Archive for the ‘Rabindranath Tagore’ Category

Image result for podokkhep bengali movie

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

 

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.

stree

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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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

Taken from Amartya Sen’s THE ARGUMENTATIVE INDIAN (Page 108-109)

Tagore’s criticism of patriotism is a persistent theme in his writings. As early as 1908, he puts his position succinctly in a letter replying to the criticism of Abala Bose, wife of the great Indian scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose: ‘Patriotism can’t be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.’ His novel GHARE BAIRE (The Home and the World) has much to say about this theme. In the novel Nikhil, who is keen on social reform, including women’s liberation, but cool towards nationalism, gradually loses the esteem of his spirited wife, Bimala, because of his failure to be enthusiastic about anti-British agitation, which he sees as a lack of patriotic commitment. Bimala becomes fascinated with Nikhil’s nationalist friend Sandip, who speaks brilliantly and acts with patriotic militancy, and she falls in love with him. Nikhil refuses to change his views: ‘I am willing to serve my country; but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a God is to bring a curse upon it.’

As the story unfolds, Sandip becomes angry with some of his countrymen for their failure to join the struggle as readily as he thinks they should (‘Some Mohammedan traders are still obdurate’) . He arranges to deal with the recalcitrants by burning their meager trading stocks  and physically attacking them. Bimala has to acknowledge the connection between Sandip’s rousing nationalistic sentiments and his sectarian – and ultimately violent – actions. The dramatic events that follow (Nikhil’s attempts to help the victim, risking his life) include the end of Bimala’s political romance.

This is a difficult subject, and Satyajit Ray’s beautiful film of The Home and the World brilliantly brings out the novel’s tensions, along with the human affections and disaffections of the story. Not surprisingly, the story has had many detractors, not just among dedicated nationalist in India. George Lukacs found Tagore’s novel to be ‘a petit bourgeois yarn of the shoddiest kind’, ‘at the intellectual service of the British police’, and ‘a contemptible caricature of Gandhi.’ It would, of course, be absurd to think of Sandip as Gandhi, but the novel gives a ‘strong and gentle’  warning, as Bertolt Brecht noted in his diary, of the corruptibility of nationalism, since it is not even-handed. Hatred of one group can lead to hatred of others, no matter how far such feeling may be from the minds of humane nationalist leaders like Mahatma Gandhi.

atithi

Tapan Sinha’s ATITHI bears a striking resemblance to Jatrik-directed PALATAK.  In both the films the protagonist is a wanderer intermittently escaping the bindings of family life and setting off to discover new people and places. The only difference is that the protagonist Tara in ATITHI is a small boy (played by actor Partha)  whereas in PALATAK it was a grown up man (Anoop Kumar).

Watching a film six decades after it was made in poor print quality reinforces the need to restore such classic films for posterity. ATITHI has a few lilting flute tunes of Tagore composition.

ATITHI takes us back to a world where a sense of the wonder lurked in the child about the unknown. They found joy and happiness in the simple charms that life offered – taking a dip in the village pond or gaping at the antics of the performer of a circus or Jatra (a kind of theatre in Bengal). This is one of the biggest losses mankind has suffered in the wake of the onslaught of 24×7 TV Channels and the Internet. That child in us with curiosity about the most mundane of things is now truly dead.

Ajitesh Bandopadhyay and Smriti Sinha act in supporting roles.

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

Streer Patra (1973)

 

Streer Patro would translate as The Wife’s Letter. The story was written by Rabindranath Tagore, and the film was directed by Purnendu Pattrea (PP).

The epistle that the title refers to is the letter the wife (Madhabi Mukherjee) sends to her husband from Puri where she went on a visit with one of the relatives. In it, the injustices meted out to a female protagonist, a young girl Bindu who stayed with her and forcibly married off to an older mad man (Nimu Bhowmick) was mentioned, and she revealed that she would never return to family life as a protest.

The film was set sometime around 1910 and the sub-text has the Indian freedom struggle in the background. Madhabi delivers a stunning performance. PP uses stills and innovate camera techniques and fantasy elements reminiscent of the films of Mrinal Sen.

Rating: 4 out of 5