Archive for the ‘Aparna Sen’ Category

UNISHE APRIL marked the arrival of Rituparno Ghosh as a major filmmaker. Though it was his second film, it catapulted him into prominence winning quite a few National Awards in its wake. The strong point of UA is its performances – Aparna Sen and Debasree Roy act superbly in this mother-daughter tale of a missing bond between them. The film is inspired by Bergman’s AUTUMN SONATA.

The weakness of the film lies in part on the script – it is a bit strange to hear that when Aditi (Debasree Roy) is in deep love with a Delhi based boy (Prasenjit) and their relationship was on for quite some time yet the fact that Aditi’s mother is a Nationally renowned dancer is unknown to her paramour. The harping on suicide as a release from inner turmoil and the outside storm sequence during the night symbolising the inner turmoil of Aditi appear rather cliched (even Satyajit Ray did this in CHARULATA towards the climax) . The supporting cast includes Dipankar Dey, Boddiswata Mazumdar and others.

The story and screenplay of the film is credited to Rituparno Ghosh.

Rating: 3.9 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

 

                                                                     Jana Aranya, 1976 film, poster.jpg

There is a thematic similarity and continuation seen in the films of Satyajit Ray. The struggle of an individual to cope with unethical practices in his profession has been the leitmotif in several Ray works – Mahanagar, Seemabaddha, Jana Aranya, Ganashatru & Shakha Prosakha. Some sequences like that of the dinner table conversation between the father (Satya Bannerjee) & sons (Pradip Mukherjee & Dipankar Dey) could also be seen in later works of Ray like Shakha Prosakha.

Based on a story by famed writer Sankar, Jana Aranya (The Middlemen) is a probing work by Ray that delves into the innermost depth of the human conscience.

Some of the sequences of the protagonist Somnath Bannerjee (Pradip Mukherjee) scouring for a job & facing rejection amidst a huge number of applicants can also be traced in Mrinal Sen’s CHORUS (1974). But while MS adopted a playful approach in telling a topical tale about unemployment, Ray strikes a rather serious note and JANA ARANYA is bereft of any lighter sequences.

The supporting cast includes Lily Chakraborty, Robi Ghosh, Utpal Dutta, Aparna Sen and others.

Rating: 3.7 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

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SAMAPTI is the most romantic film of Satyajit Ray IMHO. Based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore, this film shows the maturing of a childish mischevous girl into a woman.

This is the first pairing of Soumitra-Aparna later seen in many successful films from AKASH KUSUM, CHUTIR PANDEY, BASANTA BILAP to the relatively recent film PAROMITAR EKDIN.

Both Soumtro and Aparna act credibly. Though the humorous sequences doesn’t always evoke a laughter, but overall the small duration film succeed in delivering the central theme quite forcefully.

 

From Amartya Sen’s THE ARGUMENTATIVE INDIAN (Our Culture, Their Culture, Pg 124-125)

Words, too, have a function that goes well beyond the information they directly convey; much is communicated by the sound of the language and special choice of words to convey a meaning, or to create a particular effect. As Ray has noted, ‘in a sound film, words are expected to perform not only a narrative but a plastic function’, and ‘much will be missed unless one knows the language, and knows it well’.

Indeed even the narrative may be inescapably transformed because of language barriers, especially the difficulty of conveying nuance through tradition. I was reminded of Ray’s remark the other day, when I saw TEEN KANYA again, in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  where a festival of Satyajit Ray’s films (based on the wonderful reissues produced by the Merchant-Ivory enterprises) was being held. When obdurate Paglee – in the sparkling form of Aparna Sen – decide to write, at last, a letter to her spurned husband, she conveys her new sense of intimacy by addressing her in the familiar form ‘Tumi’ (as he has requested), rather than the formal and overly respectful ‘apni’. This could not, of course, be caught in the English subtitle. So the translation had to show her as signing the letter as ‘your wife’ (to convey here new sense of intimacy). But the Bengali original in which she still signs as ‘Paglee’ but addresses him in the familiar form ‘tumi’ is infinitely more subtle.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5

Ajantrik

Posted: January 27, 2016 in Aparna Sen, Ritwik Ghatak

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Mrinal Sen made Akash Kusum (Up in the clouds) in 1965. Akash Kusum was on the longings of a middle class executive to rise in stature and greater social acceptability. Soumitro Chaterji played the central role in this movie. Aparna Sen, Subhendu Chaterji, Jnanesh Mukherji, Sova Sen, Haradhan Banerji were the other performers. This had a rather straight-forward story with not much thematic novelty, but contained experiments with cinematic techniques like ‘Jump Cuts.’ It spawned a Hindi remake made by Basu Chaterji called MANZIL featuring Amitabh Bachchan (with slight alterations). The review of the film sparked a long running debate between Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray, which was prominently featured in a leading newspaper published from Calcutta.

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The story: Soumitro, a middle class executive, falls for Aparna Sen. Soumitro’s friend ( Subhendu Chaterji ) owns a good flat in Calcutta and Soumitro makes use of most of his friend’s possessions – telephones, cars and the flat itself. Soumitro introduces himself as the owner of the house of Subhendu to Aparna, and also makes the mistake of inviting Aparna Sen’s parents (Haradhan Banerji and Sova Sen) to the house. Certain scenes remains etched in memory. When Soumitro goes to a saree shop with Aparna Sen, and says that he has forgotten his wallet back in the office, rings back and starts blabbering something with no one at the other end of the phone – it was a hilarious sequence.

Soon Subhendu Chaterji’s mother comes to Calcutta to stay with her son. Another hilarious sequence was when Soumitro receives a phone call from Aparna in front of Subhendu and his mother and tries to evade Aparna on the phone with some lame excuses (such as ‘he has come to attend the phone while he was shaving, and which i.e shaving is now half done’).

Soon Soumitro’s lies get exposed. One day, Haradhan Banerji, father of Aparna comes to Subhendu’s house (which Soumitro has claimed as his own) and meets Subhendu’s mother. She tells Haradhan that Soumitro is the bosom friend of her son (Subhendu) and comes there everyday, and that Soumitro actually stays elsewhere. Haradhan returns home and tells Aparna that Soumitro is an imposter – a cheat. When Soumitro comes to meet Aparna at her residence, Haradhan commands Soumitro to leave the house and never try to meet Aparna again.

The last scene was quite memorable. Soumitro is seen leaving the house as Haradhan commanded, while at the gate he looks back and sees Aparna on the window, and soon both starts waving at each other, knowing that the curtain is falling on their relationship .

In Akash Kusum, Mrinal Sen used jump cuts and freeze shots a la Godard, and he was promptly accused of gimmickry.

Mrinal has often been seen to be somewhat critical of Indian film reviewers. It started from Akash Kusum. Sen has always made economical usages of still photographs in his films. In Akash Kusum in a situation where Soumitro realizes that all his efforts are in vain, at that moment Sen makes use of a still photograph. When darkness slowly fades in Gyanesh Mukhopadhay says ” He he he he … aaro kichu taka chai je sir.” (with a mischievous laughter, Gyanesh Mukherjee demanded more money) To depict such a cruel situation aptly, Sen was able to arrive with minimal cost and this he considers an achievement. He could not have depicted it in any other way. Reviewing this sequence and the film as a whole, the reviewer of the Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika commented that “This is not a moving film. This is a still film.” Proves that a little deviation from set norms in Indian film making is bound to bring criticism to its maker.

Mrinal Sen introduced Subhendu Chaterji in this film. AKASH KUSUM was based on a story by Ashish Burman. Music was scored by Sudhin Dasgupta.

In the romantic world of Mrinal Sen – Baisey Shravan, Akash Kusum, Khandahar and Mahaprithibi (with the notable exception of Amar Bhuban) a happy ending doesn’t greet the viewers. Even in the non romantic man-woman relationship (Neel Akaser Neechey, Bhuvan Shome, Antareen) the warmth is short-lived. Love doesn’t manage to trump the counter currents and triumph at the end.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5