Tag Archives: Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Sacred Games ( TV Series)

Sacred Games Review

written by Anu Gopinath

The series takes a dark undertone from the word go and it’s highly appreciative of the directive duo for discussing the subjects of sex and violence with such level of authority!

My Ratings: 4/5

Long has been the content driven cinema taken a backseat and was pulled into the eroding deluge of memories of a lost generation who
revelled in their Bajaj and bell bottoms! Long has been the pride of Sacred-GamesIndian cinema taken a beating when the world was presented with the narcissistic, megalomaniacal and voyeuristic version of our life and cinema. The same pride that we earned and the respect that we commanded from the world cinema, which took eons of pain and hard work to achieve but still demanded the sacrifices of the lifetime of works of some of the greatest auteurs of Indian cinema like Satyajit RayGuru Dutt, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and company!

And when I completed watching the new web series Scared Games starring “the content “ in the lead, it is with absolute relief and pride that I can say, that all hopes are not lost for Indian Cinema!

Directed by two of the brilliant visionaries of contemporary cinema, Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, the first Indian Netflix Original TV Series – Sacred Games tells us the story of the intertwined lives of a mafia don nearing the twilight of his life and the struggles of an honest cop trying to do right amidst a corrupt system. The series bears the rare stamp of authenticity and manages Sacred-Gamesto hit all the right tones in its adaptation of the Novel of the same name written by Vikram Chandra.

The series hinges on the story of the rise and fall of gangster Gaitonde, played brilliantly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and how his life is intertwined with life of the honest cop, Sartaj Singh performed by Saif Ali Khan.

The TV series takes a dark undertone from the word go and it’s highly appreciative of the directive duo for discussing the subjects of sex and violence with such authority that was seldom seen in Indian cinema and has to be considered as one of their masterstrokes. The story deals with religious terrorism with a brilliant screenplay which has a heavy dose of bloodshed, sex, gore and violence and the end product which is devoid of any unwanted transgressions by the censor board, makes it a compelling watch.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the gangster with such elan and composure of an artist who is in control of his creation, taking his Sacred-Gamesown time to paint the shades of white when in love, dark when he’s avenging his enemies and grey, when keeping his comrades in line.

Saif Ali Khan has finally found his calling and he’s absolutely brilliant as the inspector Sartaj Singh and to his credit, underplays his role of a cop who is constantly being harassed, degraded and kicked around by his corrupt seniors. He in no way comes across as a conventional hero who fights the villains single handedly and saves the day. But he is our below average common man who is scared and thinks a hundred times before taking a step, an under performing overweight policeman who has a conscience, a simpleton who runs towards the warm embraces of his mother when things get too tough for him. And he absolutely delivers the goods with an astounding performance and
Sacred-Gamesfinally is given the platform to display his talents – the same talent which we had a few of the fleeting glimpses in the brilliant Omkara and Ek Hasina Thi. The Nawab is back and how!

But, when brilliance of Nawazuddin Siddiqui is always expected and Saif’s performance is worthy of appreciation, it’s the work of the supporting cast that completely steals the show and is what makes this series apart! Such is the depth and brilliance of their acting that one has the feeling of sitting in an Opera House and has been accorded the rare honour of seeing the brilliant performances of one sopran after the other, with each trying to outplay the other with the performances of their lifetime.

Sacred-GamesSpecial mention should go to Jitendra Joshi who was an absolute hoot as the constable Katekar, Rajshri Deshpande as Subhadra, Kubra Sait as Kukko, and then Neeraj Kabi and Geetanjali Thapa. Each and every single one of them gave a performance worthy of an ovation and carries the story on their shoulders and keeps the story moving.

Radhika Apte, the crown jewel of parallel cinema is surprisingly left with a role that is not as meaty compared to her colleagues but the woman holds her fort whenever pitted against the brilliance of Saif and the cast.

Superbly written by Varun GroverVasant Nath and Smita Singh, cool camera work and brilliant editing compounded with unique storytelling and absolutely mind blowing background score by Rachita Arora and Alokananda Dasgupta makes this thriller an Sacred-Gamesedge of the seat affair. Not to forget the perfect casting by Mukesh Chhabra Sacred Games is probably the best thing to have come out of Bollywood since Gangs of Wesseypur!

Sacred Games is, by no means over and with the serious talents of the likes of Pankaj Tripathi waiting in the wings and with a plot line left at an interesting juncture, one can expect a cracker of a second season in the cards!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com, Sacred Games Facebook page

JIO MAMI – DAY 3 (Cinemas and interactive sessions)

JIO MAMI – Day 3 (Cinemas and interactive sessions)

written by Souranath Banerjee

JIO MAMI 17th Mumbai Film Festival, 200 films from over 35 countries – it’s happening right now, right here and it’s a heaven for film lovers.

A brief description of the cinemas i have watched on the third day of the festival and also some exclusive snaps from the brilliant interactive sessions with film makers.

 

Day 3 (1st NOV)

My third day in MAMI starts with The Assassin (2015), beautiful Chinese cinema with breathtaking visuals.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKFtNsQ78oI

assassin-posterDirected by Hsiao-Hsien Hou, who already won the best director at the Cannes Film Festival for this film!

As the name suggests, it’s the story of an assassin, whose conscience often comes in-between the path of her ruthless missions.

Set in 7th century China, the film is brilliantly shot by Ping Bin Lee.

Powerful performances by Qi ShuChen ChangSatoshi Tsumabuki, a film that needs your patience (as it’s slow paced) but it’s definitely worth the time.

 

The second film, my favorite film of the day is called Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (2015).

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM2tblIkL4g

TAXI-posterDirected by Jafar Panahi (of course), the Iranian director has taken up the challenge to make his new film even after a 20-year-ban was imposed on him that restricts him from making any movies in Iran.  

So, becoming a taxi driver he shot a brilliant satirical comedy that reflects the socio-political scenario of his country.

The innovativeness of the film and the natural performances by all the actors have made this a very enjoyable taxi ride indeed.

 

And then there was Girish Kasaravalli‘s documentary on one of the most prolific film makers of India, Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

It’s called  Face to Face: Images / Reflections.

The film is not like any other documentary where simply a rally of questions and answers continue mostly praising the film maker’s talent and career.

With this particular film Girish Kasarvalli have genuinely tried to MAMI-AdoorGirish-Pic1understand the thought process of Mr. Adoor Gopalakrishnan while he makes his masterpieces. Being one of the most intellectual mind of our country, Adoor Sir explains through this film his process of thinking and planning before he sets out to make cinema.

And a rare chance to meet the legends as well, as there was the interactive session after the film screening: Girish Kasarvalli in Conversation with Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

A pleasure to be just a part of the audience and honored to interact with the two masters of Indian Cinema.

 

And the last but not the least, the day ended with a very unusual film called Ludo (2015).

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJrYWZDF2Es

LUDO-posterDirected by Qaushiq Mukherjee (Q) and Nikon, the film is a horror flick and probably the most gory film ever made in India.

With great performances by Rii and an unexpected cameo by Tillotama Shome, the film is a good experiment of horror and gore within a very small budget. But unfortunately, for me, the film remains as an experiment only.

MAMI-Ludo-Pic2Ludo is best described by Q himself when he along with the cast of the film takes a round of questions from the audience after the screening – according to him ‘it’s the story of four teenagers who plans to get laid but are fucked instead!’

MAMI-Ludo-Pic1Again, it was great being an audience in this interactive session with the films cast and crew.

A day very well spent, full of enjoyable cinema and great chance of interactions with some of the best film makers of our country.

 

If you want to join me in this exciting journey of the best Cinemas from around the world – just get a registration and hop in. If you love Cinema JIO MAMI is the place to be.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comblog.thefilmstage.comfilmmakermagazine.comfilmschoolrejects.com

JIO MAMI – an Introduction

JIO MAMI – an introduction.

written by Souranath Banerjee

MAMI-poster“We feel it is the need of the hour to disseminate and inculcate good cinema among Indian audiences” (-1997).

The above quote is a part of the Mission Statement from the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) Board of Trustees; a public trust established in 1997, by a group of film industry stalwarts spearheaded by master director Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

And indeed, MAMI has kept it’s promise.

MAMI-pic2Ever since it’s foundation, the non-profit seeking organization has been successful in bringing us the best of both Indian and World cinema every single year.

This year 2015, filmmaker Kiran Rao, the current chairperson of this prestigious trust, along with Festival Director Anupama Chopra and Creative Director Smriti Kiran has presented us with the 17th edition of the traditional Mumbai film festival.

A few other trustees, all well known figures of Indian Film Industry, the likes of Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar, Siddhartha Roy Kapur, Vishal Bhardwaj, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Vikramaditya Motwane, Riteish Deshmukh and others.

MAMI-pic1And of course, thanks to Co-Chairperson Nita M.Ambani and Uday Shankar, the CEO of Star India for making 29 October to 5th November 2015 (the festival dates) a blessing for all film lovers in Mumbai.

5 venues chosen that includes PVR Juhu, PVR ECX Andheri, PVR Phoenix Lower Parel, PVR Ghatkopar and Regal Cinemas.

Three sections of competition as in ‘International’, ‘India Gold’ and
‘Dimensions Mumbai’; while some other film-categories comprise of ‘World Cinema’, ‘India Story’, ‘MAMI tribute’, ‘Discovering Cinema’, ‘Restored classics’, ‘Half ticket’ and such.

MAMI-pic4A total of over 200 films from over 35 countries, and on top of that special workshops and interactive sessions taken by renowned film-makers the likes of Girish Kasaravalli, Adoor GopalakrishnanSujoy Ghosh and Rajkumar Hirani.

As Kiran Rao mentioned ‘a world of images and coversations that could inspire and provoke’ – a complete package of cinematic experience that you simply cannot afford to miss.

Hope to meet you all film lovers at the JIO MAMI 17th Mumbai Film Festival, do enjoy the lovely days of uninterrupted Cinema.

MAMI-art-posterLink for the film schedule at www.mumbaifilmfestival.com.

And by chance if you still haven’t registered then please do it now.

Registrations and Bookings at in.bookmyshow.com

Bhuvan Shome – the beginning of the Indian New Wave/Art house Cinema

Bhuvan Shome – the beginning of the Indian New Wave/Art house Cinema.

written by Souranath Banerjee

In history we have witnessed many revolutions; be it the political revolts of common men against some tyrant, or simply a revolution of ideas (scientific, social, economical or cultural) that seemed to challenge and unshackle the primeval customs and convictions of the society.

Cinema being the most significant collective art-form that plays a pivotal role in developing and mirroring the different cultures has also been revolutionized many a times and always for good.

Mrinal-Sen-with-Satyajit-Ray-posterItalian Neorealism, the French New Wave, the Japanese New Wave – and then, finally it was India’s turn to surf the waves of experimentation. 

Renowned directors (the neo-realists as they were called) like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal SenRitwik GhatakKhwaja Ahmad AbbasTapan SinhaChetan AnandBimal RoyGuru DuttV. Shantaram, later joined by Shyam BenegalAdoor GopalakrishnanG. AravindanBuddhadeb Dasgupta, and Girish Kasaravalli, inspired by the foreign film movements made films that were unorthodox in both style and execution.

mrinal-sen-posterThe already popular ‘parallel cinema’ became more radical and avant-garde.

And thus in the late 60s, Indian Cinema was revolutionized once again and it was the birth of the ‘new wave of Indian Cinema’, popularly known as the ‘art house’ cinema.

It is said that Mrinal Sen‘s epic film Bhuvan Shome (1969) along with Mani Kaul‘s Uski Roti and Basu Chatterjee‘s Sara Akash were the very first creations of the Indian New Wave.

bhuvan-shome-poster1Based on a Bengali story written by Banaphool (Balai Chand Mukhopadhya), Bhuvan Shome was Mrinal Sen’s first film in Hindi language.

It had the first appearance of Suhasini Mulay as an actor, ace cinematographer K.K. Mahajan‘s first feature, first music composition for a film by Vijay Raghava Rao and also the first ever voiceover given by none other than Amitabh Bachchan (he wasn’t even introduced as an actor at the time).

That year the film bagged three National Awards Best Feature FilmBest Director and also the Best Actor (Utpal Dutt).

But more importantly, Mrinal Sen introduced a new kind of film-language that was innovative and amusing to both the audience and the critics of Indian Cinema.

bhuvan-shome-poster3The basic story line of Bhuvan Shome is surprisingly uncomplicated.

The lead character named Bhuvan Shome (brilliantly played by Utpal Dutt) is a high-posted railway official, a widower (probably in his late 40s) and also an authoritarianwho steps out of his mundane office routine with the intention of playing the hunter.

But after being touched by the beauty of nature and then an encounter with a sweet and mysterious village girl Gauri (Suhasini Mulay), Mr. Bhuvan Shome’s perspective of judgement changes and he finally learns to relax and enjoy life. 

bhuvan-shome-poster4Though the interpretation of the film is often made from a highly cynical overview – that Bhuvan Shome’s character was actually manipulated by the not-so-innocent villager girl Gauri whose (only) real motive was to save her husband’s job. But again that’s debatable.

In an interview director Mrinal Sen interestingly pointed out: Our intention was never to tame a tough bureaucrat. On the contrary, our intention was to “corrupt” a bureaucrat suffering from Victorian morality.

Probably it was Mrinal Sen’s first attempt to satirize the Indian bureaucracy and indeed a successful one.

Shot mostly in the deserts of Gujarat (such locations were also rarely used that time) the film cleverly exploits the city-to-village contrast scenario – the bullock carts and the muddy roads, the hospitable simple-minded villagers and the picturesque flock of flamingos!

Superbly innovative editing by Raju NaikGangadhar Naskar and Dinkar Shetye.

Right from the first shot of the railway tracks (from the point-of-view of the fast moving train perfectly synced with classical alap) to the creative documentary format of narration and then the extensive use of still frames, use of live footages and also the innovative utilization of animation – Bhuvan Shome was the most stylized and inventive film of that time.

bhuvan-shome-poster2A film so deliberately diverging from the general norms and trends of filmmaking and yet such a visual treat for the cinema lovers. An exceptional artistic triumph!

Bhuvan Shome was Mrinal Sen’s most successful film and also one of the first feature that trumpets the beginning of a new era in Indian Cinema – the rise of Indian New Wave/Art house cinema.

Photo Courtesy: www.mrinalsen.orgPhoto (Sen & Ray) Clicked By: Nemai Ghosh.

The genius of Ritwik Ghatak

The genius of Ritwik Ghatak

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Renowned Indian Film Director Ritwik Ghatak made his first film Nagarik in 1952 (even before Satyajit Ray filmed Pather Panchali) but unfortunately the film was released twenty four years later, after the death of the director himself.

Probably Nagarik was the first art film of such caliber in the history of Indian Cinema but certainly never got the recognition it deserved.

Did Ritwik Ghatak himself got the recognition he deserved?

Well, I guess so.

Ritwik Ghatak was awarded Padma Sri for Arts in 1970 by the government of India.

His name is always taken in the same breath along with Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen considering them as the Best Indian/Bengali directors of all times.

Bagged the National Award for the story of his film Jukti Tokko Aar Goppo (Reason, Debate and a Story).

The popular film Madhumati (staring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala, directed by Bimal Roy) got nominated in the Film Fare Award for the Best Story category and guess who wrote the story – Ritwik Ghatak.

Some of his films especially Meghe Dhaka Tara, Komal Gandhar, Subarnarekha, Ajantrik, Jukti Tokko Aar Goppo and Bari Theke Paliye are immensely appreciated and analysed by all the students in all the major film schools (especially in India).

Isn’t that enough recognition?

May be. May be not.

But one thing i can say with certainty – in this world some people doesn’t give a damn about other’s recognition and Ritwik Ghatak was one such genius.

His unique faming and composition techniques, his innovative sound designing, his realistic take on the society challenged the regular norms of film-making in that era.

In both conceptual and practical levels Ritwik Ghatak dared to be artistically different and he redefined Cinema in his own way.

Probably Ritwit Ghatak’s biggest recognition would be the influence he had (i am sure he still has) on the future generations of film makers including the likes of Kumar Shahani, Mani Kual, Mira Nair, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ketan Mehta, John Abraham among many others.

The genius of Ritwik Ghatak, his dedication towards cinema and his vision can be best expressed in his own words –

Film-making is not an esoteric thing to me. I consider film-making – to start with – a personal thing. If a person does not have a vision of his own, he cannot create.

I believe in committed cinema.
I mean, commitment in the broadest sense of the term.