Kolkata’s wooden trams chug into stardom

An unexpected but delightful outcome of the making of Dibakar Banerjee’s film Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! that released on Friday was the rescue from obscurity of two tramcars that were used to recreate the city’s 1942 avatar.

Using brands that have faded from public memory and antiquated ad campaigns, the project has revived interest in trams ‘No. 563’ and ‘No. 567’, now renamed ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ Tramcars. The film, however, spells the detective’s last name as Bakshy.

The film used two wooden tramcars built in the 1930s and a watering car used to water the tram tracks of the city.

“The tramcar was renovated at their [the filmmakers] cost by us. They collected samples from old photographs and, accordingly, old-style branding was done on the top panel of the trams,” Nilanjan Sandilya, managing director of The Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) Ltd. told The Hindu .

Mr. Sandilya said that trams were the main public mode of transport in the 1940s and were crucial to depict that period of the city.

The two tramcars used in the film are wooden ones that have seldom been taken out on the streets after the shooting of the film, said S.S. Ghosh, the Works Manager of the CTC. Tram No. 567 displayed advertisements of brands such as Bengal Lamp, Lux Toilet Soap and Dulaler Tal Mishri during the shooting. An old brand of palm candy was also advertised at Nonapukur tram depot. Tram No. 563, which was changed to No. 469 for the film, carried similar advertisements in English, Bengali and Hindi. Shooting was held at the Park Circus Tram Depot. The watering car used in the film predates the trams. According to Mr. Ghosh, watering cars were built between 1915 and 1920 and only two of them are now left with the tram company. Such is the enthusiasm surrounding the tram cars that a prototype called “Byomkesh Bakshi Tramcar” is on display at a tram museum-on-wheels called Smaranika.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 10:14:58 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/kolkatas-wooden-trams-chug-into-stardom/article7067483.ece