Archive for the ‘Anil Chaterjee’ Category

AJANTRIK (1958, Bengali, d:- Ritwik Ghatak) After four serious films(Calcutta 71/Pather Panchali/Piravi/Paar), I was looking for a film with strong content using a somewhat humorous approach in the narration. Bhuvan Shome, Chorus, Khosla ka Ghosla and a few others came to mind. Finally I settled for AJANTRIK by Ritwik Ghatak. Based on a story by Subodh Ghosh, it’s a tale of affection of a Car mechanic cum driver Bimal (Kali Bannerjee) for his crumbling Chevrolet ( Jaggaddal ). The car was the source of livelihood for Bimal and his unusual attachment for the inanimate object is a reflection of gratitude for the vehicle that was his constant companion and bread winner for several years. The lens capture the rural landscape beautifully, and Ghatak showcases tribal dances much before Ray popularised it in his films. A couple of scenes seem exaggerated, but these are minor blemish in a novel, pioneering work. Brilliant acting by Kali Bannerjee
Rating: 4.4 out of 5

On a repeat viewing of MAHANAGAR, I felt that the strong message that Ray wanted to convey through the character of the protagonist Arati Mazumdar (  Madhabi Mukherjee) – her resignation from the job (as a protest against injustice towards a colleague) that was the sole bread winner for the large family is completely lost in our society. All of us who are salaried and work for a living are witness to gross injustices in our workplaces. Do we ever think about the need to leave the present employment and search for the ‘job where things are fair’? We all know that such jobs doesn’t exist in our country and we tend to compromise to adapt to prevailing norms and trends…even Ray was aware of the changing times as his last works – GANASHATRU & SHAKHA PROSAKHA spoke a great deal about decay and vice …

Image result for mahanagar movie

MAHANAGAR was based on a story by Narendranath Mitra. The core theme of the disquiet caused when a Bengali homely lady Arati Mazumdar (Madhabi Mukherjee) steps out of her secluded domestic existence into the working world have been deftly portrayed by the director. I think Mrinal Sen’s PUNASCHO in the Sixties also dealt with the same theme but as per latest reports available that film is completely lost to filmgoers as no print of that film exists today.
Some of the sequences in the film are truly memorable:
The scene where Madhabi presses her first earning against herself and proceeds to watch her in an adjacent mirror
• The Anglo woman gifts Madhabi a lipstick and shows her how to apply it
• “Was he your boyfriend”? asks her Anglo colleague Madhabi points to Vermillion on her forehead
“Okay. Your husband.”
“Do you know this ring?” her Anglo friend queried “This means that I am married.” ( A beautiful scene on manifestation of marital status in two cultures)
The effect of the lady walking out of the orthodox household into the professional world on the husband (Anil Chatterjee) and the family can be summarized in the following dialogues/scenes that transpired in the film
“Kaaje amay chinte parbe na” (Madhabi) “Barite Chinte parbo to” (Anil Chatterjee)
• “Bouma, Sales girl?” (Anil Chatterjee’s father)
• “Taka thaklai Sansar a shanti thake na Baba aaj 3/2 maas amar sathe katha bole na.” (Anil Chaterjee talks of his equation with his father)
• The first day Madhabi goes to work, her child runs away from her as a protest

The weakness of the film: The forced situations where husband loses his job and is dependent on Madhabi’s job. The ending also appeared filmic to me. I, for one, can’t throw away job because of injustice being meted out to a colleague. You would agree that Arati’s of the world wouldn’t be able to keep any job in present day corruption ridden India.
The most interesting character to me was the patriarch – the father of Anil Chatterjee who represented the plight of retired teachers in the country
“jemon gorbo bodh kori, temon hingse hoi” (talking about his students)
• “Bhagwan er bidhan e kothai jeno gondogol royeche” (complaining about God’s injustice towards his ilk)
• “Amar bhoro obhab” (The old man cries and tells his eye specialist student ) “Chasma ta hobe amar Gurudakhina” (The student replies thusly)
• “sei jug aar ei jug ek noye” (Anil Chatterjee to his father)

There’re other sequences that characterize social milieu of that era
• Madhabi goes to sell knitting machines and start a conversation with prospective customers discussing personal problems – the ability of Bongs to start conversation with complete strangers
“Ei sob parar thakar anondo je nijeder radio kinte hoy na” (Anil Chaterjee tells his wife)
The supporting cast included Jaya Bhaduri, Haradhan Bannerjee and others.
Rating: 4 out of 5


AHWAN narrates the tale of one Bimol (Anil Chaterjee) who returns to his native village after several years. He had left his village to pursue higher education in Kolkata.

After his initial comeback,  he began dividing his time between his village and Kolkata where he worked. He befriends an elderly Muslim lady in the village who is alone and has no one to look after her. A strong bond develops between her and Bimol. A touching scene is when she arrives to see an ailing Bimol after bathing herself in ‘Gangajaal’ (water of river Ganga) on a cold wintry night because being a Muslim she wasn’t encouraged inside homes of orthodox Hindu families.

There is also a triangular romantic angle where Bimol is caught between an urbane lady (Lily Chakraborty) and the rural belle (Sandhya Roy). Watch the film to find out what happens…

The film is directed by Arabinda Mukhopadhyay and based on a powerful story of Hindu Muslim amity and differences by Bhibuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay. The supporting cast includes Premanshu Bose, Anoop Kumar and others.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5



Films depicting contemporary reality without compromising is a rare commodity. That is why Tapan Sinha’s ATANKA hits you very hard. I can’t recall any Bengali film depicting the loss of Bengali heritage and high culture and constantly cautioning us about it in such a forceful manner as ATANKA. “Bangalir hathe chaku, bangalir hathe khoon, era kara?” – this dialogue from the film laments the decline of the community where political killings have become rampant.

In this film, an upright teacher (Soumitro Chatterjee) is witness to a murder committed by one of his ex-students (Sumanta Mukhopadhyay). The local goons start terrorising the teacher…the film highlights the dubiousness of the political class and how they misuse the local youths and the police. Soumitro Chaterjee is brilliant as the oppressed teacher and his expression with fear written all over exemplifies the nuanced performance one has come to associate with the veteran actor – a favourite of all Bengali arthouse directors. The supporting cast includes Prasenjit, Manoj Mitra, Anil Chaterjee, Arijit Guha and others.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5



Day before yesterday was Teacher’s day. My respect to all teachers – they’re indispensable and the real architects in building great societies and nations.

How has teacher been depicted in the arts? Well, we have had many films with the professor as the protagonist, but I can’t think of any film that captures so brilliantly the misplaced expectations from a teacher…

Ek Din Achanak (1989) 

“Ek Din Achanak” (1989) (Suddenly One Day) is an intriguing film by Mrinal Sen, an emotional drama about relationships in the narrative style of a mystery film. I can’t think of too many Indian films that portray the agony of changing values and times on an individual so effectively (Aparna Sen’s 36 Chowringhee Lane may be another).

ek din

Ek Din Achanak” was based on a story by Ramapada Choudhury (Beej). It dealt with the pangs of a sensitive man in a cruel, insensitive and materialistic world. The protagonist of this film is an academically inclined Professor (Sreeram Lagoo). One rainy day, the Professor goes out of his house,and doesn’t return at night. His wife (Uttara Baonkar) and his two daughters(Shabana Azmi and Roopa Ganguly) are expectedly nervous at this. The film focuses on the year following the disappearance on the family.

Using flashback and oscillatory techniques throughout, the Director unfolds the family of the Professor before us. The wife (Uttara Baonkar) is a typical housewife, and somewhat unhappy with her present status. In one sequence, she accuses her husband of being selfish, and of being immune to the family’s needs. The wife said the husband never spared a thought for the family, and never tried to find a job for her. The Professor is also peeved with his only son (Arjun Chakravorty). He had high aspirations for his son and wanted him to follow in his footsteps. The son, however, was inclined towards business. The professor considered his son of being a wastrel, and in one sequence when the son asks him for some money, the professor chided his son for being so materialistically inclined. When he embarked to sign the cheque, out of anger the son leaves the house, without taking the money from his father.

The eldest daughter,Shabana Azmi, comes across as the strongest character. She is the bread-winner of the family, besides the amount of pension drawn by the Professor. She is also the one who was possibly closest to the professor. Through some sequences of poignancy, the Director delves into this beautiful father-daughter relationship. Even when the daughter re-examines her father’s capabilities and concludes that he was an average man, not an extraordinary person, she immediately feels guilty about it and confides to her sister that she has done a grave injustice to her father’s memory by belittling him.

The younger daughter, Roopa Ganguly, is a college going girl, and has some of the lighter sequences, like when she comes running to break the news that she has secured first class in her exams to her mother and sister. Even she considered her father of being a very proud man.

A few days after the disappearance, the family reconciles themselves with the incident. Shabana starts going to her office. Everyone seemed to have overcome the tragedy, the only exception being the wife of the professor.

The director employs shock sequences during the unfolding of the narrative. Early in the film a death is shown in a Calcutta street when a man is run over by a mini-bus and the incident occurring right next to Shabana’s office. At the time of the incident, Shabana jumps from her seat and runs towards the window fearing that it may be her father, and returns relieved when it turns out to be someone else.

Aparna Sen is a student of the Professor. The Professor develops a soft corner for her, revealed to us through a sketch drawn of her by the Professor, discovered much after the disappearance act. It was found quite accidentally by the wife while browsing through the books of the Professor after the incident. The wife informs the eldest daughter (Shabana) of her findings. Both re-examines the relationship between the two individuals (the Professor and his good-looking student Aparna).During the visit of Aparna to the house of the Professor the discussion were usually on academic topics, in which the wife couldn’t participate.

In a particular sequence, the vulnerability of the Professor’s character is revealed to us when Aparna reads out certain literary criticism of the Professor’s work by a reviewer at which the Professor started simmering.Perhaps Aparna too found flaws in the professor’s writings. Her statement thatthe professor has possibly written the article in haste is a revelation of her skepticism. However that she was enamored of the professor is revealed when she decides to capture the various moods of her professor in photographs, by skillfully using her hobby of photography.

When Shabana comes to know of her father’s soft corner for Aparna, she goes to meet Aparna. A lady opens the door and said Aparna had left the place and gone off elsewhere.

Soon after, Aparna pays a visit to the Professor’s house on hearing that Shabana had come to meet her.The wife opens the door and invites Aparna in. Gradually the wife discloses of her husband’s secret cravings for Aparna, and the sketch drawn by her husband was shown to her. Unaware of the fact and caught in an awkward position before the wife and Shabana, Aparna jumps off her seat and goes out of the house, in order to save herself from more embarrassment.

Anjan Dutta plays Shabana’s boyfriend and is generally seen around with her in some sequences. Mrinal Sen makes a dig at fake religious God-man in the film.When the wife had lost all hope of her husband’s return and a neighbor (Lily Chakravorty) informs her of a religious man with miraculous capabilities, the wife on persuasion goes to meet the sadhu.
A huge crowd had assembled to meet the man with extra-ordinary powers. At that claustrophobic gathering, people even fainted. That the God-man was a hoax can be gauged when his followers began accepting money from rich people and secretly took them to the God-man through backdoor, and when people actually fainted they were being recommended to the doctor and not to the man with great powers at his disposal.

A relation of the family, Arunbabu (Anil Chaterjee) is a depiction of a very practical person,who ties himself closely with the professor’s family when he could foresee some benefits for him ( he had opened a tutorial center and wanted the professor to take some classes) but in the hour of distress of the family, his help was not much on display.

A few months later the professor’s huge collection of books were arranged to be donated to a public library by the uncle (Manohar Singh) where it will be kept for public usage, and a mention of the donor will find a place somewhere.

The ending sequence is particularly poignant. Exactly a year after the disappearance, the wife and the two daughters is shown recollecting memories about the professor and discussing the void it had caused in their lives. Shabana Azmi reveals what her father had said to her once “That sadly we all live just once. The professor possibly longed for a second life as it would help him to correct the mistakes he made in this life and achieve a higher level in his field.”

The film ends on this wistful note. Interestingly, the Director Mrinal Sen, had said in an interview that on re-assessment of his corpus of work, he would have liked to start afresh from scratch.  “Ek Din Achanak”is a very ‘personal’ work of Mrinal Sen embodying his feeling that a second life would help to achieve greater heights.

In the words of Mrinal Sen “I wish I could start from scratch. I have done good, bad and indifferent films. I wish I could erase it all and start afresh like the Professor of “Ek Din Achanak” who walked out on his family in a rainy day without even as much as informing anybody. One of the characters says “one of the saddest things in life is that you live only one life.” However famous you are, you are aware of your mediocrity in certain respects. When you realize that, you face a crisis that is insurmountable. Though I have an enviable position as a maker of good,bad and indifferent films, I cannot escape this feeling of mediocrity within.Perhaps it happens because we are too immersed in our own selves.”

“Ek Din Achanak” featured at the 12th International Film Festival in1988. “Ek Din Achanak” also got an award for the Best Supporting actress category at the National film awards that year. Mrinal Sen won the OCIC Award and an Honorable Mention for “Ek Din Achanak” in 1989 at the Venice International Film Festival. Sreeram Lagoo, Aparna Sen, Uttara Baonkar,Shabana Azmi, Arjun Chakravorty, Rupa Ganguly, Anil Chaterji and Lily Chakraborty formed the cast.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud Capped Star, 1960) is a cult film among serious film buffs, and some film lovers and critics praise it so highly so as to put it among the ‘top 10 films in World Cinema.’ Do I agree? At the outset let me state that I think I haven’t ever seen a film as bleak as this. Based on a story by Shaktipada Rajguru, the film traces the post-partition plight on a family and the exploitation of Nita, an earning woman with a large number of dependent family members. Her sacrifices eventually lead to a tragic ending. I am eschewing a detailed storyline which can be found in several reviews on the film.

Technically, the film is rich and uses interesting interplay of light and shadow, innovative sound (especially ‘when Nita descends the staircase’ sequence), symbolism (the last shot where a girl similar to Nita fixes her broken slippers and walks away, the recurring motif of a passing train signifying the division between the two Bengals), inventive shots (Nita’s face appearing in a latticed window, Nita viewing through the window when her lover comes to their house etc.) and quite a few others.  There is plentiful of music as well, Rabindrasangeet and Indian Classical music, used to good effect.

I have some issues with the storyline as well. How come Nita’s elder brother Sankar (Anil Chaterji), penniless when he left the house, suddenly become financially stable, so as to be able to sponsor a trip to the hill station for both of them. The time span appeared to be short between the two events. We have heard countless stories of how hard it is to make one successful in a big, mean city like Mumbai from where Sankar returns.

The actors perform credibly. Supriya Choudhury as Nita gives a soul stirring performance. Anil Chaterji as Sankar is terrific. Others in the cast viz., Niranjan Roy, Gita Dey, Bijon Bhattacharyya, Gyanesh Mukherjee and others are competent. The film does exhibit flashes of a genius at work, but for his pessimism and overt melodrama, Ghatak never figured in my favorite’s list.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5