Of late, Bengal seems to be making films that capture a motley group of characters trying to deal with emerging social issues in an urban setting. Films like RUPKATHA NOY & MAACH, MISTI & MORE and this one bear more than a striking similarity with one another. These films are crisp, well acted and photographed and keeps afloat the promise that all is not lost for meaningful cinema in the age of ‘100 crore club’ films.

Family Album Poster

 

I particularly liked the ending sequence of FAMILY ALBUM. The film ended on quite an unexpected note. The cast includes Paoli Dam, Swastika Mukherjee, Reema Sen, Kaushik Sen, Santu Mukherjee and others. The film is directed by Mainak Bhaumik.

 

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Teacher on celluloid …

Posted: September 5, 2017 in Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray, Tidbits

Art imitates life. Today I am reminded of the supporting character of the father of one of the lead pair viz., Anil Chaterji in Satyajit Ray’s MAHANAGAR (1964) – an aged retired teacher with traditional beliefs unable to comprehend changing times. When he tries to reach out to his past successful students during his hard times, their insensitivity towards him is a reflection of how we treat our teachers in modern society. In Mrinal Sen’s EK DIN ACHANAK an academically bent Professor leaves his family for an unknown destination when his family and society doesn’t accord him the respect he felt due to him….

To celebrate India’s 70 years of Independence, my pick of seventy films from my viewing list ….

  1. AGNISNAAN (Bhabendranath Saikia, Assamese, 1985)

agni

Dr. Bhaben Saikia is credited to have introduced the parallel cinema movement in Assam. He made eight National award winning films besides being a prolific writer. I have just seen two of his films viz., SAROTHI & the above mentioned film, both of which left a big imprint on me. Why I like the film? Based on his own story, this is an unusual & powerful revenge saga of a dedicated wife (played by the brilliant Moloya Goswami) when her businessman husband takes in a new young wife in his life. The director however contends that it was her physical need that drove her towards infidelity.

  1. ANAND (Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Hindi, 1971)

anand

Whether the inspiration came from Kurasawa’s IKIRU or modeled on the personality/friendship with Raj Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ANAND is his finest film. Why I like the film? Great acting by the two leading actors, memorable dialogues & evergreen songs ….

  1. AKALER SANDHANE (Mrinal Sen, Bengali, 1980)

akaler

This is a memorable film on the discovery of the actual reality in rural India by a film unit and its director when they try to recreate/make a film on famines. Why I like the film? Films about films tend to be boring apart from exception like Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT. This film by MS succeed in mirroring social realities and raising many relevant questions – in order to portray reality, weren’t the film unit responsible for making life harder for the poor villagers because of soaring prices and other forms of degradation when the urban film crew descend on the rural countryside?…

4. PATHER PANCHALI (Satyajit Ray, Bengali, 1955)

pather

The film that brought International acclaim to Indian cinema. It often figures in the critic’s list of ten best films in World Cinema.

(to be Continued …)

 

DANGAL (Hindi, 2016)

Posted: August 17, 2017 in Cinema techniques, Hindi films

On Independence day I saw the money-spinner and much feted blockbuster film of recent years – DANGAL. Based on a true story, it is basically a tale of triumph of the human spirit against all prevalent societal norms seen through the story of a stern once-upon-a-time wrestler father (Amir Khan)  who toils hard after his two daughters since their childhood to make them top-notch wrestlers – something unthinkable of in a patriarchal Hariyanvi society. Quite an inspirational tale – every countryman should know and get influenced positively…

Did I like the film? I would have to reply in the negative at this self posed query. Why? … I felt that this three hour long biographical sports film could have been far more effective as a 30-40 minutes documentary. Sustaining interest in a film for three hours can be a challenge for the viewers and unless you have made a SHOLAY (to give an Indian example) it is bound to disappoint. Even Martin Scorcese’s brilliant biographical sports film RAGING BULL with a superlative performance by Robert De Niro had a running time of two hours. In that film there were sub-texts of personal problems of the protagonist boxer with his wife and his brother woven into the narrative to make it cinematic. DANGAL goes on and on about training sessions and the brooding father’s often uncompromising persona acts as a killjoy, making the film a far from pleasurable experience.

Rating: 2.8 out of 5

An exchange with my friend on FB:

Gaurav Dey Purkayastha Actually I read in an interview with one of the daughters that the film barely portrayed a fraction of what the sisters had to go through. Unlike you, however, I think this movie is a tour de force for Amir Khan’s acting.

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Subhajit Ghosh
Subhajit Ghosh This is a personal opinion..
The huge popularity of the film and the glowing press it received certainly puts me in a minority

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Subhajit Ghosh
Subhajit Ghosh Gaurav
As a film buff I am intrigued by the question ‘What makes a ‘great’ film’? I feel if you have to tell a great story, write a book. If you want wider reach (which btw all of us do) use the medium of TV. And these days you also have the web to reach everyone across the globe.
IMHO the best of cinema need to incorporate newer devices and innovate story-telling mechanism to make it engaging. When a Kurasawa re-creates a Shakespeare or Satyajit Ray makes a film on Tagore they incorporate ‘their’ thinking into such stories. I hear that the director of DANGAL changed the ‘climax’ from the original story. This is just to make it more melodramatic …
Actually my preference in films (Fellini, Chaplin & the early Mrinal Sen & …) have generally been those ones which tells good stories through innovate methods and humor. To give a Bollywood example, I hugely enjoyed Dibakar Bannerjee’s first film KHOSLA KA GHOSLA …

Ray-Sen friendship

Posted: August 7, 2017 in Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray

 

Asi Te Asio Na

A neglected octogenarian (Bhanu Bandopadhyay) stumbles upon a miraculous discovery…Fed up with the ill-treatment meted out to him and his wife (Ruma Guha Thakurta) by his children, he longs for an escape from his dreary existence. Accidentally, he even finds a solution to all of his woes. He discovers a pond where on taking a dip one regains his youth. When he transforms into a handsome young man, many were forced to accept the miracle as real. Quite predictably, all hell breaks loose …

From a chemist keen to investigate the composition of the water in the pond, senior officers in the Govt. keen to cash on its benefits, the change in the behavior of the children and their wives towards the man, sundry characters trying to make the most of the situation – everything adds up to make this an absolutely laugh riot.

Bhanu Bandopadhyay and Robi Ghosh deliver sterling performances. The supporting cast which includes Ruma Guha Thakurta, Kamal Mitra, Renuka, Asit Baran, Tarun Kumar, Shyam Laha and others perform creditably.

Does Bhanu forever remain young? Could such a miracle really have taken place? Watch the film to know the answers …one of the most hilarious Bengali films ever IMHO.

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Image  —  Posted: August 4, 2017 in Hindi films, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Humour