Archive for the ‘Bangla 1950-60’ Category


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


SASHI BABUR SANSAR was based on a story by Ashapurna Devi. The film showcases the inability of the older generation through the character of a recently retired patriarch (Chabi Biswas) to come to terms with the changes represented by the needs and aspiration of GenNext.

The film boasts of an impressive cast that also includes Pahari Sanyal, Chandraboti, Sabitri Chatterjee, Arundhuti Mukherjee, Basant Choudhury, Anup Kumar, Jiben Bose and others. Chabi Biswas utters one of the most significant dialogues in the film when he says to his daughter-in-law Arundhuti Mukherjee “Tomra aageye jao, amader mariye jayo na …”

One interesting sub-text in the film has a similar ring to Satyajit Ray’s MAHANAGAR in that in both the films the daughter-in-law goes out to work to earn a few extra bucks for the family against the wishes of the orthodox father-in-law. I don’t know whether this was incorporated in the two novels on which these two films have been based on the writings of Ashapurna Devi and Narendranath Mitra.

The strong cast acts brilliantly and makes it a watchable fare. The film was directed by Sudhir Mukherjee, who also directed the remarkable film BASHER KELLA featuring Anup Kumar.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5


Image result for paresh bengali movie

In some respects PARESH by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay bears a resemblance to his story NISHKRITI. In both these stories, the elder brother a good Samaritan looks after the family business. Enters the second/middle brother — a greedy fellow wanting a division of the family property and cornering the lion’s share of it.

The titular protagonist Paresh (played by Nirmal Kumar) has grown up in the village under the tutelage of his uncle (elder brother of his father played by Pahari Sanyal). It is apparent that Paresh respects his uncle even more than his parents who try their best to steal their son from someone he really adores. The patriarch (Pahari Sanyal) has more faith in his nephew Paresh than on his own son Bimal (played by Premansu Bose). Bimal is greedy and falls into bad company. This has a ruinous effect on the family.

Misunderstanding surfaces in the relation between Paresh with his jhetu (Pahari Sanyal). To know the full story, watch this immensely moving film with brilliant performances by Pahari  Sanyal and Nirmal Kumar and ably supported by Manju Dey, Molina Devi, Sova Sen, Tulsi Chakraborty, Sabitri Chatterjee, Kamal Mitra and others.

The film was directed by Ajay Kar with music by Anupam Ghatak.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Directed by Tapan Sinha, the film deals with the struggles and hardship of the poor in this ruthless world. It boasts of an impressive star cast that includes Uttam Kumar, Manju Dey, Nirmal Kumar, Sabitri Chatterjee, Kanu Bandopadhyay, Jahar Roy, Tulsi Chakraborty, Shyam Laha, Chabi Biswas and others.
A professor (Uttam Kumar) and his wife (Manju Dey) comes to live as tenants in the house of one Kanhali-babu (Kanu Bandopadhyay). They develop a soft corner for Krishna, the daughter of the landlord (Sabitri Chaterjee). Kanhali-babu eked out a livelihood from the rent that his house fetched. He was a strict father, and his daughter had no independence of her own.
Krishna used to pass on the nutritious portion of her diet surreptitiously to her father and subsisted on the remnants. The professor’s wife discovers it and replenishes her diet sparing something for her from their meal. Kanhali-babu’s nagging trait infuriates Bhola (Johar Roy), the Professor’s servant.
Krishna is in love with a certain gentleman (Nirmal Kumar) but her father has arranged her marriage to a retarded man in lieu of a paltry sum of money. After a lot of melodrama, Krishna unites with her paramour (Nirmal Kumar).
The film doesn’t rise to any great heights, but nonetheless remain watchable. Towards the end Krishna suddenly discovers that beneath the stern exterior, Kanhali-babu was a very caring father and had stashed away huge wealth in order to marry off his daughter in grand style. Why then did Kanhali-babu tried to marry off Krishna by accepting a paltry amount from the bridegroom’s family. Director sir, can you explain? ….

Not too many films of yesteryears have survived the ravages of time. Thus, it was heartening to see that the print quality of this 54 year old Bengali film , an award winner @ Berlin Film Festival in 1962 in a good condition.
Watching the film one felt how the natural school of acting thrived in those days in the films of filmmakers like Tapan Sinha. It is a delight to watch actors like Chabi Biswas, Radhamohan Bhattacharyya, Manju Dey, Jahar Roy and others bring their respective roles alive with such finesse.

Around late 50s-early 60s Bengali filmmakers like Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha made a foreigner in Kolkata as the protagonist of their films. Kali Bannerjee played a Chinese hawker in Sen’s NEEL AKASER NEECHEY & Sinha’s KABULIWALLAH showcased Chabi Biswas as an Afghani Pathan. Both the films play around with suspicions arising in the minds of people when a bonding develops between the foreigner with a local (the wife in NEEL AKASER NEECHEY & the little girl in KABULIWALLAH). Did the two writers, Mahadevi Verma (Neel Akaser Neechey) & Tagore (Kabuliwallah) ever found any similarities in their works? In both the films the ending finds the protagonist returning to his home country.
The child actor is superlative. Jeben Bose & Nripati Chaterjee act in supporting roles. The director uses a couple of Rabindrasangeet in the film. KHORO BAYU BOY BEGE is one of them. The music of the film was scored by sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Writing in the  South Asia Security Trends (Wed, Jul 09 2008)  Rahul K. Bhonsle  (Editor, Livemint) says

For most of us engrossed in our daily drudgery of potholes to work and late night outs on weekends, Afghanistan may be another land where a war-like situation prevails. But not long ago, the Pathan was a household name immortalized by Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwala, which can move even the hard-hearted to tears to this day. It also picturizes the harsh land that Afghanistan was then, and it is apparent that nothing much has changed.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5

It is not too often that a film hit you hard when you least expect it becaue the director isn’t considered in the league of the most vaunted names in Bengali cinema. So, it was a pleasant pleasure to be bowled over on a recent viewing of the film KHOKABABUR PROTYABORTON , one of the most humanist and cruelest stories from the pen of Rabindranath Tagore.

The tale of a loyal servant Raicharran (Uttam Kumar) whose slight negligence led to the death of the son of his employer (Asit Baran) and how after the birth of his own son raises him as if he is a reincarnation of the deceased boy , and finally returning him to his employer claiming he had stolen him from them earlier constitute the storyline.
Uttam Kumar proves his versatality and acts brilliantly. Dipti Roy, Tulsi Chakraborty & Sova Sen comprise the supporting cast. The film is directed by Agradoot.
Rating: 4.1 out of 5


SAREY CHUATTOR is a hilarious comedy that retains its magic even to this day. The film is directed by Nirmal Dey, and based on a story by Bijon Bhattacharyya.
The film basically revolves around an uproar caused by a new romantic development between two boarders in a traditional boarding house with several inmates. It boasts of a stellar cast comprising Tulsi Chakraborty in a central role as caretaker/manager of the boarding. The other main actors include the most popular romantic pair of Bengali cinema – Uttam and Suchitra. The evergreen Bhanu Bandopadhyay too has a substantial role in the film. A number of prominent singers like Manabendra Mukhopadhyay, Shyamal Mitra and others have minor roles as inmates of the boarding house. The supporting cast includes Padda Debi, Haridhan Bannerjee and others.
The film has terrific songs – a zesty number like “Amar a joubon…” contrasts with a divinely Dhananjopy Bhattacharjee solo “A maaya to proboncho moy …” There are many scenes that evokes spontaneous laughter and the mistaken epistle episode involving Tulsi Chakraborty and Molina Devi is a personal favourite. There are many funny sequences like the one where Suchitra was offering sweets to Bhanu in her room, and two inmates from a floor below kept pestering them and when the window was shut on their face, they break into an impromptu song …
Rating: 3.8 out of 5