Archive for the ‘Two Hundred Indian films’ Category

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

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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

Bengali cinema surprises us with gems once in a while. PHORING is one such film.

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PHORING (which is Bengali for Grasshopper) is an imaginative boy who lives in a village in North Bengal near Maynaguri. He flunks his exams and incurs the wrath of his alcoholic father who beats him mercilessly.

A pretty young female teacher (Sohini Sarkar) joins the school of the boy, and starts taking an interest in the boy and his studies. The bond between the boy and the teacher grows stronger. She calls the boy to her residence, celebrates his birthday and gifts him a smart-phone. This leads to suspicion and questioning of her code of conduct.

The present situation of unrest in North Bengal have been effectively captured on screen. The film touches issues of education, childhood obsession, involvement of promising youths in terrorism, and ruthless parenting.

The filming qualities are superlative, and the natural beauty of North Bengal have been lovingly captured by the cameraman Indranil Mukherjee. The film is directed by Indranil RoyChoudhury. The supporting actors are Ritwik Chakraborty and others.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Recently the versatile actress Geeta Sen passed away. Besides acting in the films of her husband Mrinal Sen, she has also acted in Ghatak’s NAGARIK and Shyam Benegal’s AROHAN. Kolkata DD showed her film CHALCHITRO recently as a mark of respect.

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The Mrinal Sen directed CHALCHITRO (Kaleidoscope, 1981) is a film that has not been screened in India previously as far as I know. It is a film that only a Mrinal Sen would have the courage to make. There is hardly any story so to speak, no attractive heroine features in it to make it pleasing to a viewer. But Mrinal Sen being Mrinal Sen, he has the rare ability to make the mundane the stuff of great cinematic material. Like Jean Luc Godard, MS captures life in everyday Kolkata with its vicissitudes, idiosyncrasies, humaneness and pettiness under the pretext of a storyline – the hunt of a print journalist (Anjan Dutt) for a story/scoop that is saleable. The editor of the newspaper (Utpal Dutt) likens modern life to a stock market – every aspect of it involve a kind of buying and selling.

“How many ovens are there in Kolkata?” The director also highlights environmental concern with rapid urbanization and use of unclean energy used for cooking during the late seventies. Gita Sen acts as the mother of the protagonist struggling to make ends meet for the family. The lives of several independent families all living under a common roof quibbling and sharing joys and miseries have been depicted aptly.

The film was screened at London and Venice Film festivals. Watching CHALCHITRO recently one felt sad for the demise of THE ACTRESS who brilliantly brought to life the quotidian characters in the films of Mrinal Sen, be it in CHORUS, EK DIN PRATIDIN or KHANDAHAR.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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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

 

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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

 

NH10

Posted: January 27, 2016 in Deepti Naval, Hindi films, Two Hundred Indian films

NH10 is one of those gritty films that is a rarity in Bollywood. Possibly inspired by the 2008 thriller EDEN LAKE the film is riveting owing to a stunning performance by Anushka Sharma. This is not for the faint-hearted though.

The film exposes the lawlessness and the nexus that exist among local goons, cops and panchayats in the badlands of the National Capital region. In the wake of several recent incidents (like the Mumbai youth Keenan (24) and Reuben (29) who were stabbed following a scuffle near a paan shop in suburban Andheri on October 20, 2011 while trying to protect their female friends from a group of eve-teasers) the film acquires significance for highlighting our duties as citizens when we are confronted with crimes happening before us. It also touches upon the issue of Honor killing something that is prevalent in our society and hit headlines now and then.

The supporting cast include Neel Boopalan, Deepti Naval and others.

 

Rating: 3.8 out of 5