Archive for the ‘Buddhadeb Dasgupta’ Category

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KAGAZER NOUKA is a topical film that portrays the contemporary reality of a corruption ridden society. Through the character of a freedom fighter (Victor Bannerjee), a Gandhian with strong idealistic values the film mirrors the decadence and frustration facing the elderly who had sacrificed everything to liberate the Nation. In that respect, the film echoes Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s TAHADER KATHA. Otherwise, it is a very different film from TK and revolves around the nefarious chit-fund business that rocked West Bengal and brought about its disrepute.

The versatile Soumitro Chattopadhyay in the role of an evil businessman controlling the chit-fund empire & a childhood buddy of the protagonist freedom fighter is competent as usual. The others in the cast includes Bidita Bag, Anusya Mazumdar, Rajesh Sharma and others. Victor B reprises the role of an Angry old man again after LATHI and act with aplomb. The film is directed by Partha Pratim Joardar.

The film was severely criticized by some critics, but somehow I liked the subject matter and the unfolding of events and don’t attest the critics viewpoint who gave it a rating of 1, or 1.5 out of 5 to this film.

Rating; 3.5 out of 5

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Buddhadeb Dasgupta becomes quite pessimistic in some of his films (Tahader Katha, Bagh Bahadur, Phera, and now Janala). He seems to suggest that do-gooders have no place in our society and they have to pay a heavy price as does the protagonist (Indranil Sengupta) in the film. The situations and the developments appear a bit removed from reality. Although the wife of the protagonist (Swastika Mukherjee) works in a call centre, a modern profession she is constantly subjected to abuse and mental torture in her work.

Those who have seen Dasgupta’s earlier films this too has his signature written all over – a rural backdrop, dream sequences, performing artists and exploitation etc. The director paints a bleak picture of society where unscrupulous people have a field day. The school of the protagonist where he tries to donate a Janala (Window) is run by members who are only concerned about reaping financial dividends as does the owner of the circus which compels a couple who are trapeze artists and on the verge of becoming parents to flee from the circus. The director seems to be paying homage to the showman of Indian Cinema Raj Kapoor when his song from Mera Naam Joker played in the background during the performances of the trapeze artists.

The supporting cast includes Sankar Chakravorty, Tapas Pal, Manoj Mitra and others. This is a let down from the director who raised the bar of filmmaking with Dooratwa, Grihajuddha & Charachar.

Rating: 3 out of 5

As we celebrate the sixty-ninth anniversary of our Independence, I feel it is a moment for all of us to be proud and take pride in being the citizen of a free nation. We must recall the memories of so many freedom fighters that have sacrificed their lives / given it all to enable us to be a free citizen of a great country. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Surja Sen, Mangal Pandey, Khudiram Bose, Udham Singh, Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, Veer Savarkar, Bagha Jatin, Chandrashekar Azad and many others deserve respect for giving us this hard earned freedom… I was looking at celluloid and tried to discover some works that speak of the post freedom scenario. I drew a blank, except for this 1992 award winning film …

TAHADER KATHA (1992)

There have been several films on the lives of freedom fighters. However, one can’t recall any film which has been made on the plight of a freedom fighter in post Independent India. TAHADER KATHA captures the agony of one such freedom fighter Shibnath Mukherjee (Mithun Chakraborty) who returns after serving a long term prison sentence to his village. Shibnath was imprisoned for killing a British officer in pre-independence days, and the release happened in a free country.

The world he discovers in his village and elsewhere repulses him. It tellingly captures the decadence in society all around symbolizing that idealism, dreams and sacrifices of our freedom fighters have just evaporated – the gravest injustice that citizens of a free nation could have inflicted upon the memories of those who even laid down their lives for the sake of their motherland.

The film is rich in visual imagery. The scenic rural backdrop has been brilliantly used as a contrast to the inner turmoil of the protagonist. The father-son relationship and their dialogues are quite memorable. The film also touches upon the theme of partition and displacement and loss of a homeland. When Shibnath returns to his family he finds that their ancestral land has become part of a neighboring country.

The film ends quite poignantly. Shibnath is shown taken away from his village after being branded as a mad man in the train that brought him to the village in the initial sequence. Now, was that inspired by the mapping sequence as seen in the beginning and the ending of Ghatak’s MegheDhaka Tara? Anyway, this was a resonating commentary on the state of affairs prevailing in the nation.

The film uses a lot of tracking shots. Mithun Chakraborty gives a fine performance in the lead role. He won the second National award for Best actor for this superlative performance. He was ably supported by Dipankar Dey, Anusya Mazumdar, Haradhan Bannerjee and others. The film is based on a story by Kamal Kumar Majumdar.

Rating: 3.9 out of 5

 

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  1. Mrinal Sen                                                                                                                                                                         Most cine buffs would be surprised by my choice and would contest my preference. Yet I feel no Indian filmmaker has shown greater social commitment and yet managed to build an evolutionary narrative technique incorporating strands from International cinema developments and blending it seamlessly with the Indian story. List of outstanding films: Bhuvan Shome, Khandahar, Chorus, Akaler Sandhane, Kharij and many others                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              satyajit

2.  Satyajit Ray

The master storyteller and the most famous Indian filmmaker internationally. The only Indian recipient of the Oscars for Lifetime contribution to cinema. List of outstanding films: Pather Panchali, Kanchenjunga, Apur Sansar and several others.

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3. Gautam Ghose

Someone who has made films like Antarjali Yatra, Moner Manush & Paar ought to be bracketed with the very best. He has other notable works to his credit – Gudia, Patang, Padma Nadir Majhi, Dekha & Kaalbela, being some of them, Camerawork in his films are usually stunning (Antarjali Yatra, Abar Aranye, Padma Nadir Majhi). He has made several award winning documentaries.

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4. Tapan Sinha

He has more than forty films to his credit, several of them outstanding – Khoniker Athithe, Nirjan Saikate, Galpo Holeo Satti and many many others.

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5. Rituparno Ghosh

He led the revival of Bengali cinema and was instrumental in bringing the audience back to the theater. He espoused the feminine cause through his films woven in a tight narrative. List of outstanding films: Dahan, Raincoat, Bariwali, Asookh, Naukadubi, The Last Lear, Shubho Mahurat, Dosar and some others.

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6. Buddhadeb Dasgupta

The films of the poet-filmmaker has a lyrical quality about them. List of outstanding films: Charachar, Dooratwa, Uttara, Grihajuddha and some others.

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7. Ritwik Ghatak –  A pioneer of the cinema revolution in Bengal, his early film Nagarik is often considered as a fine specimen of realistic film making and preceded Ray’s Pather Panchali by a few years. Has a cult following, and as seen in MEGHE DHAKA TARA & SUBORNOREKHA wove innovative techniques in sound design, triple jump cuts and angular shots into the narrative. His use of melodrama often didn’t find favor with the discerning viewers. Had he made more films and lived longer (also Rituparno Ghosh), Bengal and Indian cinema would have greatly benefited.

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8. Aparna Sen – has made some remarkable films (36 chowringhee lane, paromitar ek din, gaynar baksho). Loneliness and human relationships are her pet themes.

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9. Pramathesh Barua – made socially relevant films in the 1930s – 1950s. He was a pioneer in introducing artificial lighting in Indian cinema. Mukti, Hirak Jayanti, Devdas, Sesh Uttor are some of the notable films he made.

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10. Debaki Basu

He introduced sound for the first time in films like Chandidas (1932) and was the first filmmaker to be awarded at International film festivals. His notable works include Vidyapati, Nartaki, Sagar Sangamey, Naba Janmo and several others.

bdas1Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s  CHARACHAR is based on a story by Prafulla Roy. The film deals with the life of a bird-catcher Lokha played by Rajat Kapur.  The film is an exploration of existence caught between ‘reality and a dream.’ The bird catcher’s wife Sari (Laboni Sarkar) leaves him for another man Natobor (Sankar Chakraborty) when his love for birds became overpowering, fuelled by the sensitivity with which his dead son cared for them when he was alive. He gradually detachs himself from the ‘reality’ of modern existence and eventually merges himself at one with his ‘dream’ – becomes exactly like a bird without any worries of the world.

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Bhusan Kaka ( Sadhu Meher ), a fellow bird catcher and his daughter Gauri ( Indrani Halder ) attempts to provide some comfort in his tumultous existence. Disenchanted with the way people became rich in his trade Lokha resolved that henceforth he would put a full stop to all of his bird catching activeties. He says optimistically that the jungle would be able to provide sufficient food for his needs. The director recurringly makes use of dream sequences and this film, more than any of his other works, have a poetical quality in the treatment. Apart from the thematic novelty, a genre hitherto unexplored by serious Indian filmmakers even though we have had such wonderful films like  ‘Born Free’ and ‘Hatari’ made in the West aeons ago, the film effectively captures the agony of a man caught in the wrong profession. The film soars above the standards set by most Indian filmmakers and highlights the distinctiveness of Dasgupta as a filmmaker. Succintly the film is an essay of possibly a dream that the director cherishes and not a hard-hitting statement about the ground reality facing a bird catcher’s life. The ending sequence has a dream like quality about it. Embellished by strong perfomances from the entire cast the film is shot beautifully adding to its strength. Memorable stuff.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Skilful direction was provided by Buddhadeb Dasgupta in this Costa Gavra ( Z, Missing, Betrayal ) inspired filmmaking venture in the early eighties. GRIHAJUDDHA ( Crossroads ) is based on a short story Mach by Dibyendu Palit. In an interview the writer admitted that the film version was superior in many respects than his novel.

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The gist: Mr Ghosh is an employee in a certain big firm in Behrampur. An idealist minded person, he uncovers gross irregularities in several transactions made by the company he serves. He approaches and apprises the Ministry of these nefarious dealings. He also tenders resignation from the company. A few days later, Mr Ghosh is found murdered.

a still from the film GRIHAJUDDHA

Prabir Dutta is a trade union leader in the same company. Mr Ghosh was quite close to Prabir. Before tendering his resignation, Mr Ghosh provided Prabir some vital information about the company. Prabir threatens he would leak these vital information in the next meeting, which would expose the company’s involvement in murdering Mr Ghosh. Prabir Dutta’s right-hand man is Bijon Nandi ( Anjan Dutt ), who loves to play the harmonica. He is also romantically involved with Probir Dutta’s sister ( Mamata Shankar ).

An upright, honest reporter Subimol Ray ( Gautam Ghosh ) enters the scene, who was drafted into this assignment to probe Mr Ghosh’s murder by the newspaper’s editor ( Manoj Mitra as a lecherous character who is shown reading a pornographic magazine STRIPTEASE sitting in his chair during office hours.) Subimol meets Probir Dutta, who claimed he could provide crucial leads in Mr Ghosh’s murder case.

One day when Prabir and Bijon Nandi was returning from their office, they’re attacked by hoodlums and Prabir is murdered. Bijon runs towards Prabir’s house to convey to his parents the sad news. Prabir’s family consisting of his parents, two sisters and a brother also faces the wrath of these hoodlums, who arrives soon after and began breaking everything in the house. Bijon Nandi goes into hiding. Prabir’s family moves to Calcutta. Even here there’s hardly any respite. The police arrives to find out information about Bijon’s hideout. Prabir’s father finds a job. Soon, Prabir’s sister receives an offer from the company of his brother. Being jobless, she joins the company.

Subimol leaves no stone unturned to crack the case. He meets Mr Ghosh’s wife, who provides him with a threat letter issued to Mr Ghosh a few days before his death. Thereafter, he meets Prabir Dutta’s father, who was confused and couldn’t provide much help. Subimol also meets the management head ( Subrata Sen Sharma ) of the controversy ridden company, who claims there ain’t any corruption in the upper management level. Subimol also meets Prabir’s sister in this company, and gradually a good friendship builds up between them. Subimol’s earnest attempts to uncover the real facts impresses Prabir’s sister.

Years pass by. Bijon Nandi returns to Calcutta a very changed person. His ideals of yesteryears have vapourised. Now he hankers for materialistic gains. He has set up a flourishing business somewhere in Nasik. But his love for Prabir’s sister remained unchanged. Both plans to get married. Meanwhile, Prabir Dutta’s younger brother provides a vital clue. He could recognise Sital Das ( Sunil Mukherjee ), a goalkeeper of a football club, as one of the hoodlums who attacked their house just after Prabir’s death. Subimol meets Sital Das as an interviewer. While doing so, he tricks him into writing in his own handwriting in a paper. Sital Das’s handwriting matches the handwriting on the threat paper issued to Mr Ghosh. Sital Das is checkmated. He becomes panicky, and threatens Subimol. Everything builds up to a gripping and chilling climax.

GRIHAJUDDHA is a rivetting film from Buddhadeb Dasgupta, whose Bagh Bahadur, Charachar, Lal Darja and Uttara has won International acclaim.

Rating: 4.2 out of 5