Archive for the ‘Regional’ Category


The 1988 Malayalam film PIRAVI marks a high point reached in Indian Cinema. The film has fetched the highest number of prestigious International awards than any other Indian film. Rarely has pathos been so memorably etched on screen with such visual finesse and sparse dialogue. The longing of a father awaiting the return of his sole late born son on the occasion of marriage of the sister is conveyed initially through the trips the old man makes to the bus terminus, waiting till the last bus arrival, and subsequent return to his home only to return the very next morning to the same place. When he reads in the papers that his son has been held by the police for political activism, he visits the city for his release. Premji, a theatre actor, in the role of the father is outstanding. The lyrical beauty of the countryside has been filmed exquisitely capturing the monsoon and other details with poetic brilliance. Besides the element of human drama which pervades the mood of the film, the muted political commentary resonates to a crescendo. I found some traces of influence of the Mrinal Sen directed EK DIN PRATIDIN (1980) on this film in the character of the son who is missing throughout the film, yet is pivotal to the narrative, like the working girl of EK DIN PRATIDIN.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Ma Bhoomi

Posted: March 24, 2018 in Gautam Ghose, Regional



DEVARU KADU is a film written and directed by Pratibha Ram Reddy. It is a heart-rending tale of a family’s battle for survival. Upon losing his father, the protagonist Deva and his mother leave their native place in the forest & go to the city in search of livelihood. While the mother works in other people’s houses, the young boy added to the kitty by doing odd jobs as a rag-picker. Finally when he grows up, he takes a loan and purchases a rickshaw and lugs it to make his living.

In the meanwhile, health of his mother deteriorates and she longs to go back to her native place. Deva attempts to carry out her final wish, but she die during the return journey. Deva buries her ‘ashes’ besides that of his father’s grave. Hereafter, Deva starts growing trees in the surrounding areas (as per the wishes of his parents & manage to convert the barren land which his family had to abandon to seek greener pastures in the city) and within forty years, a forest emerges out of his extraordinary efforts.

Quite a powerful film, this.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Yesterday I was watching a Kannada film titled HOOMALE. It was basically a tale of love between an infatuated young man and a widow set in the backdrop of Assam. Having grown up in the North East, I have a fair knowledge of the region. Watching this particular film left me quite shaken …

I felt the film directed by one S. Chandrasekhar projected Assam in the most callous way. A particular sequence has the protagonist celebrating Karnataka Day in Guwahati. During the celebration, a toast was being raised with the vow that “Karnataka should not be allowed to go the Assam and Jammu & Kashmir way.” The horrifying situation that was shown in the film is mostly an exaggeration that can be felt by anyone familiar with the region.

Filmmakers ought to be sensitive when they make films incorporating developments and cultures of different states of the country. This would unquestionably lead to a much needed National integration in the truest sense. If interested, you may catch this movie today @ 2pm in Lok Sabha TV.

I was surprised that the film was given National award for Integration. OMG!!!

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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


Frankly speaking, in spite of having spent half a century in India, I have never heard about a community speaking the language TULU. It was a pleasant surprise to catch a wonderful film made in this language recently, a language spoken in South India.

The film traces the life of a traditional performing artist of the community speaking Tulu. He is an elderly person, a boozer who is carrying the mantle of being a Kola dancer – an inheritance bequeathed on him by his forefathers who were Kola dancers for generation. His son, who often went without food because his father spent his little earnings (for about five months in a year) on drinking, resolved to break out of the family profession. Working hard at studies, he manages a reasonably good paying job as a teacher.

However, fate deals a cruel blow to his aspiration  as his father falls from a tree and fractures his leg. He is advised not to perform Kola dance ever again. The village elders and his father now implore the son to give up teaching and carry on the family tradition of being a Kola dancer. After initial resistance, the son  agrees to the proposal of his father…

Gagaras (bells) are ornaments tied to the legs of Bhoota Kola performers. Bhoota Kola are performed usually between October and May in this region. Directed by Shiv Dhwaj, the film won National Award in 2008 for best regional film. Its duration is one hour and 50 minutes.

This is a thought provoking film and offers insight into the lives of hardship of performing artists, the struggles of their progeny caught between keeping the family tradition alive and the demands of education in a modern society .  I found some echoes of Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s BAGH BAHADUR and the Konkani film DIGANT in this work.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

561129-gkff-2015-naayi-neralu-film(1)In some respects, Girish Kasarvalli’s NAYI NIRALU (In the Shadow of the Dog) is similar to Satyajit Ray’s APUR SANSAR. The final sequence where the heroine Venku holds her little child that she must raise and provide for bears similarity to Apu holding his son aloft signifying that lives must go on inspite of personal tragedies that transpired in their lives. In APUR SANSAR Apu loses his wife, in NAYI NERALU the protagonist Venku lost her husband who had drowned around two decades back. Since then she had been living with her in-laws …

Kasarvalli’s film focuses on reincarnation, conventional beliefs and question several social traditions. The rural backdrop of the film is quite spectacular in parts and add to its charm. In this film, I noticed that a widowed lady wears red saree (specific to South Indian tradition?) whereas we’re used to seeing widows in ‘whites.’

The film narrates the tale of a young man Vishwa who proclaims that he was the reincarnated son of a respected person of a certain village in the neighborhood in his earlier birth. When Vishwa comes to the house of the Father of his declaration complexities arise and orthodox beliefs bug at every step. Watch this fine film by the renowned filmmaker of MANE.

Rating: 4 out of 5



2013 Kannada film Bharath Stores poster.jpg

BHARAT STORES (Kannada) highlights a topical theme – the small time trader’s hardship to keep afloat in this age of liberalised economy, multinational and ‘mall cultures.’ With the exception of Jahnu Barua’s HKGOROLOI BOHU DOOR (Assamese) & DIGANT (Konkani) there have been very few films that speak about the threat faced by conventional professions in the wake of urbanization and modernization. The film weaves in sub-text of a NRI couple – the woman making an all out effort to keep her promise to her dying father to repay the debt he owed to the protagonist trader – the struggle of the family of the protagonist in the face of declining business & physical ailment. The moving drama is directed by P. Seshadiri

Rating: 4 out of 5


Oka Orie Katha (1977)

Posted: April 19, 2016 in Mrinal Sen, Regional

(Taken from the following site:

Oka Oori Katha (The Marginal Ones) (Mrinal Sen, 1977)

Loosely based on Indian writer Premchandra’s “Kafan”, eminent Indian filmmaker Mrinal Sen presents Oka Oori Katha. The story opens in a small village in Andhra Pradesh, a state of India. The story initially revolves around two male characters, a father (Venkayya) and a son (Kista), who are landless and vagrants.Venkayya has a strange philosophy about life: not to indulge in any type of work. He and his forefathers are being subjected to much exploitation by the landlord-class, which has forced him to conclude that life is an unending cycle of exploitation and he will be better off by not working anymore for anybody and that way he will not contribute further to the prosperity of the landlord-class. Kista indisputably adopts his father’s principle and pursues vagrancy. For survival they steal and occasionally participate in manually demanding part-time labor the earnings from which are usually spent by the duo over binge drinking. Sen constructs the character of Venkayya to make him look like an iconoclast who defies all social norms, although, Venkayya is not a rebel in the traditional sense. He snivels before the landlord for a free meal and makes caustic comments about the landlord only when he is drunk. In essence, Venkayya’s anger manifests in a total rejection of the system and has reduced him to a beast. However, his idea of self-respect seems to be at odds with his moral preferences. Midway in the film and Kista decides to marry Nilamma, a local girl, against his father’s repeted warnings. Venkayya advises that marriage would require Kista to work, which would in turn undermine the long-standing principle of Venkayya. Nilamma is soon impregnated by Kista, and despite the demands of the situation, the duo does nothing but lives off the woman. Hard labor, deprivation, and lack of nutrition finally bring Nilamma down, and with no treatment around, she inches her way to death. Despite Nilamma’s indescribable sufferings throughout the night, the duo is unmoved and sleeps in the courtyard, and doesn’t bother about the occasional screams of the woman. The next morning, they find her dead. Although they have spent nothing on her during her lifetime, they decide to offer her a fitting funeral for which they set out to beg and the upper-class people contribute. Sen brings Venkayya under a tree in the final scene, who clutches the money in his hands and goes on demanding food, clothes, house, and finally Nilamma’s life. The camera in the final shot zooms in on Nilamma’s face that bursts into flames – a representation of Venkayya’s anger. The anger of the oppressed directed towards the oppressors. Aficionados of Sen’s films will be least surprised by the subject matter of Oka Oori Katha. Lending cinematic voices to the oppressed is one of the prime features of many of Sen’s films. The first forty minutes of the film is a hard slog though as Sen’s attempts to establish the two central male characters and their surroundings seem unfocused at times, which could have been handled with strict editing. However, after the introduction of Nilamma, the film gained required momentum in the department of drama and conflicts among the characters became acute. The film analyzes nature of the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed from two standpoints: the landowner and the landless, and man and woman. Landowners perpetually turn their backs to marginal farmers/laborers, deprive them of their just and fair shares, and eventually push them towards starvation and death. However, they are atypically generous and dutiful to the people from the same class when it comes to donating money for the last religious rites. Similar relationship-parallels hold between Venkayya and Nilamma. Nilamma, when alive, was ignored and taken advantage of, was denied her rights in the household, and ultimately was pushed to death by Venkayya. Is this because she was a woman or does this outcome obtain due to Venkayya’s firm belief in his philosophy about the duty of the working class in an atmosphere replete with inequality and deprivation? Can strange principles of Venkayya be so strong so as to overcome his compassion for family members? If so, then doesn’t he indirectly lose to the landlord-class by sacrificing a human life?  The film doesn’t attempt to disentangle these aspects, which is rather unfortunate. Despite these shortcoming, Oka Oori Katha is one of Sen’s acclaimed works that deserves multiple viewings.

The film won a Special Prize of the Jury at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 1977.