1996 to 2016 Kolkata 20th anniversary Tramjatra short film promo

Posted Wed 31/5/17 by Roberto D'Andrea

Tramjatra's film maker Mahadeb Shi has edited a fresh a short 4.20 promo which includes for the first time footage from the 20th anniversary Tramjatra in Kolkata - India in December 2016.
Melbourne - Australia and Kolkata - India are 2 of the rare surviving tramways of continuous use outside of Europe. Since 1994, a group of artists, activists, tramway workers and enthusiasts have departed Melbourne and Kolkata on a ‘Tramjatra’. Roberto D’Andrea, a retired Melbourne conductor - driver who is still connie-ing, is one of the central characters who has fallen in love with Kolkata, its people and tramways. The film takes a metaphoric journey and explores how we became connected in friendship through the shared artistic tradition of 'decorating and performing on trams'. The film celebrates 20 years of tramways friendship between Kolkata and Melbourne. Tramjatra is a journey and friendship that connects people, our cities and the natural world with tramway tradition.
Kolkata and Melbourne are two very different cities from different hemispheres that are connected by rare surviving tramways and British colonial influences. From the early 1990's, Kolkata started loosing parts of their much-loved tramways before a filmmaker, trammies and gunzels started the fight against any further closures. Melbourne has a confident tramways and had an eccentric tribe of ticket selling tram conductors  affectionately called 'Connies'. In the 1990's, against public sentiment, Melbourne's  Connies were replaced by automated ticket machines and Roberto was active trying to save the Connies from extinction. As it's often said crisis brings people together and that is exactly what happened between Melbourne and Kolkata! Roberto the Melbourne connie says; “I introduced myself with a bit of tram theatre and got hijacked by a group of Calcutta trammies.”
Roberto was a Melbourne tram conductor and driver when he visited Calcutta for the first time in 1994. He fell in love with the city, its people and tramways. His new trammie friends from the Belgatchia Tram Depot told him that their tramways was under threat of full closure while Dr Debasish Bhattacharrya was writing Save Our Tramways letters to pro-public transport organisations around the world. Since then he has helped organise a uniquely inter-cultural arts project called ‘Tramjatra”. In Bengali to ‘Jatra’ is to journey. The journey can be physical or a journey of the heart. The Melbourne Kolkata Tramways Friendship has brought together artists and the tramway loving communities of Melbourne and Kolkata. Together we jatra and journey through the medium of tramways. We decorate trams in both cities and explore the idea that an urban transport system is not simply a mechanical means of ferrying its citizens, it's also a environmentally friendly people mixer, a means of urban bonding and active ingredient in the cultural life of our communities. Roberto was last in Kolkata for the 20th anniversary of Tramjatra in December 2016. The film celebrates 20 years of tramways friendship.