Databazaar Media Ventures has more than one reason to celebrate. Two of the films from Bengal it has acquired for North American and Canadian distribution, screening, streaming and telecasting rights have been picked for screening at the Indian Panorama at the Goa IFFI this year. The first film is Anjan Dutt’s Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona and the second one is Memories in March directed by Sanjoy Nag. The first film is in Bengali while the second one, released internationally, is in English.
Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona is partly autobiographical story of a legendary singer and his relationship with a 20-year-old protégé who comes to learn music from him. The relationship is more of mutual dependence and is entirely platonic without any sexual overtones. Dutt who has written the script and the dialogue and has directed the film plus enacted the main role, makes his real-life accompanists Lew Hilt, Amyt Dutta and Nondon Bagchi act themselves in the film as his on-screen accompanists. These risks raise the film to an aesthetic and performance level Anjan Dutt’s films have not reached before.
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Neil Dutt’s beautiful music recreates the history of Dutt’s and Suman’s songs of the 1990s, blends this into the contemporary school that Ranjana now writes and sings, merging into it a beautifully picturised and positioned Tagore song. Ranjana begins to sing it alone but slowly, Abani joins and the scene shifts to Stanley Bose (Kabir Suman)’s home when everyone sings the song celebrates the bonding that music alone can create. Somlata who lends her voice to Ranjana’s lip-sync will soon be hailed as the best discovery in recent times.
Memories in March directed by first-time director Sanjoy Nag is about a mother’s coming to terms with the double shock of her son’s death and learning afterwards that he was gay. “I discovered that it was about a border crossing, two people moving from grief and antagonism to understanding. A homophobic, conservative mother coming to accept that her son was gay. I love to work with actors who are competent, sensitive and want to be part of the project rather than just show their pretty faces. There is no star worshipping, just a honorable exchange of ideas,” says Sanjoy.
The film fleshes out the reality of memories not being the monopoly of the immediate family such as a divorced and grieving mother. Memories are not confined to material belongings of one who is no more. Memories also consist of moments shared with people distanced from blood ties who often become a ‘new’ family in a new home.
Deepti Naval, who played the bereaved mother in the film, is thrilled about the involvement of Databazaar Media Ventures in the film’s ventures in North America and Canada. “This has helped in better exposure for the film. It will get noticed by the NRI and other audience in new markets. More projects for films which are not exclusively mainstream will come up. More experimentation will become economically viable. Directors will tend towards more unusual subjects with a definite theme and not just ‘timepass.’ With DMV’s distribution network, I think Indian cinema will stretch its borders to credible and concrete global acceptance,” she sums up.
– Shoma A. Chatterji