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Veteran actor Soumitro Chattopadhyay was recently conferred with France’s highest honor, Légion d’Honneur…

I remember an incident which occurred a few years back (maybe six/seven). I was travelling to Kolkata from New Delhi in a Jet Airways flight. Soumitro C (SC) aka Apu aka Feluda was in the same flight. I had sighted him at Delhi airport itself. It seemed like he was returning from a shooting schedule because I saw fellow actors of Bengali cinema, of whom I could recognize Biswajit Chakraborty, with him. I was amazed at the non-starry way SC carried himself. Very few people in fact recognized him, or showed an interest to click a picture with him. In comparison, see how recognizable mediocre Bollywood actors are in our society. I didn’t possess a smart phone in those days, hence there was no point requesting SC for a snap …

Out of his numerous memorable performances, I pick five of my favourites:

  1. GANASHATRU

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I really loved his work in this film by Satyajit Ray based on an Ibsen play ‘Enemy of the people.’  As a conscientious doctor in a small town who discovers contamination in a water source coming out of a crowd flocking temple and his discovery creating a furor leading to attack on him and his family by unscrupulous members of the temple trust and the town municipality which included his sibling brother, the seasoned actor was simply a delight to watch.

 

  1. DEKHA

 

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Directed by Gautam Ghose, it featured SC in the role of a Milton like blind poet. The subtlety of the performance matching gait akin a blind man, the nuances that brought out the essence of the complexity of the character of the amorous poet living in changing times showcased his brilliance at his craft.

 

  1. AKASH KUSUM

 

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SC has done comedy in several films but this Mrinal Sen directed film is one of his best. Longing can drive a man to desperation – SC epitomized his portrayal of such a character to perfection. Some of the conversations with his love interest Aparna Sen were simply hilarious …This role was enacted by Amitabh Bachchan in the Hindi version MANZIL directed by Basu Chatterjee.

  1. WHEEL CHAIR

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The central protagonist is an America returned wheel-chair ridden doctor (SC) who runs a medical care facility for destitute and poor of the society, and tries to help a rape victim.

 

  1. PARINEETA

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I really find this a heart-warming romantic film. The coy-and-quiet romance between Shekar (Soumitro Chaterjee) and Lolita (Moushumi Chaterjee) in the film reaches a level rarely reached in the Bengali and Indian cinemas.

The Ajay Kar directed film was based on a story by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

 

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There is a distinguishing feature in Tarun Mazumdar  films. Most  of his films revolve around village life. However, his films eschew the harshness depicted in the films of Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray, Gautam Ghose and Ritwik Ghatak when they make films that has the village as the setting.

The TM film SHAHER THEKE DUREY bears resemblance to his film PHULESHWARI. In PHULESHWARI a young man (Samit Bhanja) joins the Railway and gets a posting in the village. SHAHER THEKE DURE has a young doctor (Samit Bhanja) who comes to work in a village. In both the films, the young man falls in love with a village belle (Sandhya Roy in both films). There are many supporting characters in these films, high voltage drama interspersed with melodious songs. Actors like Bhanu Bandopadhyay, Anup Kumar & Robi Ghosh lend able support to make the film entertaining.

Rating: 3.6 out of 5

A Death in the Gunj

Posted: July 1, 2017 in Konkona Sen Sharma

Review in Hindustan Times

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DEVARU KADU is a film written and directed by Pratibha Ram Reddy. It is a heart-rending tale of a family’s battle for survival. Upon losing his father, the protagonist Deva and his mother leave their native place in the forest & go to the city in search of livelihood. While the mother works in other people’s houses, the young boy added to the kitty by doing odd jobs as a rag-picker. Finally when he grows up, he takes a loan and purchases a rickshaw and lugs it to make his living.

In the meanwhile, health of his mother deteriorates and she longs to go back to her native place. Deva attempts to carry out her final wish, but she die during the return journey. Deva buries her ‘ashes’ besides that of his father’s grave. Hereafter, Deva starts growing trees in the surrounding areas (as per the wishes of his parents & manage to convert the barren land which his family had to abandon to seek greener pastures in the city) and within forty years, a forest emerges out of his extraordinary efforts.

Quite a powerful film, this.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Image  —  Posted: June 25, 2017 in Bangla 2010-2020, Bengali films, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Paoli Dam

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UTTARON (Broken Journey) is a film based on a story and screenplay by Satyajit Ray, and directed by his son Sandip Ray. The film follows a Calcutta based doctor (Soumitro Chattopadhyay) who is successful treating the well-heeled of society. His teenage daughter is shown leading a reckless life giving rise to suspicion of being a drug addict.

The doc embarks on a journey to Jamshedpur to deliver a talk on ADVANCES OF MEDICAL SCIENCES IN LAST TWO DECADES in a Conference. En route his car breaks down in a remote area & he sees a man lying unconsciously in the field. The doc tries to lend a helping hand. What follows is a discovery of reality about lack of health-care facilities (dependence on witch doctor) and abysmal condition (lack of electricity) in the village. This leads to an awakening in the doctor & the realization of the futility & elitism of conferences when basic health care facilities elude the majority of the population.

The supporting cast includes Subalakshmi Munshi, Sadhu Meher, Subhendu Chatterjee, Lily Chakraborty and others.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5