Archive for the ‘Women in cinema’ Category

On a repeat viewing of MAHANAGAR, I felt that the strong message that Ray wanted to convey through the character of the protagonist Arati Mazumdar (  Madhabi Mukherjee) – her resignation from the job (as a protest against injustice towards a colleague) that was the sole bread winner for the large family is completely lost in our society. All of us who are salaried and work for a living are witness to gross injustices in our workplaces. Do we ever think about the need to leave the present employment and search for the ‘job where things are fair’? We all know that such jobs doesn’t exist in our country and we tend to compromise to adapt to prevailing norms and trends…even Ray was aware of the changing times as his last works – GANASHATRU & SHAKHA PROSAKHA spoke a great deal about decay and vice …

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saajh

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

 

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The inspiration behind the film ABHIMAN could have been any of the following (i) The singer-actor duo Kishore Kumar & Ruma Guha Thakurta and their lives

(ii) The actors Amitabh Bachchan & Jaya Bhaduri (many opined that Jaya was a superior actor than Amitabh in those days) and their lives

(iii) The Hollywood film A STAR IS BORN

Whatever may have been the inspiration, this is a beautiful film laden with wonderful songs unfolding a tale of a singer couple (Amitabh & Jaya) , their quick romance and marriage and thereafter making music together. When the wife starts getting more recognition, male ego gets hurt and husband starts sulking endlessly taking recourse to booze and ex-flame (Bindu). Kudos to Hrishikesh Mukherjee for offering the role to Bindu as a sensitive friend, as it shows her in a different light  and a far cry from her usual vampish roles. The directorial style is muted; to convey the deep agony of Usha (Jaya) upon losing her son at childbirth, the director uses a long shot, and the distance between Usha and her father (A. K. Hangal) in the same frame highlights the gulf that exists between them (signifying the loneliness of Usha) , even though Usha respected and cared for her father immensely.

The acting is first-rate; Jaya and Amitabh are outstanding. David, Asrani, Durga Khote and A.K.Hangal are also memorable in the portrayal of their respective characters. The unspoiled village with its purity and keeper of the classical music tradition alive is contrasted with a materialistic music driven industry in its urban setting.

Rating : 4.1 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

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

Queen of Hearts….

Posted: September 15, 2016 in Hindi films, Wifey, Women in cinema

(written by my wife Rajlakshmi Ghosh)

They are a SMART and RAVISHING lot. And everyone—from eight to eighty—can’t stop RAVING about their beauty and poise. DELVE deeper, and you find they are beauties with a MIND of their own. It is not easy being Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma or even Sonakshi Sinha in B-town: the spotlight is constantly ZOOMING in on their lives. A lot of hard work and grooming go into being an actress that counts and all of these damsels have taken Bollywood by storm.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…..

Deepa lays her BETS on Anushka when she says that the actress “has a good personality and great acting skills”. Quiz her further and she adds, Anushka is close to achieving the same stature as Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra. “She did such a good job in ‘Band Baja Baraat’ and I am also looking forward to her latest flick ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’,” says Deepa with stars in her eyes. Move on to Avinash Kaur, a BTech student, and she has the same words of praise for this former model and Yash Raj Films favourite: “Anushka is a good actress and a consistent performer. I liked her in ‘Band Baja Baraat’—where she looked so pretty as a Punjabi girl–and ‘Badmash Company’.”

But then, Deepika too has a fair share of loyalists. Shivam, a XIIth standard student, only BOTHERS himself with Deepika’s films. “I haven’t seen the movies of the rest of the lot. But Deepika looked stunning in ‘Karthik Calling Karthik’, ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Love Aaj kal’.” Pooja, a student of Ryan International, is quite FASCINATED by Deepika’s “height and dusky colour—I just love it”, she says. The rest, she feels, “are dumb. Sonakshi is fat. Perhaps, Anushka comes a close second to Deepika.” Her best words are for Deepika in films like ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’.

But Gajinder Singh, a B.Sc student, believes there is none to MATCH Sonakshi. “She is a great actress and has all the skills to make it to the top. I liked her especially in ‘Dabangg’ and can’t forget her role.”

For sure, these actresses have the ‘it’ factor. In the make-believe world, they are well and truly the Queen of Hearts. And given their huge fan following, little wonder these divas have given many a box office hit!

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Bollywood Beauties….

Deepika Padukone: The daughter of badminton ace Prakash Padukone, has had a string of successful films under her belt. Be it her debut Bollywood film ‘Om Shant Om’ or ‘Love Aaj kal’ with Saif Ali Khan, Deepika has made her mark as much for her looks and height as for her acting skills, poise and charm.

Anushka Sharma: She is the girl to watch out for, after Kareena and Katrina. The ‘Band Baja Barat’ girl had a dream debut with Sharukh Khan no less in ‘Rab Ne Bana de Jodi’. Since then, she has moved from strength to strength with a hit like ‘Band Baja Baraat’ as her crowning glory. Now that ‘Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl’ has hit the theatres, Anushka, it seems, is truly on a roll.

Sonakshi Sinha: Ever since she came into the spotlight with Salman Khan’s ‘Dabangg’, there was no looking back for this vivacious actress. Shotgun Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter shows great promise and what with her filmi background, is bound to make it big.

Sonam Kapoor: Another star kid, the daughter of Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, first made heads turn with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Saawariya’.  Since then, this fashionista’s career has been mostly on the upswing. With ‘Delhi-6, ‘I Hate Luv Storys’ and ‘Aisha’, her foothold in filmtown seems firm.

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12-06-2011

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‘Mrs. SEN’ is a complex tale about infidelity and familial relationship. A woman Anuradha (Rituparna Sengupta) discovers her husband (Rohit Roy) was cheating on her and has a second wife Sohini (Harshita Bhatt) and an eight year old boy after he meets with a fatal accident. Gradually a bond develops between the two wives of the deceased. In the meanwhile, the boy befriends Anuradha,  and the wheel chair bound Sohini too becomes seriously ill and passes away…

The film highlights the vagaries of our existence when one finds out the unpleasant truth about a loved one, or when elderly parents have to bear the loss of their child, or when someone is burdened with the responsibility of bringing up a child resulting from the covert operation of their better half.

As usual, Rituparna is brilliant in the role of the central protagonist. The film is directed by Agnidev Chatterjee and features Biplab Chaterjee, Anusya Mazumdar, Sankar Chakraborty in convincing supporting roles. The character of Subashish Mukhopadhyay as the autistic brother of Sohini appeared overdone (he could have taken a leaf  out of Dustin Hoffman’s performance in RAINMAN).

Rating; 3.8 out of 5