Archive for the ‘Bengali films’ Category

Bengali cinema is unlucky to have lost some of its most prodigious talent before they could reach anywhere near the end of their career – Ritwik Ghatak, Rituparna Ghosh, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay, Nabyendu Chaterjee and … Anjan Das. The last named is the director of SANJHBATIR ROOPKATHARA.

This film starts on a predictable note. One was beginning to feel that it was just another ‘exploitation of women’ kind of film about the protagonist daughter Saajhbati (Indrani Halder) of a well-known painter (Soumitro Chattopadhyay). Midway through the movie, the film unfolds an unexpected development and thereafter the film becomes a powerful exploration of the perils of fame, the father-daughter relationship, love and betrayal, lust and insanity, hope and longings, setbacks and comebacks.

The performances are praiseworthy. Indrani Halder in the titular role is convincing. After Pramathesh Barua’s MUKTI in the 1930s, we have the painter as a major character in Bengali films like SWET PATHARER THALA & this one. The supporting cast includes Paran Bandopadhyay, Ketaki Dutta, Firdaus and others.

Rating: 4.1 out of 5

 

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There are certain films that you enjoy watching because of its rootedness, fine performances, social commentary, lovely songs and a light-hearted treatment while addressing issues of national concern. Inter-community marriages, the urgency of providing medical care in the villages, the need to adapt to changing social values have been woven into the storyline of ANAND ASHRAM.

The brilliance of Ashok Kumar as the patriarch, the chemistry of Uttam Kumar and

Sharmila Tagore, the able support by the supporting cast like Utpal Dutt, Moushumi Chatterjee, Rakesh Roshan and a memorable role for Asit Sen as a caretaker instrumental in raising the children of the orthodox family of Ashok Kumar are the highlights of this watchable film. The film was directed by Shakti Samanta.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5

ABBAJAN is credited to be written and directed by Anjan Choudhury (Shatru). The story seems influenced in portions by Tagore’s KABULIWALLAH. In this film, like in the Tagore novel, the lady of the house (Sabitri Chaterjee) harbors suspicion about her daughter’s closeness with a stranger, the difference being that in this film the girl is much older compared to Minnie of KABULIWALLAH.

While Kabuliwallahs from Afghanistan were viewed with suspicion in the Tagore piece, Muslim neighbors replace Kabuliwallahs as victims of suspicion in the eyes of the lady of the house, an orthodox Hindu resenting Muslims. The titular character of ABBAJAN (Ranjit Mullick), a wealthy Muslim neighbor (with a tragic past) of a Hindu family (Dilip Roy, Sabitri Chaterjee and their son & daughter) resembles in some respects to that of KABULIWALLAH, the situation of a close bond developing with the girl with the affectionate and understanding father seem so similar. In both these works, the titular protagonists were missing their daughter and the void accounted for the bond that develops.

Overall, a significant film that emphasizes on the need to build trust between Hindus and Muslims. The supporting cast includes Subhendu Chatterjee, Sumitra Mukherjee, Abhishek Chaterjee, Pallavi Chaterjee, Chumki Choudhury and others.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

I recently saw Hindi Medium (2017), a much feted Bollywood film featuring one of my all-time fave actor, Irrfan Khan. I wanted to watch this one particularly after allegations surfaced that the film has borrowed from the Bengali sleeper hit RAMDHANU (2014), a film that I have quite enjoyed – something that the makers of HINDI MEDIUM has vehemently denied.

HINDI MEDIUM started off on a promising note. I was enjoying the lead couple’s brilliant put-ons & Punjabi flashiness (they enact a  Chandni Chowk trader from Punjab). But after a while, HM loses steam. The affluent business couple suddenly hits upon an idea to present themselves as one from the poorer strata of society in order to secure admission for their daughter in a private school. I felt this portion was rather far-fetched and the weak link of the film. Hereafter, HM became preachy and illogical and meandered towards a predictable end.

The basic theme of Hindi Medium matches with the Bengali film – the hardships parent endure to secure school admission for their child. The protagonists in both the films are deficient and try to hone their English speaking ability providing some funny moments. The central similarity is too glaring to be dismissed. Apart from the basic theme, HM differs vastly from RAMDHANU and the sub-plots doesn’t bear any kind of sameness.

I don’t know why the makers of HINDI MEDIUM are refusing to acknowledge their inspiration. Even in the past we have had several instances of successful Bengali films remade in Hindi which proved to be hits in Bollywood. Films like MERE APNE (Apanjan), CHUPKE CHUPKE (Chhodobesi), MANZIL (Akash Kusum), BEMISAL (Ami se o sakha), KORA KAGAZ (Saat Pake Badha), BAWARCHI (Golpo Holeo Satti) and many others which were successful in the original language and later remade successfully in Hindi. I think the earlier directors of such remakes have acknowledged the original work.

 

 

Of late, Bengal seems to be making films that capture a motley group of characters trying to deal with emerging social issues in an urban setting. Films like RUPKATHA NOY & MAACH, MISTI & MORE and this one bear more than a striking similarity with one another. These films are crisp, well acted and photographed and keeps afloat the promise that all is not lost for meaningful cinema in the age of ‘100 crore club’ films.

Family Album Poster

 

I particularly liked the ending sequence of FAMILY ALBUM. The film ended on quite an unexpected note. The cast includes Paoli Dam, Swastika Mukherjee, Reema Sen, Kaushik Sen, Santu Mukherjee and others. The film is directed by Mainak Bhaumik.

 

Asi Te Asio Na

A neglected octogenarian (Bhanu Bandopadhyay) stumbles upon a miraculous discovery…Fed up with the ill-treatment meted out to him and his wife (Ruma Guha Thakurta) by his children, he longs for an escape from his dreary existence. Accidentally, he even finds a solution to all of his woes. He discovers a pond where on taking a dip one regains his youth. When he transforms into a handsome young man, many were forced to accept the miracle as real. Quite predictably, all hell breaks loose …

From a chemist keen to investigate the composition of the water in the pond, senior officers in the Govt. keen to cash on its benefits, the change in the behavior of the children and their wives towards the man, sundry characters trying to make the most of the situation – everything adds up to make this an absolutely laugh riot.

Bhanu Bandopadhyay and Robi Ghosh deliver sterling performances. The supporting cast which includes Ruma Guha Thakurta, Kamal Mitra, Renuka, Asit Baran, Tarun Kumar, Shyam Laha and others perform creditably.

Does Bhanu forever remain young? Could such a miracle really have taken place? Watch the film to know the answers …one of the most hilarious Bengali films ever IMHO.

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