Tag Archives: Basu Chatterjee

The Wrong Man and Ek Ruka Hua Faisla: Two most important films we should watch right now!

With ‘The Wrong Man’ Alfred Hitchcock had tried to serve a different dish to his audiences. Sadly, he failed. The king of suspense was expected to tell only mysteries and thriller through his films. The film has suddenly come into relevance for me. While watching the whole JNU episode in which the police picked Kanhaiya Kumar from JNU campus and people engulfed by nationalism called him a traitor without a single question springing in their mind, I began to picture some scenes from ‘The Wrong Man’. Those scenes in which Manny played by the legendary Henry Fonda is picked up by the police mistakingly.

Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in "The wrong Man"- Bollywoodirect

Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in “The wrong Man”

It happens when Manny goes to his bank to apply for a loan and the bank employee finds Manny’s face and dressing matching with a criminal who attacked her some months back. In fear, she yells at him. All the other employees come to her and the police is called. The next moment, Manny finds himself in a jail.

He tries to convince the police, the woman bank employee who had put the blame and the other employees of the bank that he is not a criminal. But nobody tries to believe him. In everyone’s perspective, he is a villain, a criminal.

Perspective! Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Wrong Man’ was all about perspective. The film questions on yours and mine perspective in looking at things. Was it your perspective which believed that Manny was a criminal or was it someone else’s? That someone else could be anyone. It could be a gang on social media, your neighbour or may be the news anchor who is shouting enormously on the screen.

One woman finds Manny a criminal and Manny becomes a criminal the next second. Without any second thought, any rethinking, everyone has reached the conclusion.

At JNU, they picked up the wrong man. In spite of getting after those who are alleged defaulters, police picked up Kanhaiya Kumar- the man who wanted to stop his loved university from getting defamed unnecessarily. Nationalism was at work over there but in the wrong direction.

The only difference between the ‘The Wrong Man’ and the present JNU scenario is the intention behind putting the blame. In the film, the woman mistakingly sends Manny to jail. At JNU, it was not a mistake but an intentional game plan. But let’s not get into it. The bigger questions are – why are we in so much hurry in declaring judgements? Do we know that because of our impulsiveness, someone is taking advantage for their politics?

Are we ready debate on an issue before reaching a conclusion? And this question brings me to other favorite film – Basu Chatterjee’s Ek Ruka Hua Faisala. This film was a copy of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men. The tagline of the film in itself is a lesson. It says ‘Life in their hands, death in their minds’. Relate the tagline with the present scenario where everyone is after Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid (even if he is a traitor, let’s prove he is the one and not be depended upon some video clips and media to prove his guilt). Relate the tagline to the group of lawyers who attacked the journalists inside Patiala House Court. Relate the line with the plethora of social media comments which read ‘Kill the traitors’.

A scene from Ek Ruka Hua Faisla

A scene from Ek Ruka Hua Faisla

Now let’s come back to the film. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla involves the greats of the hindi film industry- KK Raina, Annu Kapoor, Pankaj Kapoor coming together in one film. The film is about a boy who allegedly has killed his father. The court has left the right to take the final call of the case on 12 men only after discussing all the aspects of the case. The 12 men are locked in a room to discuss.

Even before the start of the discussion, 11 of them have already made their mind – the kid is guilty. He should be sent to jail. All the witnesses are against him. There is a strong list of evidences against him. There is no question why he should be set free. The kid is a danger to the society, they said. All the men in the room share the same opinion except one.

Juror No. 8 played by KK Raina, stands and says, “I want to debate. I am not saying the Kid is not guilty but I dare to disagree that he is guilty. The court has given us the responsibility to take a very important decision and we ought to take it seriously.”

Juror No 8 is what all we need to be. Debate. Think. Rethink. Because even the truth needs a debate.

Written By – Shubham Pandey

Featured article from Bollywoodirect.

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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.

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