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It seems Bengali cinema is poised for good times with a number of filmmakers exploring fresh subjects and themes. MACHER JHOL directed by Pratim D Gupta falls in this category.

The film tries an attempt –to- return- to-roots of a successful chef (Ritwik Chakraborty) in France to Kolkata when his mother is seriously ill and hospitalized. The film has sufficient human drama and relationship subtext (father-son differences, left behind wife in Kolkata) to engage the viewer’s interests. Some aspects seem cliché though (the birth of a son kept as a secret)… the protagonist is flawed too. He accuses his father of being selfish, while he himself deserted his wife and went abroad and never bothered to ask about her during his telephonic talk back home with his mother.

I particularly think that the ending was unconventional where the chef returns to his French girlfriend when the viewers were probably developing a sense that the protagonist would stay back with his wife and son …besides Ritwik, the film features Mamata Shankar as the mother, Sumanta Mukherjee as the father, Paoli Dam as the wife in Kolkata and others…

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

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It is heartening to find the new breed of promising filmmakers from Bengal breaking out of the Mrinal-Satyajit-Ritwik mould of intense filmmaking and tackle subjects that are fresh and unchartered. Srijit Mukherjee, Anjan Dutt, Aniruddha Rai Choudhuri & Kamleshwar Mukherjee are exploring themes on a broader canvas beyond conventional settings, though admittedly, have to show greater mastery at their craft to reach anywhere near the level of the masters of Bengali cinema.

COCKPIT directed by Kamleshwar Mukherjee featuring Dev as a born pilot encountering turbulent weather on one such occasion which progresses towards a near-death experience for the passengers before a gallant effort by the Captain Pilot saves the day and the aircraft from crashing. Though the film has commercial elements in terms of songs and romantic angles, this work inspired by real life incidents is quite watchable.

The director certainly deserves an applause for making a film (possibly the  first in Indian cinema) on on life-threatening turbulence encounter on the skies by an aircraft with onboard passengers. Don’t expect a SULLY but certainly worth a dekko.

The supporting cast includes Prasenjit, Koel Mullick, Rukmini Moitra, Paran Bandopadhyay and others.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Gallery  —  Posted: January 13, 2018 in Mamata Shankar, Mithun Chakraborty, Mrinal Sen

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Among the top Bengali directors Tapan Sinha is an exception when it came to making films on travel and discovery, adventure and suspense. We have seen TS handling the genre again and again in films like ATITHI, NIRJAN SAIKATE, SAFED HAATHI, BAIDURJER RAHASYA, ANTARDHAAN, ATANKA and this one among others …

SABUJ DEEPER RAJA was a film based on the famous sleuth ‘Kakababu’ penned by Sunil Gangopadhyay. The central role of Kakababu was played by Samit Bhanja quite convincingly. The beauty of the Andaman and Nicobar islands was wonderfully captured by the lens of the Cameraman in this film.

The storyline I felt was a big letdown with fantastical elements of a miraculous optical power source among the tribal, crooks in pursuit of it, disappearing foreigners and a forgotten freedom fighter Talukdar resembling Aurobindo Ghosh. The supporting cast includes Biplab Chaterjee, Ramen Rai Chaudhuri, Kalyan Chaterjee and others.

Rating: 2.8 out of 5

 

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I read a criticism of an eminent film critic about Buddhadeb Dasgupta becoming ‘very personal’ in his later films which lack the social  commitment and depth he showed in his early films (Dooratwa, Grihajuddha, Bagh Bahadur and others). SWAPNER DIN would fall in the second phase of his films and no different from the personal kind of films (LAL DARJA & others) he has been making in recent times …

I was trying to dissect SWAPNER DIN and its inner message. The film is basically about a Govt. employee (Prasenjit) and his driver friend (Rajesh Sharma) who tours the villages to promote Govt. schemes (like educating the rural folks about the use of condoms). In carrying out the mission, the Projector and even the Govt. Car gets stolen. A number of characters make brief appearances to fuse themselves into the abstract storyline of the director…

While trying to unravel the hidden message, I think that BD is telling us that in spite of the fact that all dreams are crumbling (the uneasy relationship the protagonist Prasenjit has with his father and his mother living with another man, the quibbling land-lady where Prasenjit lived as a tenant for seven years, thieves robbers terrorists and exploiters abound everywhere…) we must never stop dreaming …this is validated in the concluding sequence of the film wherein the beautiful actress/village belle (Raima Sen) leads our protagonist towards dreamland…

The supporting cast includes Reema Sen, Haradhan Bannerjee and others …

Rating: 2.8 out of 5

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Bengali cinema is unlucky to have lost some of its most prodigious talent before they could reach anywhere near the end of their career – Ritwik Ghatak, Rituparna Ghosh, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay, Nabyendu Chaterjee and … Anjan Das. The last named is the director of SANJHBATIR ROOPKATHARA.

This film starts on a predictable note. One was beginning to feel that it was just another ‘exploitation of women’ kind of film about the protagonist daughter Saajhbati (Indrani Halder) of a well-known painter (Soumitro Chattopadhyay). Midway through the movie, the film unfolds an unexpected development and thereafter the film becomes a powerful exploration of the perils of fame, the father-daughter relationship, love and betrayal, lust and insanity, hope and longings, setbacks and comebacks.

The performances are praiseworthy. Indrani Halder in the titular role is convincing. After Pramathesh Barua’s MUKTI in the 1930s, we have the painter as a major character in Bengali films like SWET PATHARER THALA & this one. The supporting cast includes Paran Bandopadhyay, Ketaki Dutta, Firdaus and others.

I discovered that the film was based on a story by eminent poet Joy Goswami which is why the film appears lyrical in several parts…

Rating: 4.1 out of 5

 

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The film SANABI (The Pony) draws us into the lives of ordinary people in a remote village in Manipur. The village is at some distance from the capital city of Imphal. The main characters are a petty cattle thief (Mangi), a divorcee woman Sakhi who works in the State Dance academy whom Mangi loves, and the family of Sakhi including her father who owns ‘Sanabi’, a pure-bred Meitei pony – a rarity nowadays in Manipur which has a rich tradition of playing polo since time immemorial, and in one sequence, Sakhi’s father claims that ‘Polo’ is Manipur’s gift to the world …

Sanabi gets stolen and this makes Sakhi’s father heart-broken – he used to love and care for the pony like his own child. Will Sanabi return to her master? Watch this beautiful film from North-East India to find out. Love, Jealously, Loyalty, Kindness, Misunderstandings intermingle in the storyline and succeed in etching the characters in grey especially of Mangi, rather than in black and white. The camerawork and editing is of International class. The film was directed by Aribam Syam Sharma, and based on a story by Binodini Devi.

Rating: 4 out of 5