Archive for the ‘Nandita Das’ Category

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PODDOKKEP highlights the loneliness faced by the elderly in our so-called modern society under transition from conservative values to newer liberal ones. The story is credited to the director Suman Ghosh (Nobel Chor, Kadambari) himself.
The film comprises of three acts: Act 1 is named SHASANKHA & MEGHA, Act 2 is TRISHA & Act 3 is titled THE FINALE.
Shasankha (Soumitro Chatterjee) is an elderly man living with his daughter Megha (Nandita Das) who works in a corporate office and an elderly spinster woman (Sabitri Chaterjee) – a relative of theirs. Soumitro has lost his wife around three years back in an accident. The lives of the protagonist delineates the conflict that exist between the new (daughter Nandita) and the old(dad Soumitro) through incidents about the kind of calendar hangings fit for walls of the living room (a rather cutesy scene this) or the Tagore fixation of Bengalis
Nandita: “Why’re Bengalis obsessed with Rabindranath Tagore? When you elevate a human being to the level of God, doesn’t it imply stagnancy of intellectualism?”
Soumitro: “He is timeless, just like Shakespeare”
Through course of interaction between the daughter and the father, we are given hints about the leftist leanings of Soumitro. When the daughter mentions of having watched a good film GOODBYE LENIN on collapse of Communism, the father questioned as to whether his daughter was mocking him.
A couple (Tota Roy Choudhury & June Malliya) has returned from America and is a neighbor of the father-daughter duo. The US returned couple has a 7 year old daughter Trisha. A strong bond develops between Soumitro and Trisha. Megha is in love with a Muslim colleague of hers, looks for opportunity and goes on a two-day visit with her paramour to Bangalore. When Soumitro makes a call to her when she was in bed with the guy, a male voice response informs the father of the relationship.
The film explores a gamut of issues – flight of professionals from the City of Joy to places like America and the Silicon Valley of India, the pangs of separation for the elderly and the challenge to adapt to liberal values in vogue, apprehension of forging alliances across religious divide. The sequence where Soumitro is shown playing with Trisha during a picnic and collapsing is reminiscent of the sequence of Marlon Brando as Don Corleone, succumbing while playing with his grandchild in THE GODFATHER.
The film has quite a few poetic shots capturing the locales of Kolkata and its neighborhood with great finesse.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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BISHWAPRAKASH is a film directed by Sushant Mishra (Meemansha). It follows the life of one Bishwaprakash, a young man aimless in life, earning his livelihood through fish trade and also doubles up as a tour guide in Puri. The film lovingly captures the various aspects of life in the sea town.
We are introduced to one Anjali (Nandita Das) – a spinster who is saddled with an elderly ailing mother (like Jamini in Mrinal Sen’s KHANDAHAR) the father having left for an unknown destination twenty-two years ago. There’s a hint of a relationship of her with our protagonist but that is not taken towards a logical conclusion. Anjali is trying to run a hotel business singularly in the town. She makes attempts to rope in Bishwaprakash as a partner in the business, but he refuses. Her client includes mostly people from commune like ISKCON who come to spend a few days amidst the quietude of Puri. In one such instance, Anjali becomes close to a Bengali lady from ISKCON and together they discuss about many aspects of their existence …
In the meanwhile, the municipal authorities has drawn up a list of buildings to be demolished as a consequence of recent deaths of a few foreign tourists living in one such dilapidated lodging which caved in resulting in the casualties.
The protagonist came from a family of priests and was subjected to ridicule because of his association in the fish trade. He wanted to make a killing by entering the promising fish export market but derision by his family members especially his father saddened him. He longed to escape from the stifling confines of life in Puri. He befriends a white woman June, a tourist who has come on a visit to Puri. He takes them around touristy spots and sparks kindles in his relationship with June. Does June help him escape from his unbearable existence in Puri? Watch to find out.
Rating: 3.6 out of 5

Set around a Muslim community in a small village in West Bengal, Mrinal Sen’s AMAR BHUVAN is a comeback vehicle for the veteran director after a long hiatus. Deeply disturbed by the increasing violence in our society, Mrinal Sen has focused his lens on a theme of love this time around.

The film revolves around a triangle viz Meher(Kaushik Sen), Noor(Saswato Chaterjee) & Sakina(Nandita Das). Noor marries Sakina but soon seperates from her. He leaves for the Gulf and returns with pots of money and a wife after a few years. Meanwhile, Sakina has married Meher and they have three children. Meher somehow manages to eke out a livelihood through farming and other menial jobs. Noor and Meher are cousins, and Noor employs Meher on contract jobs because of his skill and efficiency. Meher also earns some money in the process.

The open shot of Noor moving in his swanky bike around the village highlights the social and economic changes in the lives of the rural folks. The director lovingly unfolds the love that permeates the existence of Meher and Sakina. Mrinal Sen is arguably the only Indian filmmaker who has attempted to capture the love and bonding that exists in the life of the downtrodden and carries it off with such finesse. While a streak of pessimism is generally woven into the narrative in any tale of the underpriviledged this work by Mrinalda is laced with warmth and unusual charm. One particular sequence that captures the transition between darkness and the first rays of daylight in two sequential shots is simply brilliant. Some of the lighter sequences like that of Meher fleeing from a money lender or buying a radio outside his means in order to make Sakina and his children happy contributes much to the charm of the film as a whole. A Rabindrasangeet by Srikanta Acharya has been knitted into the film. The actors perform credibly though Nandita Das looks much too urbane in many sequences.

The film also marks a departure from Mrinalian style of ambiguous ending and does have a complete story. The film also reinforces the belief that cinema can be an effective tool for social analysis. The guiding philosophy behind this work seems to be a Charlie Chaplin quote. A favourite of the director, the tramp had once commented: “In this age of hidden suspicion, I try to speak of human compassion.”

Family relationship and the centrality of children in making happy homes can be discerned from the narrative. The amity in Hindu-Muslim relationship can also be inferred from the sudden appearance of Chatterjee Chacha (Arun Mukhopadhyay) in the feast given by Noor for the villagers towards the concluding portion and the way everyone especially the kids stoop down to touch his feet as a mark of respect.

Controversy and criticism are part and parcel of all the works by Mrinal┬áSen. I was witness to a few snide comments from the audience after the show. I heard some pundit say “Mrinal Sen himself doesn’t know what he’s trying to say.” Whatdidyasay? I would like to ask critics like him “is it obligatory for a filmmaker to tell only stories, a complete story in films and leave nothing for the interpretive faculty of the viewer?.” It is apparent that subtlety doesn’t always resonate with the general audience nowadays increasingly fed on a diet of escapist fare. Fine, but why be so critical with works by directors who doesn’t bother to toe your line, perhaps?.

The film was shot in the West Bengal town Taki. The river Icchamati flows nearby.. .

The film fetched Mrinal Sen the Best Director and Nandita Das the best actress award at the Cairo Film Festival. This film celebrates the charms of the quotidian life.

Rating: 4 out of 5