Archive for the ‘Chabi Biswas’ Category

jal

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

 

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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

 

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.

kabuliwala
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