May 21, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): The 58th National Awards announced yesterday afternoon brought in the wonderful tidings that two films recently acquired by Databazaar Media Ventures namely, Ami Aadu and Memories in March have won the National Award for the Best Feature Film in Bengali and English respectively. The Eastern region has been overshadowed by films from the South and West this year but even within this limited picking, these two films have proved their point.
“We are thrilled,” says Pinaki Chakraborty, executive producer of the film that also marks the revival of New Theatres Private Limited after along hiatus. “Our film also bagged the best Feature Film Award in SAARC International Film Festival, 2010 and we are planning a big celebration soon for the cast and crew,” he adds ecstatically. The citation that comes with the Award states that the award is “For the subtle portrayal of an endearing love story in the time of cultural conflicts. It is a sincere attempt to present the personal tragedy of the emigrant commoner caught in the crossfire of international wars.
‘Memories in March’, ‘Ami Adu’ are available for online watch at Roku.
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[ReviewAZON asin=”B004SH2G3U” display=”inlinepost”]The outstanding feature is that it is the first film of a new director, Somnath Gupta who honed his skills on television. It also marks the debut of its leading lady Debolina Chatterjee who plays the title role of Aadu in the film. Her performance is i mind-blowing in its subtlety slightly undercut by the dubbed voice. When Gupta was asked why he needed to dub Debolina’s voice, he said, “She is based in Mumbai and though she can speak Bengali quite well, she has a stressed Anglicised accent which would not have worked in my film where the Bengali spoken carries the accent of Murshidabad villages. But in other respects, she performed very well and I am happy with her performance. We took on Koushani Roy, a television actress, to dub her lines. But it has come off smoothly,he sums up.
The only thing common between Ami Aadu and Memories in March is that both films mark the debut of their respective directors. Sanjoy Nag is ecstatic about having won the National Award for his very first directorial film. “Film is my desire to express myself in the language I am most comfortable in. And trying to master and experiment with that language is what I call film making,” he says. The citation says that the award is “for the effective exploration of a bereaved mother’s coming to terms with the fact of her son’s sexual identity.” The phraseology is somewhat misguiding. It is not about the man’s sexual identity but about his sexual orientation. There is a major difference between identity and orientation.
Sanjoy Nag has used a straightforward narrative line that is more audience-friendly than a structure that keeps moving back and forth in time and place sucking the viewer into a world of confusion. The answering machine filled with the staccato responses of Sidhharth’s father keep on conversing into an empty apartment, suggesting the lifeless nature of a relationship based on blood ties. For a rather bleak year for cinema from West Bengal at the 58th National Awards, Ami Aadu and Memories in March deserve applause.
-Shoma A. Chatterji