Archive for the ‘100 remarkable Indian films’ Category

shabdo

I have watched Kaushik Ganguly’s SHABDO umpteen numbers of times. I rank this film very highly and feel this is as ground-breaking a work as Ray’s PATHER PANCHALI & Mrinal Sen’s BHUVAN SHOME. The two main protagonists in the film are a dedicated foley artist and a lady doctor, who is trying to diagnose the debilitating condition of the foley artist, where the foley man seems to be lost in his own acoustic world, unable to appreciate and communicate in real world situations. The doctor too is extremely dedicated and the deteriorating situation of her patient affects her tremendously.

The film gives an insight into technicalities and contribution of sound engineers in filmmaking. Ritwik Chakraborty and Churni Ganguly enact the protagonist. The supporting cast includes Victor Bannerjee, Raima Sen, Srijit Mukherjee and others.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Today is the late filmmaker Tapan Sinha’s birthday.  Recepient of the highest cinema award of the country Dadasaheb Phalke, he has made over forty films in a career spanning more than four decades. Some of his outstanding films are APANJAN (remade by Gulzar as Mere Apne), GOLPO HOLEO SATTI (remade as BAWARCHI by Hrishikesh Mukherjee), NIRJAN SAIKATE and many others.  For compiling the seventy list of greatest Indian films, I would pick this Hindi film by him featuring Pankaj Kapoor and Shabana Azmi based on the life of a real doctor …

Ek Doctor Ki Maut, 1990 film.jpg

The story is credited to Ramapada Choudhury.

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Ray had an eye for details, and an uncanny ability to pick the best and create memorable films. The brilliance of Tarashankar Bandopadhyay (writer), Subrata Mitra (cameraman) and Chabi Biswas (actor) and their association with Ray could only have resulted in a film like JALSAGAR – a film praised highly by the renowned photographer Hans Cartier Bresson for its exquisite imagery. The film touches upon decay of royalty and embedded pride about lineage refusing to come to terms with changing circumstances. Chabi Biswas carries the entire film on his shoulders with great elan. The supporting cast includes Padda Devi as the wife and a few others.

Quite a few long shots, like that of the feudal mansion captured at dusk, have a lingering effect. The scene where Chabi Biswas re-opens his closed Jalsagar towards the end and sees himself (after a long time) in the dusty mirror gaping at his own mirror image in disbelief is brilliant. The psychological probity of the Zamindari system has given us two more works from Ray – DEVI and MONIHARA.

Writing in the book “Portrait of a Director – Satyajit Ray” (Dennis Dobson, London), the author Marie Seton says “Jalsagar represented the 1920s with a central conflict not dissimilar to that in John Galsworthy’s play THE SKIN GAME. Ray commenced work on this film in 1957 shortly after completing APARAJITO.” Seton also writes “In the original story, the kathak dancer was the mistress of Biswambhar Roy (the character played by Chabi Biswas). Ray eliminated this aspect of the Zamidar’s life. Some people attributed this to prudery on Ray’s part. I left it out because it was melodramatic. Its elimination makes the film more austere, was Satyajit Ray’s explanation, which seem a valid one.”

Marie Seton further comments “In the context of Indian cinema, including the previous styles developed in Bengal, the most uncompromising aspect of JALSAGAR was Ray’s use of the strictly classical music of the noted sitar player, Ustad Vilayat Khan, in place of the more fluid musical approach of Ravi Shankar who had collaborated on the music for the Apu Trilogy.”

JALSAGAR remains one of the finest works of Ray…

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

 

Movies on father-son relationship bring out facets of life in various hues. Some notable works like Wender’s Paris Texas, Ray’s Apur Sansar or Anjan Dutt’s Dutta vs. Dutta comes to mind that had this relationship at the centrality in the narrative. Atanu Ghosh’s National award-winning film Mayurrakshi (2017) is a welcome addition to the list …

Mayurakshi: A must watch for all gen

In this film the father (Soumitro Chattopadhyay) plays a widower and a retired Professor of History (an erudite person possessing knowledge in music and many subjects) suffering from old age problems and dimentia. A caretaker (Sudipta Chakraborty) looks after him. The son (Prasenjit Chattopadhyay) arrives from Chicago to see his ailing dad … dad has suffered memory loss and longs to meet Mayurrakshi, his student and the girl/woman the son had spurned in marriage when the alliance was suggested by the father … the film explores dimensions of love and loneliness, the plight of the ambitious younger generation living in a separate country having ailing parents back home and the connect/disconnect that exist between them… the sombre mood of the  film incorporates exquisite imagery and fine story-telling to make this film a memorable work.

The acting of the two lead performers is top notch. Indrani Halder does a cameo …the film is directed by Atanu Ghosh (Angsumaner Chobi, Abby Sen). The film was adjudged the Best Bengali film at the National awards this year.

Rating: 4.2 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

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

  1. AGNISNAAN (Bhabendranath Saikia, Assamese, 1985)

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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)

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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.

5. KHOSLA KA GHOSLA (Dibakar Bannerjee, Hindi, 2006)

In his debut film, Dibakar Bannerjee chooses a contemporary topic, that of land mafias exploiting innocent home and land buyers to the hilt. KKG deals with the predicament of an honest elderly man (Anupam Kher) when he buys a plot of land from a property dealer and gets duped in the process. The narrative unfolds the two sons’ (Prabin Dabas & Ranvir Shorey) effort at revenge/retrieval of the lost money (given away in the initial transaction by their father) with the assistance of a few others.

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Why I like the film? The director captures the life and eccentricities of the characters from the Capital city effectively. The humor laced treatment of a serious subject makes the film enjoyable, and doesn’t allow it to become boring at any point.

6. SHABDO (2012, Bengali) The tale of a foley artist – a sound technician for movies, their neglect and the blurring of lines between devotion to duty and personal injury

(to be Continued …)

 

Image result for sandip ray uttaran

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