A Film in Development

Streetcar to Calcutta follows writer Fatima Shaik, who is Christian and African American, on a cinematic journey from New Orleans, the city of her birth, to Calcutta, the birthplace of the Muslim grandfather she never knew. Hurricane Katrina washed away his hookah and many old family records and took her own father’s life. The Katrina disaster caused Fatima to want to explore the family tree that straddles two religions, two cultures and two cities worlds apart.

Her Christian African American family has lived in Louisiana for four generations. Her Muslim Bengali grandfather, Shaik Mohamed Musa, left India and settled in New Orleans in 1893. There he met and married Tennie Ford, an African American Catholic. Fatima’s grandparents raised their children near Congo Square, once the Sunday meeting place of African slaves. Fatima’s father and aunts were the only children on the block with Muslim names.

Traveling from New Orleans to Calcutta across geographical, spiritual and cultural borders, Fatima Shaik and the director will pool their expertise as a New Orleans writer and Bengali-speaking Calcutta-born filmmaker. In India, Fatima will become acquainted with Islam in daily life and investigate what Muslims there associate with Christianity. It is a story of Christianity and Islam, America and India, New Orleans and Calcutta.

Selected Works

The true story of 15 free men of African descent who began a secret organization in 1836 that lasted more than 100 years -- and whose records were held until the 21st century by Shaik's father in the family closet.
Streetcar to Calcutta
Filmmaker Kavery Kaul follows Shaik as she retraces her Muslim grandfather's 19th century journey from a small village near Calcutta to the intimate community of 7th ward New Orleans.