Can­ton­ment Tales

From rid­ing ele­phants to be­ing an ace sports­man, the Vicky Donor and Piku di­rec­tor shares what life was like in the In­dian Air Force camp


Kid of the Forces, Shoo­jit Sircar, Re-lives his Child­hood Mem­o­ries

Ace di­rec­tor Shoo­jit Sircar is the flavour of the In­dian cin­ema at the mo­ment with his lat­est re­leases Piku (2015) and Pink (2016) giv­ing the au­di­ence a slice of real life on reel. But, his child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences of stay­ing in In­dian Air Force (IAF) camps in Hasi­mara by the river Teesta and Bar­rack­pore in North Kolkata seem to be no less than a hit movie script.


With his fa­ther serv­ing in the IAF, young Sircar had an ar­ray of amuse­ments at his dis­posal in the can­ton­ment such as rid­ing trained ele­phants at the wildlife sanc­tu­ary in Har­si­mara. How­ever, not all was fun and games, as all de­fence prog­eny know very well. It has been re­ported that Sircar and his fam­ily, had to take un­der­ground shel­ter like many oth­ers dur­ing the 1971 war.

Yet, when asked about his child­hood grow­ing up with an IAF back­ground, the di­rec­tor-pro­ducer says, “My child­hood was very nor­mal. I never paid at­ten­tion to stud­ies be­cause I was very much into sports. Even my par­ents were cool about it and used to let me play. Sports have many ad­van­tages and if you let a child play all the time then he can re­main stress-free. Though, I would not deny that my par­ents didn’t compare me with other children but my case was not that se­vere as com­pared to to­day’s times.” Schooled in Ken­driya Vidyalaya in An­drews Gunj, Delhi and Bar­rack­pore, Kolkata, Sircar’s spe­cial mem­ory has to do with ex­ams, of course!

He told us, “I had some dreaded ex­am­i­na­tion mem­o­ries. I used to take max­i­mum exam pres­sure be­cause I was a poor stu­dent. I also feared re­sult days be­cause I knew I would get bad scores and my dad would get re­ally mad at me.”


Shoo­jit may have shared some of his ex­pe­ri­ences in movies such as Ya­haan (2005) and Madras Cafe (2013) but is in no mood to call it quits over the genre just yet. In re­sponse to our ques­tion if he would make more films in­spired by the de­fence forces, pat came the re­ply,“The armed forces are do­ing their job and I have full re­spect for the kind of risks they take. I will def­i­nitely make a film on the In­dian Air Force or Army.”

But when asked about his take on the is­sues sur­round­ing the re­lease of Aiyaary, the new de­fence drama star­ring Manoj Ba­j­pai and Sid­harth Mal­ho­tra, Sircar spoke from his own ex­pe­ri­ence. He says, “I re­ally don’t know what the is­sue is all about but I can tell you about my film. In Madras Cafe, Army and pol­i­tics were in­volved but I didn’t go through that much pres­sure at that time as com­pared to the films now. I didn’t take any help from the In­dian Army for the film I had made. We are a demo­cratic coun­try but when­ever some­body makes a film it is al­ways so that some­body or the other will surely protest. Just like they have ev­ery right to protest, we also have right to make a film and we have govern­ment bod­ies to de­cide what’s wrong and right.”

“The armed forces are do­ing their job and I have full re­spect for the kind of risks they take. I will def­i­nitely make a film on the In­dian Air Force or Army,” says Shoo­jit Sircar

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