Archive for the ‘Bhibuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay’ Category

Ahwan

AHWAN narrates the tale of one Bimol (Anil Chaterjee) who returns to his native village after several years. He had left his village to pursue higher education in Kolkata.

After his initial comeback,  he began dividing his time between his village and Kolkata where he worked. He befriends an elderly Muslim lady in the village who is alone and has no one to look after her. A strong bond develops between her and Bimol. A touching scene is when she arrives to see an ailing Bimol after bathing herself in ‘Gangajaal’ (water of river Ganga) on a cold wintry night because being a Muslim she wasn’t encouraged inside homes of orthodox Hindu families.

There is also a triangular romantic angle where Bimol is caught between an urbane lady (Lily Chakraborty) and the rural belle (Sandhya Roy). Watch the film to find out what happens…

The film is directed by Arabinda Mukhopadhyay and based on a powerful story of Hindu Muslim amity and differences by Bhibuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay. The supporting cast includes Premanshu Bose, Anoop Kumar and others.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5

 

Apur-Sansar

“Kajal eseche bole, Aparna chole gache”

(Aparna died as a consequence of bringing her child into this world)

When his friend asks Apu (Soumitra Chattopadhyay) the reason of his detachment from his child Kajal, Apu makes the rather blunt statement above. In the last film of the Apu trilogy based on a Bhubuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay novel, ‘Apur Sansar,’ Ray visually and tellingly captures the grief that Apu experiences on losing his wife Aparna (Sharmila Tagore) prematurely. His deep love for his wife made Apu lose interest in life, and he aimlessly drifts from one place to another.

Meanwhile, his son grows up as a mischievous boy and lives with his grandparents back in the village. After a long persuasion by his friend, Apu visits his son. After the initial resistance (Kajal throws a pebble towards Apu), a bond develops in the father-son relationship.

The final shot of Apu carrying his son on his shoulder is a reaffirmation that life doesn’t always end with grave personal tragedies, and must continue for the sake of the future generation. The film is rich in visual imagery, and the dialogue is sparse. A particular scene in the film where Apu slaps his brother-in-law Murari when he breaks the news of the death of Aparna to him has been widely disputed.  The slap is not in the novel. It found an echo in some reviews. The Hindustan Standard Critic claimed: “The whole incident too will appear shocking to many, as it runs counter to the author’s original conception of the character. In this connection it may also be mentioned that other deviations from Bhubuti Bhusan Bannerjee’s novel have hardly improved the film.” Virtually the same words appear in the Bengali language newspaper Ananda Bazar Patrika.

Apur Sansar was shot in Maheshganj (close to Nabadweep and Krishnanagar). Ray needed a wide river and he got a wide river named Jalangi. A major accident could have occured during the filming (of two boats ramming into each other) which was averted by Ray’s assistant director Shailen Dutta.

Probably the most remarkable reaction to Apur Sansar was that of James Powers, reviewing the film for the tough Hollywood Reporter. He said: “It is good for Hollywood to see a film of this sort and of this success. Made with little more than a camera and imagination, it is a reminder that our great technical improvements are often priceless assets. It is a reminder also that they should remain assets, not to be treated as fundamentals, and that the chief ingredient of any film is still the intangible genius of its maker.” (Marie Seton, Portrait of a Director: Satyajit Ray, 139, Dobson).

Rating: 4 out of 5

asoni

Satyajit Ray’s ‘Asoni Sonket’ (1973) depicts life in a village with the specter of famine looming large. When rice gets scarce, people stoop to the level of consuming snails in order to survive…the narrative progresses through Soumitro Chaterji, the lone Brahman in the village. He is a teacher, physician and priest – an all-in-one for the poor villagers who address him affectionately as Panditji. This languid paced color film by master filmmaker Satyajit Ray shows rural life and the frailties of human beings, especially of women who even becomes willing to trade flesh for a few morsel of rice for the family. It was based on a story by famed writer Bhibuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay.

asoni1asoni2

In Asoni Sanket, Ray uses symbolism in some sequences (butterflies fluttering etc …) that were completely lost on me. I also found echo/references to the works of Mrinal Sen in the thematic sameness with ‘Baisey Shravan’ (1959), or the use of documentary footage and stills as in Sen’s ‘Calcutta Seventy-One’ (1972).  The film ends with a message on the screen that “during the famine of 1943, five million people just collapsed and died…it was mostly man made…the times were truly terrifying….”

Soumitro Chaterji in the pivotal role acts competently. The other central performers were Bobita and Sandhya Roy.

Some of the sequences are quite stark. The sequence of the girl dying towards the end is conveyed using a freeze frame and a close up of her eyes. Inspite of the bleakness of the subject, the film ends on an optimistic note with the wife of Soumitro announcing the arrival of their child. The rural backdrop has been evoked with good photography.

Writing in the book MANIK AND I (Penguin India, Page 360) Ray’s wife Bijaya Ray mentions that “While Manik was shooting Asani Sanket, Babu(Sandip Ray) had recoreded the filming in his 16mm camera and turned it into a film called THE MAKING OF ASONI SANKET. It was a well-made film, and will have historic value one day.”

ASANI SANKET won the Golden Bear for Best Picture at the Berlin Film Festival in 1973.

DSC_0664

 Rating: 3 out of 5