Archive for the ‘Women in cinema’ Category

Image result for mahanagar movie

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

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

foring

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

Image result for mrs sen full movie

‘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

 

Innovative women roles in Indian films, especially mainstream cinema, are few and far between. Some creative directors, working within the mainstream format, however have given us some meaty characters. Several women-significant films were made in the early days of Indian cinema like “Achchyut Kanya,” which touched the theme of untouchability. Bimal Roy made a few films inspired by the novels of Sarat Chatterjee like “Biraj Bou”, “Devdas” and “Parineeta.” “Biraj Bou” was a film based on a selfless Indian woman, who endured hardship and pain for the sake of her husband. Films like “Ramer Sumoti,” based on a Sarat Chaterjee work, were remarkable and depicted the love and warmth which existed within the extended Indian joint family.

In later days, filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee gave us memorable heroine-oriented films in “Guddi,” “Abhimaan”, “Mili”, “Khubsuroot”, and “Majhli Didi”. “Guddi” and “Khubsuroot” were simple films in which the heroine matures from a chirpy girl into womanhood. “Abhiman,” inspired by “A star is born,” dealt with ego clashes when a woman’s musical talent and fame surpasses that of her husband. “Majhli Didi” was again based on a Sarat Chandra novel, about a woman’s compassion towards an orphaned child. Basu Bhattacharyya’s “Griha Pravesh” was a realistic depiction of the obsession of a married man for a much younger office colleague. Raj Kapoor’s “Prem Rog” was a convincing portrait of the agony of a young widow. A few years back, Basu Chaterji’s “Triyacharittar” was a powerful film on exploitation of women.

Bengali filmmaker Tapan Sinha has created strong female characters in several of his films viz “Jatugriho”, “Adalat O Ekti Mey”, “Apanjan”, “Nirjan Saikate” and others. “Jatugriho” dealt with marital discord, the bone of contention being the infertility of the woman. “Apanjan” was remade in Hindi as “Mere Apne” by Gulzar, and had an elderly woman as the protagonist who finds, in some unemployed street boys, a reason to live when her own relatives forsake her. “Nirjan Saikatey” dealt with the plight of five elderly widows, while “Adalat O ekti Mey” was on a rape victim shunned by everyone. Asit Sen’s “Deep Jele Jai,” remade in Hindi as “Khamoshi” was on a nurse who eventually becomes insane play-acting with a patient.

Strong female roles have also been witnessed in parallel cinema. Here, Mrinal Sen appears to have an edge over others. His “Neel Akaser Neechey” (1959) was a beautiful film about a brother-sister relationship between a Chinese hawker and a Bengali housewife. “Punoscho”(1961) dealt with the question of economic need of the heroine, a theme later tackled by Satyajit Ray in “Mahanagar.” The roles of the female protagonist in Sen’s “Bhuvan Shome”, “Khandahaar,” “Ek Din Pratidin”, “Antareen” and others have been an interesting mix of innovation and fresh characterization. Satyajit Ray’s films have female characters of substance. In “Pather Panchali” the relationship between Durga, an innocent but mischievous girl and her grandmother Chunnibala was beautifully depicted. “Charulata” based on a Tagore’s novel dealt with marital discord with much finesse. “Devi” was on religious bigotry when an elderly man starts thinking of his daughter-in-law as a Goddess after a dream.

Ritwik Ghatak’s “Meghe Dhaka Tara” and “Subarnarekha” are considered path-breaking films about the agony of the Bangladeshi refugees, shown through the eyes of the woman protagonist. Aparna Sen’s “36 Chowringhee Lane” is an unforgettable film exploring the loneliness of an elderly Anglo-Indian lady. Sen’s other efforts “Paroma” and “Sati” questioned the traditional roles of women in Indian society. Her latest award-winning work “Paromitar Ek Din” is also a women-centric film. Nabyendu Chaterji’s “Atmaja” had a power-packed role of a mother caught between the divergent ideologies of her two sons, enacted with conviction by Gauri Ghosh. Nabyendu Chaterji’s latest “Sauda” (Bengali) reveals negative shades of some women characters. In this film made in the 90s, the director, possibly the first in Indian cinema, portrayed how the wife and the daughters of an accident victim, now in the operation theatre of a hospital, craved for his death instead of his recovery, because the family has been promised a huge sum of money by an industrialist (Vasant Choudhury) as compensation, whose car was involved in an accident with the victim. The latest talent on the Kolkata filmmaking scene, Rituparno Ghosh, has women-related subjects as theme in all three of his award-winning films “Unishe April”, “Dahan” and “Asookh” and his latest “Bariwali” (featuring Kiron Kher). The women characters in the films of Gautam Ghose & Buddhadeb Dasgupta are equally intriguing. In Gautam Ghose’s “Antarjali Jatra” a young bride is forcibly married off to a dying Brahmin, while marital disharmony was the subject of films like Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s “Griha Yuddha” and “Lal Darja” and Aparna Sen’s “Yugant”. Sanat Dasgupta’s “Janani” featuring Rupa Ganguly was a poignant Bengali film about a woman who was ostracized and labeled a “witch,” but in the end sacrificed her life for her son.

Ordinary women characters, rising to extraordinary levels, were witnessed in films like Sushant Mishra’s “Aasha” (Oriya), Arinbam Shyam Sharma’s “Imagi Ningtem” (Manipuri) and Sanjeev Hazarika’s “Meemansxa” (Assamese). “Aasha” dealt with a courageous lady journalist hounded by corrupt politicians. “Meemansxa,” dealt with the agony faced by a woman when she moves to court after being molested by a powerful man.

Shyam Benegal in films like “Ankur”, “Sardari Begum” and “Mammo” have given us some unusual female characters. “Mammo” was an elderly lady who went through an ordeal when she comes to visit her relatives in partitioned India from Pakistan. Govind Nihalani in “Rukmavati ki Haveli”, “Dhristi”, “Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa” has given us women characters of myriad hues. “Dhristi” was on marital discord, while “Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa” saw Jaya Bachchan giving a fine performance as a woman trying to cope with the death of her son. Ketan Mehta’s “Mirch Masala” with the powerful actress Smita Patil demonstrated the strength of women, when a group of village women unitedly bring about the fall of a tyrant police officer. Muzaffar Ali’s “Umraao Jaan” gave Rekha one of her finest roles in her career as a ‘kotha ‘ dancer. A disabled dancer overcoming her problems to rise to great heights in her field was the subject of “Nache Mayuri,” with Sudha Chandran playing the lead role. Prakash Jha’s “Mrityudand” witnessed a new face of the educated Indian women, willing to rebel and fight for her rights.

Likewise, Deepa Mehta’s “Fire” brought to the fore hitherto taboo subjects like lesbianism to the Indian screen for the first time. Women characters in Mahesh Bhatt’s “Arth”, “Swayam”, “Kaash” and “Tamanna” were interesting. Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi gave great performances in “Arth” while in “Kaash,” the wife tries to cope with a failed actor husband who turns a derelict and a little son diagnosed with a terminal disease. Likewise Gulzar’s “Andhi”, Mausam” and “Koshish” and Kalpana Lazmi’s “Ek Pal” was noteworthy. “Aandhi,” was on the life of a lady politician and in “Koshish,” Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri gave mind-blowing performances as a hearing impaired couple. Sai Paranjype’s “Saaz” and “Sparsh” deserves a mention. Amol Palekar’s “Dayaara” and “Kairee,” too, are exceptional. “Dayaraa” dealt with the life of a transvestite. “Kairee” is about a little girl and her relationship with her aunt. “Rao Saheb,” “Chakra” “Mother India” and “Dahej” dealt with the theme of subjugated women who were exploited.

Yash Chopra’s portrayal of women have been extraordinary. Be it Nanda in the role of a murderess in “Ittefaq” or that of Rekha and Jaya Bachchan in “Silsila” women in his films have been consciously different from their peers. Recently the film “Astitva” ( featuring Tabu) explored sensitively a women’s role in a marriage when her husband discovers after twenty-five years that his wife had a sexual relationship with a man which resulted in an offspring, and the offspring is actually the same whom he had been considering his own son.

Lately in Assamese cinema several strong women characters was evoked, like in Bhaben Saikia’s “Agnisnaan”, Jahnu Barua’s “Firongoti”, Dr Shantanu Bordoloi’s “Adajya” and others. In “Agnisaan,” the female protagonist (Moloya Goswami) has a relationship with another man when her philandering husband crosses all limits. “Firongoti” was based on the life of a lady school teacher who tries to bring education among poor villagers.

In films from the South, K.S.Sethumadhavan’s “Stri”, Prema Karanth’s “Phaniyamma”, Girish Kasarvalli’s “Kraurya”, Balu Mahendra’s “Moonram Pirai” (remade as Sadma in Hindi) or Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s “Mathilukal” have intriguing female characterization. “Stri” dealt with the wife of a drunken man, who in spite of all her husband’s faults and their apparent differences, could never forsake her husband. It did carry the message “Pati is Parmeswar,” but in a beautiful way. “Phaniyamma” dealt with the agony of a young widow, whereas “Kraurya” dealt with the neglect of the elderly. In “Sadma,” SriDevi gave a fine performance as a girl whose mental condition reverts to that of a five-year-old when she meets with an accident. Because of my ignorance of films from this region, I will have to end this here.

In conclusion, several filmmakers have earnestly tried to portray women in a dignified, realistic, and an intriguing way and have succeeded considerably. Of this genre, filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Mahesh Bhatt, Amol Palekar, Tapan Sinha and Girish Kasaravalli and a few others seems to have given us the best of such women-significant films.

10-Mar-2002