Archive for the ‘Bengali Film Reviews’ Category

Goynar Baksho (2013)-Bengali Movie User Review

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Aparna Sen’s adaptation of Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s Goynar Baksho starts a comedy spanning three generations but nearing its completion it diverges unnecessarily.

An excellent choice of cast with Mousumi-Saswata-Kankana-Manasi-Paran-Aparajita-Piyush-Kaushik-Shrabanti and the rest putting up a superbly orchestrated presentation, a careful selection of locations with exquisite cinematography (Soumik Halder), detailed art direction (Tanmoy Chakrabarty), an aptly matched make-up and costume design (Sarbani Das), smooth and elegant editing (Rabiranjan Maitra), a background score (music direction by Debojyoti Misra) just perfect to tone the mood throughout, yet the movie falls short of its expectations due to a surprisingly awkward ending. It is not abrupt or immature – since the story is agreeably guided to a well conceived finale but it is certainly not fitting to the plot. The deviations from Shirshendu’s original, though pleasantly enjoyable otherwise, but for the final twenty minutes or so it had not only shot off at a tangent but causes a loss of cohesion with the underlying theme that had been woven carefully till that moment. Infact the rest of the narrative as compared to the final twenty minutes seems but two stories loosely bound by a central element – the precious jewellery box.

A story stretching three generations, it portrays how a crumbling Bengali nobility with an undiminished sense of false pride, tottering on the verge of complete ruin, is saved by the wit and grit of an undeterred housewife with aid coming from the most unusual quarters – a spirit from the other world!

Somalata, hailing from a family of humble means, is wedded to Chandan, younger son in a family of erstwhile zamindars – apparently possessing enormous riches. But as it turns out, this seemingly rich lineage of Bengali babus lived on the money gathered by selling off their only two prized possessions – lands in East Pakistan and family heirlooms like jewellery and the likes. Salaried jobs or business were insults to their prestige while squandering off wealth for all their leisurely pursuits was quite okay for them. Fortunately, some of the ladies of the family thought otherwise and so when crisis befell they were the ones to think innovatively in trying to save respect and esteem for the family.

At one point of the crisis, Somalata’s aunt-in-law, the elderly Rasmoni – spirited but foul-mouthed, widowed at the age of twelve and living at her parent’s residence since then, died leaving behind a great fortune in the form of several expensive ornaments – her marriage gifts – safely stored in a jewellery box. Nothing could have been as convenient but for the fact that Rasmoni’s ghost (without which a Shirshendu literature is never complete), immensely fond of her possessions during her lifetime and unable to bear the loss of it even in death, appeared and scared off the young Somalata compelling her to conceal the box, without the knowledge of her spendthrift brother and nephews. When the box went missing and the rest of the family members started an intense and shameless search for it, curious happenings prevented them from locating the box and bothering the nervous Somalata – thanks to Rasmoni’s ethereal presence always at the right time at the right moment.

Thus began the exciting adventure of the timid housewife turned resolute businesswoman who used her intelligence and perseverance to convince her dear ones and the mischievous spirit of Rasmoni for shaping a steady future for her husband and the family. The fame of decaying nobility was not only restored but was glorified as a successful business house of the province and Somalata became a proud mother to Chaitali, a flawless reflection of Rasmoni in her appearance.

Upto this particular point, the movie had been a hilarious joyride interspersed with sentiments where social values were explored for two generations of women. But the third generation as pictured from the perspective of Chaitali takes the movie away from the natural drama and introduces quite a different angle – the Naxal movement of Bengal, which though complete in itself, spoils the entire mood and squeezes the charm out of the movie. Worse still is the marked deviation from the original that ensured an intense and passionate completion while the forced introduction of the political perspective in the script blurs out the short but classic romantic angle too. So though compliments are due to Sen’s direction and the choice of locations but it must be admitted that the script was not well composed. So the reader of the actual story may regret the most after watching the full version of it (an edited version is reportedly playing in certain halls after its release).

Coming to the acting, greatest pick of the movie is undoubtedly Mousumi Chatterjee in portraying Rasmoni, the aged aunt-in-law channeling the frustration of her discontented womanhood in cursing the entire world but remaining revered throughout her lifetime and also in death. The charmingly charismatic Mousumi is so lovably foul-mouthed with her impish grin and mischievous pranks, that she remains the guiding spirit of the movie. It is really wondrous that at an age when others might contemplate a more serene role, she is sprightly as a teen, radiating the same freshness, the same playfulness so natural to her. Seeing her is a rewarding experience and it seems that nobody else could have been more suited for the role. Thus Konkona Sen Sharma (Somalata) should be commended too who balances the scale opposite the experienced veteran with her composed and measured performance of the nervous housewife, the shrewd businesswoman and the savior of the decaying household. Saswata Chatterjee (Chandan) is also wonderful in portraying simultaneously the signature Bengali babu and the rich younger spoilt son of the nobility while the others including Manasi Sinha and Paran Bandyopadhyay (Chandan’s parents), Piyush Ganguly and Aparajita Audhya (Chandan’s elder brother and his wife respectively), Kaushik Sen (poet and Somalata’s admirer) and Shrabanti (Chaitali) fittingly carries out their part.

Another appeal of the presentation is the title song, written by Srijata and sung by Upal and Anindya – a Bengali rap number – with its lilting tune and witty lyrics that sets the correct tone in the beginning and immediately brings focus on the careful comedy.

Thus the movie is highly recommended with a couple of tips, do not compare it with the literature and leave the hall as Chaitali grows up.

Rating – 7/10

- Anirban De

Chayamoy (2013)– Bengali Movie User Review

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Tollywood filmmaker Haranath Chakroborty entertains children and amuses the audience in general with his rendering of Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s eerie and eccentric characters in Chayamoy.

Rating 6.5/10

A pot of gold coins of historical importance seems to disrupt the quiet ambience of Shimulgarh when it is silently unearthed from its archaic past by a London based Bengali scholar and changes hands in the most interesting manner. The script and sequences follow Mukhopadhyay’s original storyline trimmed aptly for the screen and the main plot starts in the courtyard of Gagan Sapui, Shimulgar’s affluent but miserly pawnbroker where an apparent thief is beaten up and relieved of his possessions by Sapui’s guards. When the crowd gets interested in the stolen goods, Sapui peeks into the bag and confirms that those were indeed his but refrains from revealing its contents. Thus begins a race between the greedy and the good that witnesses characters, each more peculiar than the other who adds varied flavour to the adventure.

There is the fraud ecclesiastic Kaali Kapalik, peeking into all the village secrets – the actual enigma behind his ‘powerful insights’ – and trading them conveniently for his own benefits.

In contrast, the nonagenarian but sturdy Gourgobinda, cherishing the dream of living a further fifty years, makes it his sole duty to shield the weak and fight for justice, no matter how powerful the enemy might be.

Another interesting character is Ramapada Biswas, the village astrologer gone crazy owing to his calculations foretelling his own bleak future, blurts out prophecies at no particular moment.

Again there is Lakkhan, Gagan Sapui’s burly bodyguard and a man with a good heart, questionable past and a weaker brain, trying to make amends for his evil past and hot on the trail of the man with two left hands.

While the wealthy Gagan Sapui aspires for an ever increasing fortune and tries expanding it by any means, the penniless Haripada – the lone goldsmith of the village – takes all the risk to protect the innocent and to preserve priceless artifacts from being tainted. In fact his entire family, poverty stricken but principled, serves as one of the most important pillars of the plot.

Finally there is the friendly ghost Chayamoy, materializing at the right place at the right moment, scaring off the evil and guiding the worthy towards the right path and finally liaising the past with the present, he plays the central theme and steers the course of the movie and its plot.

These and many more participate in the excitement that will no doubt bring thrill to the young crowd and also will put a smile in their guardians’ faces. Infact if the dream sequence of Gagan Sapui could have been omitted it could have been more aptly termed as a children’s movie, but with that too, it is no less an enjoyable entertainer for the viewers.

The actors were cast more or less fittingly for the roles, the first and foremost being Dipankar Dey portraying the greedy and lusty Gagan Sapui to perfection. Sabysachi Chakraborty in the title role was in no way less fascinating and so does Ramen Roychowdhury in his short but crisp appearance as the eccentric Ramapada Biswas. But Paran Bandyopadhyay, quite surprisingly, seemed a bit stiff in his characterization of Gourgobinda.

Though the veterans provided the mainstay for the smooth sailing of the script, the lion’s share of my personal admiration goes to the trio of Sudip Mukhopadhyay (Lakkhan), Shantilal Mukherjee (Kaali) and Debesh Roychowdhury (Haripada). Beholding Sudip Mukhopadhyay as Lakkhan was surely a novel experience for the viewers, both young and old. Moulding himself to represent a brute and that too in a children’s film, he projected a character who reveres the elders, is confident of his strength but scared out his wits by ghosts and chiefly remorseful of his violent acts. With the blend of emotions that Sudip Mukhopadhyay displayed, the character truly represented Lakkhan that the original book defined. In the same breath Shantilal was in no way less admirable. Putting up a wonderful performance throughout, his expression as it varied from disbelief to awe when the persons he assumed as opera artists turned out to be ghosts, will be remembered for a long time and remains as one of the most memorable scenes of the movie. Finally Debesh Roychowdhury has been another apt choice who elevated the character of Haripada to a newer dimension. Haripada’s looks of agony as he watches over his family devoid of a proper meal had been as much realistically portrayed by Debesh as was his naïve delight and grateful acknowledgement as he senses a more bright future. Besides them Gourab Chakraborty as Indra Pratap and Master Adhiraj as the young Alankar have done justice to their roles.

Souvik Basu’s appealing cinematograpy truly brought to fore the rustic beauty of the countryside and provided a soothing backdrop for the adventures as it unfolded. But a disappointment was the editing (Rabiranjan Maitra) that could have been more perfect. Same can be said of the animations that were quite good in isolation but when considering its fusion with the movie, it remains a bit childish. Make up and costume design is also another factor that required a more detailed attention as while the ghosts has been aptly attired and most of the characters were correctly clothed but Alankar’s appearance never projected the abject poverty that his family is subjected to as was Indra’s disguise that didn’t do justice to his intelligence. Debojyoti Mishra’s music provided a refreshing relief in the songs but somehow it felt a bit immaterial for the film. Another point of concern was the less cohesiveness between scenes that seemed contradictory given the length of the film. But keeping these aside, Haranath Chakroborty deserves praise for his efforts to make a film – that certainly promises a successful run – on the genre that is rarely considered to create serious impact.

- Anirban De


Shunya Anka (2013)-Bengali Film by Gautam Ghosh (Review)

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Shunyo Awnko PosterConfused Gautam Ghosh’s  ‘Act Zero’  With Outstanding Cinematography and Smart Direction

We are watching Gautam Ghosh since his “Ma Bhumi”. From “Ma Bhumi” to “Act Zero” (Shunya Anka) a circle seems to be completed. As in every circle inevitably there must be some notches and some break ups, so were in “Ma Bhumi” and also there in Act Zero as well. Incidentally those notches are a little bit more in Act Zero than those were in  “Ma Bhumi”. The fact resides in the text. Ma Bhumi was based on a past and closed political chapter. But in Act Zero it is very much contemporary dealing with the state and with its people.

And thus the film depicts a social structure where a corporate life is in the axis. The life where, the wife Jhilik (Priyanka Basu) not having her rat racing husband Agni Bose alias AB (Priyanshu Chaterjii) for any emotional moment, behaves sometimes in a ridiculous manner. Along with enormous single molt whisky, she watches Fellini. Following that old man of the film  shouting “I want a woman” from a tree top, she being intoxicated climbs on the top of their water reservoir and  mimicries that  old man shouting dangerously “I want a man”. Jhilik is being rescued by the fire brigade people and at bed for publicly begging for “man”, she is punished by her husband AB who virtually raped her at night. Though later we experienced their musical and lyrical intercourse time and again.

This corporate AB for his survival or emancipation encroaches as a top executive of Juganta (Vedanta Resources PLC) in Bauxite rich Bidhangiri (Niyamgiri) mountains, which is very much within Red corridor or Mao corridor or MOU corridor at Orissa. Virtually  it is Gandoanaland. This survival of the fittest circle is drawn then with Raka (Kankana SenSharma), the young journalist of a national house “Indian Times”, then comes the tribal community, supporting them enter the Maoists and finally the circle is being completed with the state mercenaries killing the Maoists and giving open room for the bauxite diggers.

Again amidst this circle there is a notch or you may call it a break. The corporate AB, suffering from a dilemma, seeks a fortnight leave from his CEO and to pass time with his Jhilik, comes to a Muslim family consisting of a retired scientist Dr. Kabir Chowdhury (Soumitra Chatterji) and her spouse Layla (Lolita Chatterji) who is a regimented rigid Muslim. Dr. Chowdhury on the other hand believing in composite culture is a secular being. He is a strong follower of Dara Shuko, Lalan Fakir and Rabindranath. Here also comes the question of state terror by which their only son Dara, a string journalist, was shot dead by the security forces at Kashmir. Layla believes that this happened as because her son was a Muslim. To stop war Kabir is in search of an Utopian planning to hack all the web sites of the war mongers and so he want to start from zero which took its start from this sub continent with Aryabhatta.

This film of Gutam Ghosh (story along with Samaresh Majumder, screenplay, music, cinematography and direction) time and again reminds me of Arundhati Roy for her ‘’Walking With The Comrades’’ published in Outlook 29 March,2010. There are lots of sequences which seems to be sprouted from Arundhuti’s memorable article where she really spent time in the terrain of Janatana Sarcar of Maoists at Chattishgarh. Even in the phonic conversation Raka once uttered that she is ‘walking with the comrades’. The dialogue, where Raka is saying that, SP of Dantewara once told her that with police or military these Maoist movement could never be suppressed, instead, if television set is given to each and every family in Dantewara, then only this movement could have been managed, is a dialogue between Arundhati and that SP as mentioned in “Walking With The Comrades”. Even standing at Bidhangiri (alias Niyamgiri at Orissa) Raka virtually translates Arundhati’s line- “Across the Indravati River, in the area controlled by the Maoists, is the place the police call ‘Pakistan’.

Raka has been shown to be killed by real encounter. No journalist of any big house so far has been killed by Indian forces in any encounter with the Maoists, be it real or fake. In Adilabad in 2009 Maoist PB member Azad was killed in a fake encounter along with a journalist of a small magazine. I’m not going to say that the murder of a small magazine’s journalist is to be ignored. But so far it is learnt that a journalist of a corporate house moves with his/her assignment from the respective corporate house. And if assigned to a Maoists’ terrain like area, the house arranges for its journalist’s protection. On the other hand if the “revolutionaries” consider the respective journalist as their friend then, at any cost they offer protection to that journalist . Thus John Reed  moved around Bolshevik Terrain and Edgar Snow moved around the

terrain area of the then fighting CPC under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung in the forties. Not really comparable, but Arundhati Roy too walked with the Maoists ‘comrades’ in their terrain area of Janatana Sarcar for a couple of days.

But we understand that Gautam Ghosh had no other way but to kill Raka.  At the same time I do not understand why Arundhati’s name has never been mentioned in anywhere in the film.

Besides Raka, who accompanied by Arjun Munda (Arijit Mitra) first encountered with AB at ‘Bidhangiri” and later became a fiancé of AB, the character Jhilik is also very difficult to accept. Have you ever seen such an accomplished air hostess who seldom sings difficult songs of Rabindranath, sings classical songs  in full throttled voice, watches Fellini, recites and adores  modern verses and never utters a single line of Hindi film? Have you ever seen any corporate boss who has been assigned to execute in excavating bauxite worth 4 trillion US dollar (Samarendra Das & Felix Padel; Out Of This Earth: East Indian Adibasis And Aluminium Cartel), being moved from his vow by a couple of interactions with a mere journalist? So the axis of the film consisting of mainly AB, his surroundings – wife Jhilik and fiancé Raka is plainly illogical.

But still the film deserves to be popular for its outstanding world class cinematography, extremely smart editing (though his philander with snow ridden Manali, does go along within this film comfortably, but  this could be a plus point for the audience too), powerful acting of specially Soumitra Chatterji, Kankana SenSharma, Priyanka Basu and in a short spell of Barun Chanda and Arijit Mitra, and  startling voice of Ajoy Chakraborty, Rashid Khan, Kaushiki Chakraborty Deshican, Rupankar Bagchi and  Anupam Ray.

All those with lots of intellectual discourse will definitely attract audience to make Act Zero produced by Gautam Kundu and directed by Gautam Ghosh a grand success.

Producer: Gautam Kundu

Cinematography, Music, Direction: Goutam Ghose

Story: Goutam Ghose, Samaresh Majumder

Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Konkona Sen Sharma Priyanshu Chatterjee Priyanka Bose, Lalita Chatterjee, Barun Chanda, Arijit Mitra

Playback: Ustad Rashid Khan, Rupankar Bagchi, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Kaushiki Chakrabarty Deshican, Anupam Ray.

-         Pachu Ray

‘Abhiman’ relies on the performances of Arpita and Parambrata and on tagline Fight For Existence

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

21 November, 2007. In the broad day light the inhabitants of Ripon Street, Park Street, Rawdon Street, Laudon Street  and  Park Circus crossing of AJC Bose Road,Kolkata suddenly experienced a nightmare. An organized bunch of goons nurtured and planned by a top ranking member (belonging to minority community) of the big left party of West Bengal ransacked all the public and private vehicles, forced to close all the shops and created a situation for which the left party itself asked primarily the  paramilitary forces to intervene and then handed over the whole thing to Army itself. The goons were plundering for a solitary demand- “Drive Taslima Nasrin (the famous rebellious and internationally reputed Bengali author) out of the state at once”. She at that time enjoying Indian Residential Visa  was residing at 7Rawdon Street, just opposite to the Park Street Cemetery and very near to Park Circus area. And as soon as she was taken out of that rented residence to the Calcutta Airport for her final departure from her beloved city Kolkata and from her loving place Bengal, everything became absolutely calm and quite. In fact everything became normal on that very evening.

But Debanik Kundu, the director of badly made Bengali movie Abhiman, took  advantage of that situation by  shifting the time schedule from daytime to evening and made it continued till mid night. And having no substantial logic, all on a sudden he throws Ananya the protagonist of his film amidst this rampant disastrous situation just to built a new revelation of her outlook about human relationships. Why after two days` of her marriage she had to do the political assignment (interviewing the then left front minister Khiti Goswami) and after that assignment why from her Park Street Office she had to go to Ripon Street crossing (where she asked her husband to pick her up) are not at all clear. Any way, thus as per this “outlook” is concerned he makes another Abhiman quite different from than that of Rishikesh Mukherjii- Jaya –Amitabha combination`s of early seventies or Sukhen Das- Ranjit Mallick- Mahua combination`s of mid eighties. Debanik`s Abhiman is a love story of different kind . It`s a movie which generates a certain kind of expectations in the beginning and ultimately turns out to be a mixture of contradictions taking target audience to certain feeling with a positive revelation. But sorry to say Debanik that, though your notion is good, your effort  results in an  immature film making. Though the subject of Debanik`s Abhiman is not for the children, it`s a subject for mature cortex, but the making of the film and the logical approach of the film making is very much childish. Though the subject dealt earlier in many movies, ‘Abhiman’ is an honest attempt by Debanik  to bring to light the sufferings and punishments that women  are subjected to every day life, for no faults of their own. Most of the times even many educated, high-level ones do suffer in the same manner.

Story Line

Pratagonist of the film young, smart and a  contemporary lady Ananya (Arpita Chaterjii)  is a famous TV anchor of a reputed house. She is good looking and she is well behaved but she refrained herself from any premarital love making. She strongly believes in arranged marriage and so after negotiation she ritually and ceremoniously gets married with Debangshu (Akash Das Nayek) who  appears to be a loving, affectionate and caring husband. As per her expectations she  is warmly received by her basic in-laws too. During the  fateful evening  just after two days of her marriage, when ‘Ananya’ is on her way to home after a tight schedule as an anchor, the said  riot breaks out .Her husband Debanshu tried his best to contact and get in touch with  her but in vein and thus without the comforting presence of  husband by her side and immensely  petrified by the ongoing violence  around her, ‘Ananya’ is someway or other  forced to take refuge in the garage of a petty pickpocket, ‘Shiraj’ (Parambrata Chatterjee). After the  troubled night is over most safely in the custody of caring Siraj, ‘Ananya’ manages to return home along with  Siraj with a strong believe that good persons of her in law`s will receive Siraj the saviour.. However, much to her shock and dismay, she discovers a completely different and  ugly side of her hitherto friendly in-laws. None of them can accept the fact that ‘Ananya’ had not been sexually assaulted on the previous turbulent night .On that eventful night in the garage of Siraj suddenly Ananya`s period started and since napkin was not available she could not manage the stream. The eventual stains on ‘Ananya’s  saree  are also taken as tell-tale signs of her getting raped. In particular, ‘Debangshu’, the doting husband of ‘Ananya’ can no longer stand the presence of the latter.  That evening Siraj  a Muslim pick-pocket  comes in to save Ananya’s life. But, when Ananya’s in-laws don’t accept her back for spending a night with a stranger, as per her expectations what would have been a story of friendship in troubled times, ends up with Ananya trying to commit suicide. And finally after recovery ‘Ananya’ rises up against the injustice and misunderstandings those she is being subjected to. Debanik makes her protagonist  able to make her voice heard in a male-dominated society. She drives her in laws out of the nursing home and started a new life. And as during her conversation with Siraj on that eventful night Ananya came to know the reason of picking up odd profession by Siraj, she arranges one honourable  job for Siraj in her Television House.

Since I have not watched  ‘Ekti Tarar Khonje’, to me it`s Arpita`s a  strong comeback . Parambrata Chatterjee is in  his usual acting self in ‘Abhiman’. The performances of the other actors in ‘Abhiman’ are in a word miserable. Aakash Das Nayek, the well known face from Oriya movie, appears as most ordinary in his portrayal of ‘Debangshu’ . Even veteran Bodhisatwa Majumdar and Sumanta Mukherjii as fathers of Debanshu and Ananya respectively appear most amateurish. Cinematographer Sandip Sen manages somehow or other. At least he could have been little more smart in mixing the stock shots of that eventful day of Nov 21, 2007 with the concocted shots he shoot. Abhiman is a film with a jerky screenplay. The film does not make much headway as far as its musical score is concerned (Debjit Ray).

‘Abhiman’ relies mostly on the performances of Arpita  and  Parambrata and on it`s  tagline ‘Astitver Lorai’ (Fight For Existence).

Pachu Ray