Archive for the ‘Bengali films’ Category

 

STREE features the two titans of Bangla cinema in a complex tale of unrequited love and trust, and frightening consequences of leading a life of debauchery. At some level, it echoes the Tagore story NOSHTO NEER (made into CHARULATA by Satyajit Ray)  where the heroine Mrinmoyee (Arati Bhattacharjee) resembles Charulata in that she is married to an aristocratic household and a hard-drinking husband (Uttam Kumar) who has no time for her. This becomes the pretext for the amorous relationship to flower with her ex-lover Sitapati (Soumitro Chattopadhyay) when they accidently meet once again.  At another level, the film is a sort of SAHEB, BIWI & GHULAM, the powerful Bimal Mitra story about feudal extravagance and decadence.

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Towards the end, when Soumitro finally walks out of the house, he looks back once in a sort of homage to the concluding scene in Mrinal Sen’s AKASH KUSUM. There’re several wonderful songs (‘Tomader konta asol konta nokol tomra nijey jano na … & others), fine performances by the lead cast (Soumitro, Uttam, Arati) & the supporting cast (Tarun Kumar, Subrata Chatterjee, Jahar Roy).

All in all, quite an absorbing fare directed by Salil Dutta.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5

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PONKHIRAJ narrates the tale of three struggling friends – Sankar (Soumitro Chattopadhyay), Robi (Samit Bhanja) & Sunil (Santu Mukherjee). They run a garage – International Motor works in an area infested by evil persons like Mota Ghosh (Utpal Dutt) and others who are involved in a racket that steal and deal in cars.

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The film echoes influences of several Bengali films – from Tapan Sinha’s APANJAN to Ritwik Ghatak’s AJANTRIK to the much later Sandip Ray film UTTARON based on a Satyajit Ray story about the inability of the weaker section of society to purchase expensive medicines.
It is a sheer pleasure to watch the two greats of Bengali cinema, Soumitro Chattopadhyay and Uttam Kumar, in top form in the film ably supported by the strong cast of Utpal Dutt, Samit Bhanja, Santu Mukhopadhyay, Tarun Kumar and others. There’s Chinmoy Roy for comic relief.
The film mirrors the relentless fight that ensues between the evil and the righteous. When Soumitro says “Ami struggle korte chai, ami criminal hote chai na…” you feel the genuineness of the utterance. Robi is a gifted singer and rescues small child from unscrupulous employers. There’re moments of love and tenderness involving the protagonist with fine songs pictured effectively. Issues of child labor and need of education for such children are highlighted.
There’s murder and intrigue and much else in this watchable mainstream Bengali film. The end provides the director’s comment on his film – “Ei osamajik manush gulo ke amra jeno grina na kori” (We should not hate these unsocial elements of society). The film was directed by Pijush Bose.
Rating: 3.6 out of 5

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A couple falls in love, gets married and thereafter separates. They meet quite unexpectedly fifteen years later on a train journey where the man (Prasenjit)’s second wife (Aparajita Auddy) befriends the former spouse (Rituparna Sengupta). A group of singers (Anindyo Chattopadhyay, Surojit, Anupam Roy), an elderly couple (Soumitro Chattopadhyay, Sabitri Chattopadhyay) & a newlywed couple on their honeymoon are also on this train bound for Kolkata from Mumbai.
The situation look somewhat implausible though the film remains immensely watchable. A highlight would certainly be that of Soumitro Chattopadhyay reciting Tagore’s poem HATATH DEKHA. A hilarious sequence is Sabitri Chattopadhyay’s attempt at speaking Hindi laced in heavy Bengali. In a TV show on Zee Bangla the Bengali director Prabhat Roy said “The technical qualities of PRAKTHAN is of a very high standard.” In the same TV show the actors who acted in the film revealed that the renowned art director Nitish Roy created such an authentic set that it looked like exactly like a real train.
The production work of the film was done entirely in Kolkata and use of drones were made of for the first time in Bengali cinema for high angle shots of landmarks of Kolkata. The supporting cast includes Manali De and others.

The film has been directed by the duo Siboprasad Mukhopadhyay – Nandita Roy.
Rating: 3.5 out f 5

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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

 

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VASUNDHARA focuses on the deep level of corruption in our villages. The film unfolds the exploitation in one such village through the protagonist, a conscientious BDO (Block Development Officer played by Soumitro Chattopadhyay) who arrives there to take charge after the transfer notice of his predecessor who couldn’t continue beyond three months.

The entire village is in the grip of two corrupt persons, a Muslim landlord Haji Saheb with political ambition and his accomplice, Mr. Saha (Rajen Tarafdar). They terrorise people, inflict torture upon them and swindle govt. funds ..
The film was directed by Shekhar Chatterjee who acted in films like BHUVAN SHOME. The supporting cast includes Lily Chakraborty, Robi Ghosh, Shekhar Chatterjee, Satinath Mukhopadhyay and others.

The film won the Rajat Kamal National Award for Best Bengali film in 1983.

Rating; 3 out of 5

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

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A successful middle aged businessman is endowed with a special charm that is irresistible to women. Obviously, they’re a dime a dozen in this intriguing tale of detective Shabor Dasgupta (Saswata Chattopadhyay in the role of the private eye) penned by Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay. There’s the wife Shivangi (Maya Ahson), her friend Nandita (Payel Sarkar) who gets murdered, the wife’s sister who lands down from Singapore and her servant Janvi…
There is suspense, consequences of child abuse, conflict of good and evil, of the duality arising from the distinction between the conscious and the sub-conscious …
The unfolding of the narrative is gripping. The actors perform superbly. June Mallya acts as a psychiatrist in a supporting role. The film is directed by Arindam Sil.
Rating: 3.8 out of 5