Tag Archives: Akira Kurosawa

Natsamrat (2016)

Natsamrat review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Marathi Cinema and Nana Patekar both at their best form.

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

Maharashtra is one of the very few states which has managed to enrich the tradition of theatre in India through all these decades of Natsamrat-poster2our ever-increasing love for Cinema.

Then again, the accessibility, the flow of money, the immense popularity/fame and the ability to create the impossible – all being in favor of Cinema, could theatre ever compete with the popularity of a film?

Probably not, but keeping aside the Theatre Vs Cinema debate for another time, let’s acknowledge the fact that screenplays which are essentially based on significant dramas have always given birth to films of great quality and popularity!

The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams was later Natsamrat-poster5made into a popular movie by Elia Kazan by the same name, then the drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee was successfully adopted for the screen by director Mike Nichols, the legendary film Throne of Blood by Akira Kurosawa is a direct adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and George Bernard Shaw‘s ‘Pygmalion’ transformed into My Fair Lady by acclaimed director George Cukor.

All exceptional films built upon extraordinary plays from all across the world!

And recently, reputed Indian film maker Mahesh Manjrekar made a film Natsamrat (language Marathi), adopted from an iconic Marathi play Natsamrat-poster1of the 70s by the same name, written by famous Marathi play-writer Kusumagraj.

Interestingly, this remarkable film is not only special for it’s theatre adaptation but then, Natsamrat itself is a tribute to the grand tradition of Marathi theatre!

An aging theatre artist Ganpat Ramchandra Belwalkar (Nana Patekar), versatile and renowned, takes his leave from the stage and expects to lead a peaceful retired life with his devoted wife and caring children (and their extended family) but soon finds out that with growing age and fading popularity nothing remains the same as expected.

In between the articulate poems and the priceless extracts from many famous plays, the film masterfully brings out the emotional Natsamrat-poster3story of an aged couple who has become a nuisance to their own children, a mere botheration and a reason of embarrassment   in their modern lifestyle.

Then again, the film is also a celebration of friendship, of human relations, bondings, emotions and pure empathy.

But of course, the prime reason to watch Natsamrat is none other than Nana Patekar and his exceptional performance.

Like everybody else, I have been admiring Nana Patekar as a class Natsamrat-poster4actor in many of his earlier films like Ab Tak ChhappanParinda, his recent Hemalkasa and even his over enthusiastic character in Krantiveer but with this role as the ‘Natsamrat’ he has given his lifetime best.

And very well supported by Medha ManjrekarVikram GokhaleMrinmayee Deshpande, Sunil Barve and others, the overall acting standard is superbly maintained.

Great music by Ajit Parab (who also acted in the film) and cinematographers Ajith V. Reddy and V. Ajith Reddy needs a special mention for their camera work.

Natsamrat is a film that not only makes Marathi Cinema proud but it is undoubtedly one of the best Indian films of recent times.

Go watch it, it’s totally worth it.    

Poster courtesy: marathistars.com

Macbeth (2015)

Macbeth review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A visual extravaganza that makes even a tragedy look ravishing! 

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

What is common between directors like Orson WellesRoman PolanskiAkira KurosawaVishal BhardwajBilly MorrissettePhilip Casson and (recently included) Justin Kurzel?

macbeth-poster2Well, they have all managed to successfully put forward the epic Shakespearian tragedy on screen; a tale so heavy on greed, ambition, deceit and conscience, the story of none other than the King of Scotland – Macbeth.

This latest adaptation by director Justin Kurzel (of The Snowtown Murders fame) is probably the most artistic account of the play till date.

The basic storyline is of course the same.

Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), a brave Scottish general (Thane of Glamis) receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that he will be the macbeth-poster7next King of Scotland! To fulfill his ambition/prophecy and coaxed by his enterprising wife Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard), he slays King
Duncan (David Thewlis) and himself becomes the King. And then he gets rid of all his enemies and anybody who suspects him, except his own conscience.

Other than the brilliant cinematography by Adam Arkapaw the film owes its brilliance entirely to the acting department.

Over the years Michael Fassbender has become one of the best in his profession. In this film, he has taken Macbeth’s desperation, tyranny, loneliness and the deep sense of guilt to such depth, his eyes in the light of the fire, his paranoia, his enslavement to absolute power – all portrayed to perfection.

macbeth-poster6And Marion Cotillard is always a delight to watch, such a powerful actress!

Though the film faithfully follows the original acts of the theatrical version, but director Kurzel’s powerful visual style of storytelling makes full use of all the remarkable cinematic techniques and brings out the emotions to a different level. And also, special credit to the screenwriters Jacob KoskoffMichael Lesslie and Todd Louiso for such a brilliant adaptation of the original Bard’s poetry.

You need not have to be a fan of the works of Shakespeare to relish this 1h 53min drama, but then again if you are, then this Macbeth version is indeed a special treat for you.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

Andrei Tarkovsky – the sculptor of time

Andrei Tarkovsky – the sculptor of time. 

written by Souranath Banerjee

‘My discovery of Tarkovsky’s first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease. 

I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had always wanted to say without knowing how. Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.’ 

– Ingmar Bergman on Tarkovsky.

The famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky himself believed that ‘Art is born and takes hold wherever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual, for the ideal: that longing which draws people to art.’

A sequence from his epic film Ivan’s Childhood (1962), where Tarkovsky made sure he created cinema that is both ‘spiritual’ and ‘timeless‘. 

Steven Soderbergh, who remade Solaris (2002) with George Clooney in the lead confessed ‘I’m a big fan of Tarkovsky. I think he’s an actual poet, which is very rare in the cinema, and the fact that he had such an impact with only seven features I think is a testament to his genius.’

Son of the famous Russian poet Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky, the films Tarkovsky made were essentially poetic and mystic in nature. They are distinguished by metaphysical themes, extensive use of long takes and very few cuts, and they also (most often) deviates from all the general film-narrative structures. 

The famous levitation scene from Solaris (1972), Tarkovsky’s experiment with the Sci Fi genre.

Lars von Trier while explaining why he dedicated his film Antichrist (2009) to Tarkovsky mentioned ‘Have you ever seen a film called Mirror? I was hypnotised! I’ve seen it 20 times. It’s the closest I’ve got to a religion – to me he is God.’

Tarkovsky1But then again, majority of the audience and many critics across the world find his style of cinema too intricate and often impenetrable; they find his expansive long takes too languid and even boring. His cinema demands a little bit of patience.

Tarkovsky, who never believed in commercialization of cinema claimed that ‘If the regular length of a shot is increased, one becomes bored, but if you keep on making it longer, it piques your interest, and if you make it even longer a new quality emerges, a special intensity of attention.’

A sequence from The Mirror (1975), the shamanistic visuals that blur the lines of dreams and reality. 

After Tarkovsky’s death on 29 December 1986 Akira Kurosawa spoke of his ‘unusual sensitivity [as] both overwhelming and astounding. It almost reaches a pathological intensity. Probably there is no equal among film directors alive now.’

Tarkovsky wrote the famous book on film theory known as Sculpting in Time, where he spoke about his inspirations and also the power of cinema as a medium that can alter our experience of time.

His unique cinematography and remarkable ability to freeze time still exhilarate and inspire filmmakers and will continue to do so forever.

My favorite scene from Stalker (1979), visuals so magical and enigmatic that it gives almost a supernatural feeling.

Photo Courtesy: http://andrei-tarkovsky.com