Archive for the ‘anjan dutt’ Category

Recently the versatile actress Geeta Sen passed away. Besides acting in the films of her husband Mrinal Sen, she has also acted in Ghatak’s NAGARIK and Shyam Benegal’s AROHAN. Kolkata DD showed her film CHALCHITRO recently as a mark of respect.

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The Mrinal Sen directed CHALCHITRO (Kaleidoscope, 1981) is a film that has not been screened in India previously as far as I know. It is a film that only a Mrinal Sen would have the courage to make. There is hardly any story so to speak, no attractive heroine features in it to make it pleasing to a viewer. But Mrinal Sen being Mrinal Sen, he has the rare ability to make the mundane the stuff of great cinematic material. Like Jean Luc Godard, MS captures life in everyday Kolkata with its vicissitudes, idiosyncrasies, humaneness and pettiness under the pretext of a storyline – the hunt of a print journalist (Anjan Dutt) for a story/scoop that is saleable. The editor of the newspaper (Utpal Dutt) likens modern life to a stock market – every aspect of it involve a kind of buying and selling.

“How many ovens are there in Kolkata?” The director also highlights environmental concern with rapid urbanization and use of unclean energy used for cooking during the late seventies. Gita Sen acts as the mother of the protagonist struggling to make ends meet for the family. The lives of several independent families all living under a common roof quibbling and sharing joys and miseries have been depicted aptly.

The film was screened at London and Venice Film festivals. Watching CHALCHITRO recently one felt sad for the demise of THE ACTRESS who brilliantly brought to life the quotidian characters in the films of Mrinal Sen, be it in CHORUS, EK DIN PRATIDIN or KHANDAHAR.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The 1991 Mrinal Sen film MAHA PRITHIBI bears resemblance to some of the later films of Ray like GANASHATRU, SHAKHA PROSAKHA & AGUNTUK. In these films the two master filmmakers are seen reflecting on the winds of change sweeping contemporary society. These have been shot mostly indoors and verbosity dominates unlike their other works.
MAHA PRITHIBI shows the maturation and brilliance of a filmmaker in telling an incidental story weaving in the external forces (World Outside) into the drawing room of a middle class Bengali family (World Within).The usual Mrinalian signature style is all there – oscillatory/flashback mode, the probing of human relationships, use of newsreel and such devices, politics and violence.
Some of the sequences also seem a continuation of scenes that we have seen in the past. The scene where Soumitro gives money to his naxalite son in this film before he begins his journey as a fugitive is reminscent of the last sequence of PADATIK where the ‘differing’ father extends solidarity to his son (Dhritiman Chatterjee).
Sen conveys a lot visually in this film in comparison to his other works. Whether it is the sequence of the foreign returned son (Victor Bannerjee) inspecting the room of his dead mother, the fan in which his mother ended her life, or the unfilling of liquor on a potted plant the scenes are quite poignant in its communication of feelings.

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In assessing the tumult of the times where violence is an integral part of our lives, nowhere Sen seems to be judgemental but in the sequence of the boy Tinni playing with his gun cutting into a preceding newsreel report on violence Sen seems to be hinting that seed of violence and gun culture are imbibed in children since an early age. And there is no escape from it.
Rating: 4.2 out of 5

MAHAPRITHIBI opens with a suicide committed by an elderly lady of a family (Gita Sen). Gradually, the unfolding of the reasons as to why she has committed suicide is divulged to us.

Gita Sen had three sons and a daughter, her eldest son got involved in the Naxalite movement and was gunned down by the Police. The death of her son greatly affected Gita Sen. Her daughter-in-law (Aparna Sen), from the marriage of her eldest son , becomes a widow. Before her marriage,Aparna Sen was in a relationship with her husband’s younger brother (Victor Bannerji). Soon after the death of his elder brother, Victor Bannerji leaves for Germany and finds a job for himself in that country.

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Victor Bannerji went abroad because his past flame Aparna Sen now lived in their house. This might have hurt Gita Sen, who possibly longed to be close to her other two sons, after her eldest son was killed brutally.The third child of Gita Sen was Anjan Dutta,and Anusya Mazumdar enacted the role of her daughter,with shades of insanity.The third son,Anjan Dutta,was also jobless and this further affected Gita Sen,who was concerned that her youngest son was unable to support himself. Soumitra Chaterji enacts the role of the husband and the patriarch with finesse.

Victor Bannerji encounters difficult times in Germany,with racial attacks,joblessness on the rise in Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall. As in PADATIK, Mrinal Sen uses a lot of newspaper clippings to drive home the point to the viewers that unrest is sweeping Germany.But in his correspondences with his mother,Victor Bannerji gave no inkling of the fact that he is facing hard times in a foreign land. After getting the news that his mother had committed suicide,Victor Bannerji returns home. It is a homecoming for this son with the mother who pined for him now gone forever.

Victor Bannerji is welcomed by his family members,and together they try to wipe out their sorrow and finding solace in each other’s company.

Sen’s  MAHAPRITHIBI was on global changing social order.Based on the script by Anjan Dutta,it probed changing social values in those troubled times. Soumitro Chaterji,Gita De,Anjan Dutta,Aparna Sen,Anusya Mazumdar & Victor Banerji comprised the cast.Through this tale of a mother who commits suicide, Mrinal Sen in this film reveals his penchant for exploring fissures in human relationship(as in EK DIN ACHANAK) between individuals bonded by a close tie.The fall of the Berlin wall was knitted into the story. With the fall of communism across the world, Sen in one of his interviews said that he once took pride to call himself a private Marxist, but now he doesn’t have the same courage to call himself the same.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5

 

The Anjan Dutt directed film BYOMKESH BAKSHI (2015) is based on a story KAHEN KABI KALIDAS by Saradindu Bandopadhyay. The film centers around a murder and workers unrest in a coal mining town in Bihar. It is rightly paced for a thriller and sustain interest till the end.

Many of the characters have shades of grey. This makes for an absorbing fare and the unusual ending raises it above the average fare.

The camerawork is good and the suspenseful sequences are handled competently. In the acting department Jishu Sengupta in the titular role and Saswata Chatterjee as his assistant Ajit are first rate. Kunal Sen, Deb Dutt and others act in supporting roles. Music by Neel Dutt.

Rating: 3.7 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).

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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

In Dekha (2001), Gautam Ghose makes a veiled attack against the winds of change sweeping our society.  Based on a story by Sunil Gangopadhyay, all the characters in the film are caught in the web of life, sometimes owing to their flaws, or that of their spouse.  Through the character of a Milton-like blind poet, played by veteran Soumitra Chattopadhyay, who lives singly in a feudal property in Central Kolkata and the many supporting characters, the societal concern of the director gets entwined into the plot, with all the characters exhibiting shades of grey, rather than black and white.

When the repentant artist (Anjan Dutt) wants to return to the family fold with his estranged wife (Debasree Roy) who lives as a tenant in the house of the poet, the reluctance of the wife is indicative of resolve and strength. However, when she develops a soft corner for a blind refugee Bangladeshi singer quite suddenly, we witness her vulnerability. This is also one of the weak links in the film.

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Marital discord, Partition of the Nation, Communalism, Heritage Preservation (old printing press becoming redundant in the age of computers & laser printers), Environmental concerns of rapid urbanization& declining habitat for the birds and the marginalized of the society, a longing for Nature, Music and Poetry shines through smoothly in the narrative with the final symbolic shot showing fluttering papers around the empty chair where the poet sat (signifying his death) is a directorial signature exposing declining value being accorded increasingly to the works of good poets and writers.

As in all GG films this is beautifully shot as well. The dimming vision of the poet afflicted with glaucoma is beautifully depicted symbolically through blurring & bubbles (just like it happens when we take photographs in improper lighting, focus or atmospheric condition) when seen through the eyes of the protagonist which the camera captures inventively during the nightly sexual escapades of the bard.

In some sequences, Ghose appears to be paying his homage to Ghatak in his invocation of the pangs of partition, as also in the sequence showing the small boy enamored with the interplay of light and shadow on the walls in the house of the poet.  Through the gradual losing of sight of his main character the director seems to be highlighting the darkness that is progressively engulfing us. GG doesn’t present anything that would seem to suggest that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is as layered as it can get in the cinemas.

Gautam Ghose is an actor’s director. Soumitro Chattopadhyay delivers a brilliant performance in this film. Whether it was Shatrughan Sinha in ANTARJALI YATRA or Prasenjit in MONER MANUSH or Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in PAAR, his actors have always had an opportunity to showcase their prowess in his films.

The supporting cast includes Rupa Ganguly, Indrani Halder, Haradhan Bandopadhyay & Paran Bandopadhyay.

Rating: 4.1 out of 5

Ganesh Talkies

Posted: April 1, 2014 in anjan dutt, Bengali films

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Ei boka cinema ta hoye jete pare hit (This stupid film may turn out to be a hit)

When the credit rolls at the end of the film, the director Anjan Dutt, who is also a well-known singer, croons the above lines mocking his own creation, possibly a lament for serious filmmakers unable to find adequate cinegoers rooting for their kind of work…

‘Ganesh Talkies’ is a crossover film from Anjan Dutt, his most commercial release till date.

The film explores friendship across communities between two friends in the face of resistance to inter-community marriages (between a Bengali girl and a Marwari boy) against the backdrop of a changing Kolkata. It evokes a nostalgic feeling for the heritage from the past being eroded from our lives with wanton commercialization. Even Anjan Dutt’s earlier work DUTTA VS DUTTA harped on a similar sentiment of relationships falling apart in our modern society. The film has the right mix of drama, action, masala songs and Rabindrasangeet, a sutradhar narrating the proceedings…

Quite an enjoyable fare. The various characters in the film are essayed by Biswajit Chakraborty, Rajesh Sharma, Raima Sen, Rita Kariyal, Pallavi Chatterjee and others.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5