative Literature in Jadavpur University, Kolkata. On completing his post-graduation he started making independent documentaries. His first documentary Dangling on a String (1991) was on the traditional puppet theatre of Bengal, following which he made a documentary on the last surviving musician of the Vishnupur Gharana of Indian classical music, Bindhyabasini (1993). He has made several documentaries like Song of my Life (2005) on Hindustani classical musician Smt. Gangubai Hangle, Amina Revisited (2006) on the trafficking of poor Muslim girls from Hyderabad to the Middle East, My Life, My Music (2008-09), a 3 part documentary on noted Indian musicians, Land of Eighteen Tides & One Goddess (2012) on the tiger cult of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest in the Gangetic delta, etc. His documentaries are screened in different film festivals in India and abroad.

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Director Statement

The documentary explores the life and work of Joy Goswami, one of the most celebrated Indian poets of our time. Instead of looking at a award winning, critically acclaimed poet sitting in the ivory tower of creative expressions, the film highlights the existential dilemma of a sensitive human being resulting out of the shifting ethical and ideological conditions. The film, at the same time, traces the poet’s very own way of negotiating this dilemma of the present time, and his endeavor to craft a sublime tapestry of poetic images that might turn out to be the reservoir of life to carry on in this decaying world.

Born in 1954, Joy Goswami spent his childhood in the small town of Ranaghat, away from the city. He started writing poems as an adolescent boy and kept on writing against all odds. After a long period of writing in little magazines and periodicals, his writing was finally published in the leading Desh Patrika, which brought him immediate critical acclaim, a number of prestigious awards, including the Sahitya Akademi Award and established him as one of the most influential Indian poets of the present era. He has more than thirty published books of poems, amounting to more than one thousand poems. He has also written twelve novels, two in verse and five collections of essays related to interpretation of poetry.

His poems are brutal, in their expressions and in the impact of their crisscrossed images. His poems place the reader in front of a mirror, and compel them to encounter a transformative experience, making the readers uncomfortable, anxious. Writing for more than four decades, poetry for Joy Goswami has always been a device for negotiating with his ‘self’ and ‘time’.

Instead of positioning him in the lofty ideal of a self assured poet, this impressionistic documentary highlights everyday uncertainties, anxieties and resistance of a poet, who is still struggling to navigate his journey not only through his poetic expressions but also through a wide range of texts, ideas and worldviews. His ideological and existential predicaments coerce him to read and reread Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, which has become almost like a subtext of his own life.

As the poet struggles amidst individual and societal difficulties, fighting with his poor health, tumultuous political conditions, trying to curve out a niche in the profit driven publication market, his struggle does not remain confined only within Bengal or India, but points to similar struggles of art and artists all over the world.

The filmmaker’s long and intimate association with the poet provides the film a privileged entry point to enter the rich and varied poetic world of this fiercely private poet. Thus the making of the film itself is also a crucial part of the documentary, since instead of creating the usual objective, uninvolved framing of the subject, the imposed authority of the frame is broken and the poet’s interactions with the filmmaking process spill over outside the frame. The visuals reflect this dialectics between the subjective and the objective and aim to resemble the structural pattern of poetry.

Devoid of commentary, the film develops as a non-chronological stream of memories recalled by the poet in response to different recurrent tropes in his poems. The structure of the documentary, in contrast to usual biographic documentaries, is discontinuous and episodic and combines soliloquies, dreams and memories. Different colour tones, including black and white, are used to signify experiential shifts. The hard lighting and frequent washed out cinematography along with the free floating, mnemonic images might resemble the stream of consciousness method.