Having grown up watching classics by Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, Russia-born German actress Elena Kazan says Ghatak's Jukti Takko Gappo has the most profound influence on her view about world cinema.
Elena, in town to shoot for Asish Shukla's Hindi film Prague, says she has watched Ghatak's Komol Gandhar, Ajantrik, Bari Theke Paliye and Meghe Dhaka Tara over and over again to grasp what it means for people affected by Partition - be it in India or in Germany.
Elena is in love with Kolkata which she has visited a number of times. "I feel the smell of places, sights overpowering.
They fail to leave me even when I go back to my hotel room," she said adding Prague has enabled her to renew the bond with the metropolis.
About Prague's storyline, she told PTI, "I am a Czech girl who falls in love with an Indian techie (essayed by Chandan Roy Sanyal) who visited her city Prague coming from faraway Kolkata."
She said that extensive shots of the College Street Coffee House, Burrabazar, Chitpur, tram lines and cobwebbed old mansions as well as of gothic churches and boulevards in Prague have brought out the two cities in contrasting colours.
"Outwardly, the two cities appear in the film in contrasting colours, sights very much like the two principal characters, me and Chandan, an Indian and a Russia-born German. But in the core, the two cities retain their identicalness."
Elena's previous Hindi films are Gandhi to Hitler and Agent Vinod featuring Saif Ali Khan. Drawing a comparison between Hindi commercial films and Bengali films in general, she said that while the former celebrate life in a 'popular', 'enticing' fashion, the Bengali films are more introspective.
Describing Suchitra Sen as an actress she would love to emulate, Elena, who had earlier turned up in a Bengali film Clerk starring Prosenjit Chatterjee, said she hoped the Kolkata connection in Prague" would help her get more substantial roles in future.
"More and more European actors are coming to act in Bengali films. I know Claudia who is working in Hanuman.Com.
German foley artistes are part of your project. Bengali film is going global. So why can't I get more roles?" Elena wondered.
She said before leaving Kolkata, she would like to see the new Meghe Dhaka Tara made by Kamaleswar Mukherjee on the life of Ritwik Ghatak.