Archive for the ‘Two Hundred Bengali Cinema’ Category

Asi Te Asio Na

A neglected octogenarian (Bhanu Bandopadhyay) stumbles upon a miraculous discovery…Fed up with the ill-treatment meted out to him and his wife (Ruma Guha Thakurta) by his children, he longs for an escape from his dreary existence. Accidentally, he even finds a solution to all of his woes. He discovers a pond where on taking a dip one regains his youth. When he transforms into a handsome young man, many were forced to accept the miracle as real. Quite predictably, all hell breaks loose …

From a chemist keen to investigate the composition of the water in the pond, senior officers in the Govt. keen to cash on its benefits, the change in the behavior of the children and their wives towards the man, sundry characters trying to make the most of the situation – everything adds up to make this an absolutely laugh riot.

Bhanu Bandopadhyay and Robi Ghosh deliver sterling performances. The supporting cast which includes Ruma Guha Thakurta, Kamal Mitra, Renuka, Asit Baran, Tarun Kumar, Shyam Laha and others perform creditably.

Does Bhanu forever remain young? Could such a miracle really have taken place? Watch the film to know the answers …one of the most hilarious Bengali films ever IMHO.

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On Ray’s b’day, a brief note on JOYBABA FELUNATH ……

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I read some Feluda stories in my childhood. Since then I haven’t ventured towards the book of the ace sleuth written by Ray that have endeared him to millions across the globe. I have seen several films of the detective though, two directed by Satyajit Ray himself, and quite a few directed by his son Sandip Ray.

Among the multiplicity of themes that Ray explored in his films and in his writings, one often finds a thematic recurrence interspersed among his works. The core theme in JOYBABA FELUNATH – about a thriving business involving smuggling of heritage art objects from India to the West was also seen in his book KAILASHE KELENKARI, which has been made into a film by Sandip Ray. The penchant of Ray to showcase rare skills such as jugglery (Phatikchand) is again seen in this film in the spine-chilling act of a skilled marksman aiming at humans – it was filmed on ‘Jatayu.’

JOYBABA ..  is an engaging, suspenseful film from the master filmmaker. The film has the Hindu holy city of Benaras as the backdrop. Apart from a fine performance by Soumitro Chatterjee in the role of Feluda, the film was elevated several notches by the terrific performance of Utpal Dutta as Maganlal Meghraj – rarely has Utpal Dutta looked so menacing as a villain, his act in Bollywood films playing the evil man was mostly comical. The pivotal child character in the film, endearing called Captain Spark, brought out the child that used to reside in Ray who was enchanted by magic, mysterious occurrences & other aspects of the supernatural, besides his love of adventure.

Rating; 4 out of 5

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

 

NAYAK1

The year 1965-66 is an interesting phase for Bengali cinema in terms of experimentation with the medium. Mrinal Sen’s AKASH KUSUM (1965), Tapan Sinha’s GALPO HALEO SATTI (1966) and Satyajit Ray’s NAYAK (1966) showcases the penchant of these titans to incorporate new devices into the narrative. In this Ray work, one sees use of surrealism in abundant measure – the scene of the actor (Uttam Kumar) drowning in a pile of money or the sequence of the seductive actress (Anjana Bhowmick) haunting the actor among others …

NAYAK

There is also a commonality of NAYAK with the much later film PRAKTAN (2016), exactly fifty years after the first was made, in that both these films are based entirely on a rail travel.

The film narrates the compromises an actor has to make to scale heights of popularity and the regimentation binding him to keep it going. Just see the sequence where the actor’s friend (Premansu Bose) takes him to address a group of agitating workers in his company to provide a morale booster and the actor doesn’t accede to the request of his good friend.

The aspect of the mega-star with a feet of clay also found echo in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s GUDDI (1971)..

Rating: 3.9 out of 5

 

 

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MAHANAGAR was based on a story by Narendranath Mitra. The core theme of the disquiet caused when a Bengali homely lady Arati Mazumdar (Madhabi Mukherjee) steps out of her secluded domestic existence into the working world have been deftly portrayed by the director. I think Mrinal Sen’s PUNASCHO in the Sixties also dealt with the same theme but as per latest reports available that film is completely lost to filmgoers as no print of that film exists today.
Some of the sequences in the film are truly memorable:
The scene where Madhabi presses her first earning against herself and proceeds to watch her in an adjacent mirror
• The Anglo woman gifts Madhabi a lipstick and shows her how to apply it
• “Was he your boyfriend”? asks her Anglo colleague Madhabi points to Vermillion on her forehead
“Okay. Your husband.”
“Do you know this ring?” her Anglo friend queried “This means that I am married.” ( A beautiful scene on manifestation of marital status in two cultures)
The effect of the lady walking out of the orthodox household into the professional world on the husband (Anil Chatterjee) and the family can be summarized in the following dialogues/scenes that transpired in the film
“Kaaje amay chinte parbe na” (Madhabi) “Barite Chinte parbo to” (Anil Chatterjee)
• “Bouma, Sales girl?” (Anil Chatterjee’s father)
• “Taka thaklai Sansar a shanti thake na Baba aaj 3/2 maas amar sathe katha bole na.” (Anil Chaterjee talks of his equation with his father)
• The first day Madhabi goes to work, her child runs away from her as a protest

The weakness of the film: The forced situations where husband loses his job and is dependent on Madhabi’s job. The ending also appeared filmic to me. I, for one, can’t throw away job because of injustice being meted out to a colleague. You would agree that Arati’s of the world wouldn’t be able to keep any job in present day corruption ridden India.
The most interesting character to me was the patriarch – the father of Anil Chatterjee who represented the plight of retired teachers in the country
“jemon gorbo bodh kori, temon hingse hoi” (talking about his students)
• “Bhagwan er bidhan e kothai jeno gondogol royeche” (complaining about God’s injustice towards his ilk)
• “Amar bhoro obhab” (The old man cries and tells his eye specialist student ) “Chasma ta hobe amar Gurudakhina” (The student replies thusly)
• “sei jug aar ei jug ek noye” (Anil Chatterjee to his father)

There’re other sequences that characterize social milieu of that era
• Madhabi goes to sell knitting machines and start a conversation with prospective customers discussing personal problems – the ability of Bongs to start conversation with complete strangers
“Ei sob parar thakar anondo je nijeder radio kinte hoy na” (Anil Chaterjee tells his wife)
The supporting cast included Jaya Bhaduri, Haradhan Bannerjee and others.
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.

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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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In some respects PARESH by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay bears a resemblance to his story NISHKRITI. In both these stories, the elder brother a good Samaritan looks after the family business. Enters the second/middle brother — a greedy fellow wanting a division of the family property and cornering the lion’s share of it.

The titular protagonist Paresh (played by Nirmal Kumar) has grown up in the village under the tutelage of his uncle (elder brother of his father played by Pahari Sanyal). It is apparent that Paresh respects his uncle even more than his parents who try their best to steal their son from someone he really adores. The patriarch (Pahari Sanyal) has more faith in his nephew Paresh than on his own son Bimal (played by Premansu Bose). Bimal is greedy and falls into bad company. This has a ruinous effect on the family.

Misunderstanding surfaces in the relation between Paresh with his jhetu (Pahari Sanyal). To know the full story, watch this immensely moving film with brilliant performances by Pahari  Sanyal and Nirmal Kumar and ably supported by Manju Dey, Molina Devi, Sova Sen, Tulsi Chakraborty, Sabitri Chatterjee, Kamal Mitra and others.

The film was directed by Ajay Kar with music by Anupam Ghatak.

Rating: 4 out of 5