Friday, September 14, 2007

Uttara(Wrestlers) -Bengali 2000

Uttara by buddha deb gupta has all the usual elements of his film, but this time he touches a theme that many around the globe can relate too.

The movie is not a single story.There are a few threads each signifying a certain theme.The movie mainly focuses on the wrestler friends Balaram (Shankar Chakraborty) / Nemai (Tapas Pal) and a father of a local church.Some new people from the city come to the village and the peace and tranquility of the village is disturbed.The father character is loosely based on Graham Stewart Staines who was burned to death by hindu activists in orissa.

The story of these various characters are just for the name sake to convey certain message .As usual some of the usual communist/socialist ideas are abundant in this movie.But buddhadeb makes up for all these with beautiful images shot in puralina, bengal.The movie has this usual buddhadeb magical feel to it.You will hardly see any other characters other than the ones who are significant in the movie.And he employs all the classical shots a low camera angle capturing the wrestlers wrestling right in the middle of the shot, on a mountain with the sky above them.An out of place church with a S path Leading to it.

And there are these dwarf characters and dancers coming now and then.Most of the time they are totally out of place and almost dream like.He breaks some scenes with the dancers coming from nowhere.A serious scenes of a gang chasing a boy to kill is cut off by dancers dancing with a beautiful beat and song.

The movie is a ode to the weaker people.The wrestlers basically represent the Powerful,strong,wealthy people or just USA and USSR.The core theme of the movie is that the basically humans are responsible for all bad things that is happening in the world and significantly, it is the stronger/tall people and not weaker/short peoples.The stronger don't care about love and care.In this both of the wrestlers are more interested in fighting with each other than taking care of their family.women for them is just a sex thing.There biggest happiness is wrestling with each other than their family.It could be gov't rather than taking care of its people indulging in war and confronting other countries.

The movie stats with the beautiful scene of woods in the village where there is tranquility and peace.It is disturbed by human beings.The people from the city are another example of stronger people who are only interested in sex and violence.

The dancers are peace harmony and traditional ways from which we are deviating. Buddhadeb is indirectly asking us to follow our old tradition and customs which were made for us to live in peace and harmony.The small boy represents the future generation which has witnessed violence on first hand and joins the dance troops.Basically a positive message that the future generation will be more peaceful and harmonious

Buddhadeb gupta

The Sky

Graham Stewart Staines murder

Bariwali(The Lady of the house) -Bengali 1999

Another nice movie from rituparno.This is the story of banulatha(Kiron kher) an old spinster, who has been leading a lonely life.Banulatha has a sad past, her marriage did not happen as her would be groom died by a snake bite on the eve of the marriage.Banulatha has been a spinster since then.She lives in a big house with a maid servant ,old house keeper and lot of dreams and desires.

She is finding it hard to keep the house because of her financial difficulties.Her lonely life becomes colorful when a movie director asks her house for shooting. Banulatha is attracted towards the director Deepanakar(Chiranjeet), she starts having feeling towards him.The shooting ends , what happens to banulatha is the story.

Rituparno takes his time with the banulatha character and beautifully conveys her loneliness and attraction towards Deepankar.Deepnakar's entry itself was a nice one.The current goes off in the house, there is some problem in the power switch board.Deepankar who comes to meet banulatha for the first time , sees banulatha struggling with the switch board, he says he will fix it and oolah he brings light into the house and banulatha's life.

Sudeshna Mitra(Roopa ganguly) is the lead actress of the movie, and the movie that they are shooting is Tagore's "Sand in the eye", which is nothing but choker bali.The movie that they are shooting focuses on the widow character(played by aishwarya in choker bali), her suffering and ironically the director deepankar is completely oblivious of banulata's.There is a scene in the movie where they want a married woman beautifully dressed with lot of sindoor to sit next to sudeshna mitra in the movie.just to bring pity to the widow character in the movie.Deepankar insists that banulatha should do that role.Again there is an irony here, this almost widow like spinster acts as a happy married woman and the lead actress of the movie who has it all acts as the widow.There are a lot of scenes like these in the movie.

The movie is subtle and nice.But i just couldn't stop comparing it with 36 chowringhee lane.The core of the movie is definitely inspired from 36 CL.But it is not even close to 36 CL in many aspects.Rituparno actually does his version, where there are many characters and lot of ironies and stuff.This actually makes us loose focus on banulatha, whereas in 36 CL it is all Violet stoneham.Jeniffer kendal rocked in 36 CL but ironically she didn't get the national award.

Cast and Credits:

Kiron Kher ... Banalata
Chiranjeet ... Deepanakar
Sudipta Chakraborty ... Malati
Surya Chatterjee ... Prasanna
Rupa Gangooly ... Sudeshna Mitra
Abhishek Chatterjee ... Abhijeet
Shivprasad Mukerjee ... Debashish

Music is by Debajyoti Mishra.He has done a nice job in the movie.There is this beautifully marriage song that comes during the title and at many places in the movie.

The movie is produced by Anupam kher, husband of Kiron kher.Actually the Banu latha role was supposed to be done by rakhee first, but some how it ended with kiron kher.

1999 National award for Best Actress - Kiron Kher
There was lot of controversies around this award.Kiron kher went on record that she practiced bengali for almost a year and did her own voice for the movie.But it wasn't so.Read more about it here

Kiron kher interview with kavitha chibber
The Controversy
Dub and Be damned

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dahan(cross fire) -1997 bengali

Jeez rituparno gosh is good.Another of his movie where he brilliantly weaves the screenplay with so many characters to build a great story.The movie which is kind of an amoress peros style start has an incident which affects the life of three womens.

Romita (Rituparna Sengupta), goes shopping with her husband Palash(Abhishek Chatterjee).Romita is molested by a gang in front of her husband, when the crowd is watching.Jhinuk (Indrani Haldar), a schoolteacher passing by the way comes to there rescue .This incident and the fight to get the men punished, creates rift in their respective families and in that process the womens of the movie learn many lessons about men and life as whole.

The movie is based on the novel of same name by Suchitra Bhattacharya and the book was inspired from a real life incident in which a female journalist Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti saved a housewife from public harassment.
She is also the very woman whose courage, conviction and tenacity inspired, first, a novel and, later, a film on her by Rituparna Ghosh named Dahan. Author Suchitra Bhattacharya was inspired by Ananya's guts in standing by a young couple who were harassed in full view of a crowd at a Kolkata Metro station on a rainy evening in 1992... Advised repeatedly to "forget" the incident and look the other way, Ananya stayed the course in her fight for justice and even returned a bravery award from the more about Ananya here

Rituparno is a gifted screenplay writer and he excels when there are more characters, UTSAB, SHUBO MUHURT and DAHAN are good example of that.The movie takes that small incident and paints a picture of problems that women face in our society.The thing is, this is not a movie about the problems of some poor illiterate village women.This is about well educated well do women who still face so many problems in the society. Romita for example faces pure violence from unknown guys in the street and after few days she faces violence from her husband in her own bedroom.It throws up lot of questions.If the violence by those thugs has to be condemned, what about the violence in her own bedroom?.

Like any other benglai movie from a big director, it has the anti capitalistic dialog's all over the movie.There are the usual fake people and those who want to take advantage of the situation.The movie is the struggle of 3 women amidst all these people.

Cast and credit:
Shakuntala Barua .... Jhinuk's mother
Abhishek Chatterjee .... Palash
Subhendu Chatterjee .... Jhinuk's father
Indrani Haldar .... Jhinuk
Nirmal Kumar .... Government lawyer
Suchitra Mitra .... Jhinuk's grandmother
Rituparna Sengupta ... Romita

Directon & Screenplay: Rituparno Ghosh
Cinematography: Hari Nair
Music: Poroma Banerjee, Debajyoti Mishra

Suchitra Bhattacharya

1997 was an interesting year. Both the male and female national awards were split for two persons.AMong the actors it was Suresh Gopi(Kaliyattam) and Balachandran Menon(Samaandharagal) and among actresses it was Indrani Halder & Rituparna Sengupta both for Dahan.

1997 National award for Best Feature Film In Bengali
1997 National award for Best Screenplay Rituparno gosh
1997 National award for Best Actress Indrani Halder & Rituparna Sengupta

Indrani Halder

Rituparna Sengupta

suchira bhattacharya
Dahan the book
Indrani Haldar

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rituparno gosh

Rituparno gosh has some great movies and he is one of the best directors among the young parallel movie directors.Rituparno is peerless when it comes to scripting complex screenplay's.He handles stories with multiple characters so beautifully.Many of his movies are women oriented and many of his movies have been well awarded at the naitonal awards.He has won the best director award for UTSAB in 2000.His movie Unishe april won the best picture award in 1994 and 3 or rather four of his lead actresses have won the national awards.

Kiron Kher in 1999 for Bariwali.
Indrani Halder & Rituparna Sengupta in 1997 for Dahan
Debashree Roy in 1994 for Unishre April

Rituparno gosh

His movies here

Bhuvan shome(Mr.Shome) -hindi 1969

The movie that kicked off the indian "Nouvelle Vague", bhuvan shome is a simple movie with a different narration style for its time.

Mrinal Sen

Based on the novel of same name by Balai Chand Mukhopadhyay(Banaphool), It is the story of transformation of one man ,Mr.Shome(utpal dutt).Shome is a strict disciplinarian who has fallen into a routine.He is one of those high ranking authoritative bureaucrat who follows rules to the T. There is one of his subordinate jadev patel(Sadhu mehr) who has been reported for taking bribes.Shome is about to dismiss him.Shome who is bored of his daily routine,takes a break and decides to go on a hunting trip.He steps out of the closed four walls and enters a world of simple village folks.There he meets gauri(suhashini mulay) ,who helps him in hunting. How his day out in the village transforms him is the remaining story.

The story of the movie is simple but the way it is told was very different.Mrinal employs jump cuts,freeze frames,juxtaposing,animation images and he pretty much steps outside the line of all film making style employed at that time.This is not like his later movies, which didn't convey much visually.In this movie he keeps things simple and everything is visual.For example you can see the suit clad shome getting into a villager dress,or the man who has been leading his life in a straight path like railway tracks making a U turn at the end in a muddy track with greenery on both sides.The confined rooms and open desert etc.

Mrinal has used the music and cinematography also wisely and it all adds up to the overall difference in the movie.Music is by vijaya raghava rao and cinematography by K.K.mahajan.K.K mahajan beautifully captures the natural background with desert and birds.

The movie jumps from comedy to sensitive scenes beautifully.Well some credit goes to utpal dutt here.He is in his usual best.And he gets good support from suhashini mullay.You will fall in love with this innocent village girl.You can't tell that it is her first film by seeing her acting in the movie.

Can a simple day out change a man?.It is interesting to think on those lines.Shome's office is a imaginary world where he has power and he is respected and he is at the top.But in a distant village nobody respects him and he absolutely has no power over anything.The imaginary power hierarchy of the office is not there and he is totally lost.The simple village life and a caring village girl does seem to have changed Mr.Bhuvan.A simple and interesting movie.

cinematographer mahajan
shooting bhuvan shome
mrinal sen
Suhasini Mulay

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala(The Pensive Shyamala) -Malayalam - 1998

The story of the movie is nothing extraordinary, it is about ordinary peoples.It is about one of those many irresponsible husbands in india.In this case it is Vijayan(Sreenivasan) a school teacher in a small town.Vijayan thinks high of himself and thinks that the school teacher job is way below his capabilities.He tries his hand in various business and fails.He does all these things without caring about his wife shyamala and kids.The movie is about what happens to vijayan and his family.

This is another movie with a beautiful screenplay.Probably the best of srinivasan's screenplay.This movie's screenplay is so well crafted that it will swing you back and forth into happiness and sorrow with such an time you are laughing at the antics of this slacker husband and the next second you want to kill him when the focus shifts to his wife shyamala.srinivasan plays with your emotions of the viewer and takes them on a roller coaster ride with emotions.

This is not a simple comedy movie though.Srinivasan beautifully concludes the movie with a nice message.

National award for Best film on social issues - 1999

Listen to the music here


Monday, September 10, 2007

Thaniyavarthanam(Solo perfomance) -Malayalam -1987

If theerthadanam was all story, this movie is all screenplay.The movie screenplay is just excellent.

This movie is a straight forward story about a man and how the blind beliefs of the society changes him.The movie is by the successful pair of writer lohithidas and director sibi malyail, which has given many award winning movies.One of the best roles of mammooty, this movie will haunt you for ever.

The movie focus on how deep the blind faith is in rural india and how our perception of something , makes it right or wrong rather thatn what really it is.I would hate to give away anything about the story of this movie.Nothing much to say, just watch it people, its one of a kind movie and a must watch.

Sibi Malayil

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Theerthadanam(Pilgrimage) - Malayalam -2001

Theerthadanam is one of those book based movies that gives you feel of reading a book when you watch the movie.Based on a short story by jnanapith M.T.Vasudevan nair, this is a simple and sweet movie.

This is the story of a retired school teacher Karunakaran(jayaram) and vinodhini(suhasini maniratnam).Karunakaran, occasionally gets letters from one of his old student vindohini.She mentions in the latest letter that she will be going on a pilgrimage to the mookambika temple.You slowly come to know that Karunakaran is actually hiding everything about vinodhini to his wife. He lies to his wife and sets off to the mookambika temple.From flashbacks we come to know that karunakaran had a love interest with vinodhini when he used to be her teacher.what happens to them, when they meet at mookambika is the rest of the story.This is kind of 10% of the whole story there is a lot more to it than this.

The movie is kind of slow and meanders as it follows these two old people on the pilgrimage, but all those scenes adds up at the end, making the climax richer.

M.T.Vasudevan nair employs some classic story telling techniques with theerthadanam.We usually support the protagonist as the story is told from his point of view.what nair does is he tells the whole story from karunakaran's perspective and you start feeling for his lost love, and you don't care about the vinodhini character.But when the climax happens it turns the whole table and your whole sympathy goes to vinodhini and all your opinion about karunakaran, changes in a minute.He falls in our eyes, as he had enjoyed a good life and all he was doing was chasing his lost love of youth, whereas vinodhini has lost everything.

Listen to the songs here


Director:B. Kannan
Writer: M.T. Vasudevan Nair

M.T. Vasudevan Nair

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