Archive for the ‘Rituparno Ghosh’ Category

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This morning I watched the Rituparno Ghosh directed film TITLI. This is probably the most romantic and poetic film in the repertoire of late Rituparno Ghosh. A rudimentary analysis of RG reveals his contribution to Bangla cinema in the following – adeptly using actors like Prasenjit and Dipankar Dey (Titli, Unishe April, Abhoman, Utsav) regularly, bringing big Bollywood stars to feature in his works, focusing his lens on women and the art world (Unishe April, Asookh, The Last Lear, Abhoman, Bariwali, Titli & others) and the fine exploration of intricate human relationships that permeates every single work of his.

In TITLI, through a chance encounter, a successful actor meets his ex-flame. Her daughter is obsessed with the star-actor. Though certain situations are forced, yet the beauty of the film can’t be denied and manifest in the manner the work deals with suspicion and pain that takes over when your loved ones keep a secret from you all through your life.

In this film, the mother (Aparna Sen) never revealed to her star-struck daughter (Konkana Sen Sharma) that she knew the object of her affection (Mithun). The love of the daughter for the star dissipates gradually – firstly when he discovered that her mother didn’t reveal to her that she actually knew Rohit the star-actor (Mithun) & finally when she hears of his marriage with a German journalist.

In the final sequence, she is shown hugging her mother ending the film which also makes a passing judgement about the need to lead a conjugal life.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

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Bengali cinema is unlucky to have lost some of its most prodigious talent before they could reach anywhere near the end of their career – Ritwik Ghatak, Rituparna Ghosh, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay, Nabyendu Chaterjee and … Anjan Das. The last named is the director of SANJHBATIR ROOPKATHARA.

This film starts on a predictable note. One was beginning to feel that it was just another ‘exploitation of women’ kind of film about the protagonist daughter Saajhbati (Indrani Halder) of a well-known painter (Soumitro Chattopadhyay). Midway through the movie, the film unfolds an unexpected development and thereafter the film becomes a powerful exploration of the perils of fame, the father-daughter relationship, love and betrayal, lust and insanity, hope and longings, setbacks and comebacks.

The performances are praiseworthy. Indrani Halder in the titular role is convincing. After Pramathesh Barua’s MUKTI in the 1930s, we have the painter as a major character in Bengali films like SWET PATHARER THALA & this one. The supporting cast includes Paran Bandopadhyay, Ketaki Dutta, Firdaus and others.

I discovered that the film was based on a story by eminent poet Joy Goswami which is why the film appears lyrical in several parts…

Rating: 4.1 out of 5

 

Interestingly, late Rituparno Ghosh’s first film HIRER ANGTI (1992) bears a strikingresemblance to Satyajit Ray’s last film AGUNTUK (1991). HIRER ANGTI was based on a story by Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay, while AGUNTUK was based on a story by the director himself.

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In both the films a stranger arrives in the midst of a family causing disquiet turning their lives upside down. There is a booty to be recovered by the stranger who is a widely travelled soul endowed with a flair for the language. While the Ray film expounded on world issues and tribal heritage, RG’s film is intrigue driven complete with dacoits and fake actors.

The question begging to be asked: “Was HIRER ANGTI a tribute to Ray?”… I didn’t catch the segment when the credits rolled and am not sure about HIRER ANGTI actually being an ode to Ray & his AGUNTUK..If it isn’t, as it could be because the writers are different, the similarities are not all that easy to ignore…

The cast included Vasant Choudhury, Jnanesh Mukherjee, Moonmoon Sen, Pradip Mukherjee, Sumanta Mukherjee and others.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5

UNISHE APRIL marked the arrival of Rituparno Ghosh as a major filmmaker. Though it was his second film, it catapulted him into prominence winning quite a few National Awards in its wake. The strong point of UA is its performances – Aparna Sen and Debasree Roy act superbly in this mother-daughter tale of a missing bond between them. The film is inspired by Bergman’s AUTUMN SONATA.

The weakness of the film lies in part on the script – it is a bit strange to hear that when Aditi (Debasree Roy) is in deep love with a Delhi based boy (Prasenjit) and their relationship was on for quite some time yet the fact that Aditi’s mother is a Nationally renowned dancer is unknown to her paramour. The harping on suicide as a release from inner turmoil and the outside storm sequence during the night symbolising the inner turmoil of Aditi appear rather cliched (even Satyajit Ray did this in CHARULATA towards the climax) . The supporting cast includes Dipankar Dey, Boddiswata Mazumdar and others.

The story and screenplay of the film is credited to Rituparno Ghosh.

Rating: 3.9 out of 5

DOSAR (The Companion) directed by Rituparno Ghosh was based on a story by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay. The film was shot in b & w, and the frames are hauntingly beautiful. Like his ABOHOMAN this film too dwells on the premise of illegitimate relationships – this time around of an executive (Prasenjit) who has a dalliance with his secretary Mita (Chandreye Ghosh) during weekend in some hill station. In one of their return trip, they meet with an accident in which Mita dies. The film traces the trauma and inner turmoil of the wife (Konkana Sen Sharma) to come to terms with the fact of a philandering husband who is hospitalised and need to be nursed back to good health.

The film is marred by too many illegitimate relationships making us wonder whether fidelity has become passe nowadays. Others in the cast include Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Pallavi Chaterjee and Sankar Chakraborty.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

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In a sense RAINCOAT is a non feminist film. Even when the ex-lovers discover that both are unhappy the director never hints at an eloping angle. The O.Henry story THE GIFT OF THE MAGI has been nicely Indianised. It showcases the Indian penchant for fibbing and covering up ugly facts even when trapped in a miserable marriage.

The power of this room drama derives from its dialogues and conversations that bring out tellingly feelings of the protagonist. When Manu (Ajay Devgan) says that he was thinking of a new six letter word for his TV serial production company which have been named RAJNI, the female protagonist (Aishwariya Rai) suggests naming it NEERJA after her name – she says that “since in life they couldn’t been partners, they can be partners somewhere else in their lives.”

The tale of a brief interlude after ten years between ex-lovers (where feelings have not ebbed completely) when the boy travels from his native place Bhagalpur to Kolkata for work also brings out the restraint acting capabilities of Bollywood stars like Ajay Devgan and Aishwariya Rai.

Rating: 3.8 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.

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Director Rituparno Ghosh’s NAUKADUBI is inspired from a story by Rabindranath Tagore. There has been an earlier film version of this story made by Ajay Kar in the 70s (or 80s) featuring Soumitro Chaterjee, Sumitra Mukherjee, Uttam Kumar and others. This version by RG features Jishu Sengupta, Raima Sen, Riya Sen, Prosenjit, Dhritiman Chaterjee, Laboni Sarkar and others.
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The film convincingly evokes the Tagorean era and its mood and is a visual delight. Essential a tale of love between Ramesh (Jishu), a doctor and Hem (Raima Sen), an aristocratic girl, the film weaves in sub-text of Ramesh marrying Sushila against his wishes (Reema Sen) on the insistence of his father (Sumanto Mukhopadhyay). One couldn’t follow a few happenings in the film though. What was contained in that letter “Biggopti” (Notice)? The director left the ending open-ended, possibly a departure from the Tagore novel.
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The novel Nauka-dubi (The Wreck, 1906) translated into English as ‘The Wreck’ and also into several other languages is one of Tagore’s popular works. It is a readable but trivial story of mistaken identities about a boat wreck on the river. Writing in his book “Rabindranath Tagore:an Interpretation” (Penguin India) the writer Sabyasachi Bhattacharya says about Nauka-dubi: “One wonders why Tagore wrote such a story.Perhaps it was written to fill up the pages of the journal he edited.”

Rating: 3.9 out of 5

Recently the Directorate of Film Festival, GOI organized a retrospective of late Rituparno Ghosh at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi from Aug 2-4. About ten of his films were screened as part of the homage. I and my wife managed to catch a couple in this package, which we hadn’t seen earlier.

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The first, THE LAST LEAR (2007) featured Amitabh Bachchan, Priety Zinta, Arjun Rampal, Jishu Sengupta, Prasenjit and others. Made in English, it is about a Shakespearean Theatre actor and his experiences during the making of his first film where he enacts a clown. The film has its flaws and the plot at times falters, but it is Amitabh who carries the film singularly on his shoulders. He is not the archetypal theatre artiste, but he manages to exude the aura of a seasoned Shakespearean actor. His ability to transform himself to a decadent old actor who is caught in a time warp is exemplary. He is clearly the film’s Last Lear and lives up to it. Though Rituparno tried to bring in the feminist angle where men are almost always depraved and women the hapless victims, it fails to cut ice with the audience.         

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The second, BARIWALI (2000) deals with the loneliness of a widowed house owner Banalata (Kiron Kherr) who lives alone in a huge feudal house with her maid and her Man Friday. Their routine existence receives a jolt when a filmmaker (Chiranjeet) comes to shoot a film in that building. This is RG on familiar turf delving beautifully into the mind of the female protagonist. The supporting cast includes Roopa Ganguly and Abhishek Chaterjee.

In my view, RG was a true inheritor of the Satyajit Ray and Tapan Sinha brand of filmmaking, where we usually found fine story-telling with the unfolding of the narrative.

I have seen many of his other films, from his first feature, a children’s film HIRER ANGTI to UNISHE APRIL (inspired by Bergman’s AUTUMN SONATA) to his outstanding DAHAN (I feel this is his best), ASOOKH about the relationship between an actress (Debasree Roy) with her ailing mother and her boyfriend(Shilajit), UTSAV(about relationships in a family which meets during Durga Puja at their ancestral home which is to be sold off), SUBHO MAHURAT (a fine suspense thriller), ANTARMAHAL (a tale of lust and longing within the four walls of a royal family) & RAINCOAT (about a sudden meeting of ex-lovers on a rainy day)…

RG was in a hurry. Did he have some kind of premonition about his death? … He made 19 feature films and a few documentaries in a career spanning just two decades. Quite prolific I would say.

His demise is a big loss for Indian cinema in general, and to Bengali films in particular. We will miss you RG and the mood and moments that you evoked, at times poignant, at times lyrical, but always with a fine attention to the minutest of details…

Dahan is directed by Rituparno Ghosh from his own screenplay. It is based on a  true incident.

The gist: Romita Choudhury (Rituparno Sengupta) is the wife of Palash Choudhury ( Abhishek Chaterji) .These newly-weds meets with a tragic incident. One day, while they were returning late in the evening ( around 9 p.m) they are heckled by a group of five ruffians at Tollygunj Metro Station. After knocking out Palash, these goons tried to rape Romita. A few people who witnessed the incident slipped away cowardly, and none dared to stop the molesters. Jhinuk ( Indrani Halder), a young woman who was just passing by in a autorickshaw on this rainy night when the incident was taking place comes to the rescue of Romita. Only due to Jhinuk’s courage, Romita escaped from being brutally raped. Jhinuk advises Romita to report the matter to the police and lodge an FIR.

The film does echo Tapan Sinha’s ADALAT O EKTI MEY featuring Tanuja, but Rituparno’s film has sufficient originality and finer points to make it a thought-provoking and significant work. The director explores how the two female characters i.e Romita and Jhinuk deal with their surrounding relatives and friends in the aftermath of this incident.

Newspaper coverage of the incident brings fame to Jhinuk and her relationship with her boyfiend takes a new turn in its wake. When the molesters are arrested by the police, it is discovered that the perpetrators of the crime are offspring of powerful men. Does Romita with the help of Jhinuk succeed in bringing the culprits to book? The many supporting characters like Romita’s rich dad ( Subhendu Chaterji ), her in-laws and her husband, Jhinuk’s parents (Pradip Mukherji and Shakuntala Barua) & grandma (Suchitra Mitra),  her fiance and her brother does well with wonderful camoes.

Overall, the director has skilfully handled the myriad characters and managed to churn out an absorbing work. The realistic ending adds to its charm.

Rating: 4.2 out of 5