Tag Archives: Satyajit Ray

Article 15 (2019)

Article 15 Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

The most significant Indian Cinema of the last few decades!

My Ratings: 4.3/5

1949. Let us begin from the very beginning. A quick recap.

‘… shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of race, religion, caste, sex and place of birth.’ – Indian Constitution. Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar. Fundamental Rights. Right to Equality. Article 15.

Fast-forward to 2014. Badaun gang rape allegations –  a true incident that happened at Budaun district, Uttar Pradesh; two teenage girls went missing and the following morning they were found hanging from a tree. It was a case of gang rape and murder, which both the local police and the CBI tried their best to cover up. Why? Because the murdered girls were poor and belonged to the Dalit community (the untouchables). And the murderers were from the Upper-Class, the rich and the influential.

The film Article 15 directed by Anubhav Sinha (of Mulk fame) is based on the above mentioned tragedy. The movie also takes inspiration from a number of other incidents from across India where people are being humiliated on a daily basis, condemned and tortured, and denied justice just because they belong to a particular caste.

Agar sab barabar ho jaayenge toh raja kaun banega?” (If we all become equal, then who will be the king?)

Farq bahut kar liya, ab farq laayenge.

Ayushmann Khurrana (who has mastered the art of choosing great scripts) does a fabulous job portraying the man who is desperate to change the system by being a part of the system. Thankfully not portrayed as an outsider, otherwise the script shouldn’t have worked so well. Kumud Mishra, Ashish Verma – both play pivotal roles and plays them to perfection. Sayani Gupta and Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, though having limited screen time still manages to make an impact on the audience.

But Manoj Pahwa is the man who grabs the spotlight; his performance as the corrupt cop eager to derail the case is an absolute delight to watch!

Let’s be Indians firstly and lastly.

Special mention to Ewan Mulligan’s cinematography which brilliantly escalates the suspense and also gives the film the much needed feel of reality. Music by Mangesh Dhakde is so well balanced, just enough to maintain the intensity of the film.

Since Satyajit Ray‘s exquisite drama Sadgati (1981) starring Om Puri, Smita Patil and Mohan Agashe, hardly any other filmmaker have attempted to touch the sensitive subject of Caste-discrimination. And thus Article 15, a superbly directed social-thriller by Anubhav Sinha is surely the most significant Indian Cinema of the last few decades!

A film that dares to shed light over the sinister shadows of our civilisation, on the darkness that a nation unanimously prefers to ignore, on a curse that have been burning human lives for generations. Someone needs to put out the fire that torches the innocents, someone must heal the wounds, and put an end to this vintage shame. Someone must help us regain our faith in humanity!

But as Article 15 effectively points out – the real problem is that we are still waiting for that ‘someone’.

That someone needs to be Us.

Article 15 Trailer. YouTube.

P.S. According to the study of NCRB data on Caste Discrimination in India, the atrocities committed against SC and ST women are disturbingly high; statistics of the year 2016 alone shows 2541 rapes and 786 murders. That too, only half of these crimes are said to be officially reported.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

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

Best Child Psychology Films ever made (10+1list)

Best Child Psychology Films ever made

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best Child Psychology Films ever made: From birth to adolescence, the period loosely termed as our ‘childhood’ seems to be the most important chapter of our human life when seen from the point of view of a psychologist. Make no mistake, your nature, personality, Child-Psychology-Filmshabits, characteristics, hobbies, passions and fears all have their seeds deep embedded in your youth!

And thus Child Psychology is not only a significant subject for the scholars but an equally important concern for the parents if they really want to know their children and nurture them, love them and raise them in the best way possible.

There are many movies that have tried to get an insight into a child’s mind, the world from a kid’s perspective, an effective way of portraying their innocence, their emotions and the unconditional love they seek and share. But only a few films have honestly dealt with the various sensitive problems a child faces while growing up!

And so here we are with the Best Child Psychology Films ever made. Watch and if possible learn!

10. Broken (2012)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8AmM54kf1M

Child-Psychology-Films

For children violence in any form (even if they are only the observer) has a huge impact on them. It robs their innocence and makes them feel in a way ‘broken’.

It’s about a young girl, her family and her neighborhood and how her life changes after witnessing certain violent events.

A highly engaging British film directed by Rufus Norris, humorous yet intense; superb acting by Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and Lily James!

9. Taare Zameen Par (2007)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn_2Ie_jtX8

Child-Psychology-FilmsChildren are so prone to academic pressure from such a small age, strict parents and rigid school regimes doesn’t allow them to discover their passion, face their problems and overcome them.

Directed by Aamir Khan (and Amole Gupte uncredited), the movie brilliantly explores the mind of an imaginative child Darsheel Safary and probably the best teacher-child relationship I have seen on screen!

8. What Maisie Knew (2012)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHHt5eYl95c

Child-Psychology-FilmsDivorces are always a painful affair for the adults but it is the children who really suffer.

Directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, an emotional film from the perspective of a young girl who is caught right in the middle of her parent’s bitter custody battle.

Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Steve Coogan and Onata Aprile as the tormented girl Maisie who knew … 

7. Mean Creek (2004)

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

Child-Psychology-FilmsBulling has always been a serious issue specially among children.

But in this case a bully is being lured to a trip into the woods – a planned revenge from one of his earlier victims. But the problem with young children is that they don’t know where to stop!

Directed by Jacob Estes, this is a highly underrated yet brilliant movie and one of the best insight into teen-psychology!

6. The Hunt (2012)

Jagten (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK9cO7QN8Ak

Child-Psychology-FilmsMinds of children sometimes play cruel tricks and their one innocent playful lie – may be it’s just a game for them but it can certainly ruin the life of an adult forever!

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, the Danish movie touches a sensitive subject where a young girl’s false account of a molestation story turns a Kindergarten teacher’s life upside down! A superb drama brilliantly performance by Mads Mikkelsen.

5. Ordinary People (1980)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdjlLq1tqmU

Child-Psychology-FilmsChildren react to death of their close ones in most unexpected ways, their pain can often turn into guilt that eventually leads to strain and emotional instability.

Directorial debut of Robert Redford, a film that dares to explore the complexity of relations within a family after the death of their older son. Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton at their very best.

4. Lord of the Flies (1963)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtzU3gfLV3M

Child-Psychology-FilmsIn the complete absence of adults how does the children act, what are their priorities and instincts?

Directed by Peter Brook, this film is a savage case-study of a group of young survivors of a plane crash and what they do to survive and declare their dominance over one another!

Based on the famous book by William Golding, undoubtedly one of the best works on child psychology till date. Though as in most cases, the book is much better than the film!

3. Children of Heaven (1997)

Bacheha-Ye aseman (original title)

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

Child-Psychology-FilmsIranian directors are globally acclaimed for their children oriented dramas, simple stories and absolutely brilliant performances and this film by director Majid Majidi is no exception.

A young boy (Amir Farrokh Hashemian) has lost the shoes of his little sister (Bahare Seddiqi) and he is determined to find them! A film that explores a child’s unconditional love and devotion!

2. The 400 Blows (1959)

Les quatre cents coups (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i89oN8v7RdY

Child-Psychology-FilmsA childhood without the care and affection of the loved ones (specially parents) is the worst suffering for a child.

Directorial debut of François Truffaut, the acclaimed French director tells the story of a neglected mischievous young boy (Jean-Pierre Léaudwho is hungry for love and affection.

This film starts The Adventures of Antoine Doinel, the epic collaboration between the director and actor which includes in total five films – four features and one short.

1. Pather Panchali (1955)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr4yNlLZ-uI

Child-Psychology-FilmsA poor family from a rural Bengal-village struggling for a better life but does kids really get affected by poverty? They seem to find happiness in the midst of the most simple and unexpected surroundings!

Directorial debut of Satyajit Ray, the first part of the acclaimed Apu Trilogy which deals with the innocence of a child’s mind and his attachment to his family!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxlnDRqPUXE

Children are often very possessive of people whom they look up to or admire, especially their elder brothers and sisters. And they also have a vivid imagination!

Directorial debut of Philip Ridley, this brilliantly shot movie is about a young boy who is convinced that the woman his brother loves is actually a vampire. It’s a dark thriller that perfectly captures the vulnerability of a young mind.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com.

In Conversation with Sanjeev Gupta – director of the award winning film Q

In Conversation with Sanjeev Gupta – director of the award winning film Q

interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

Hello Sanjeev, welcome to Cinema Forensic.

Thank you!

Your debut film ‘Q’ have already taken rounds in some of the most prestigious national and international festivals, and now it’s being released on Netflix! How do you feel about it?

Ya, it feels great!

sanjeev gupta photo 1Q has been selected in many festivals around the world and the response has always been positive.

Earlier I did plan for a theatrical release for my film but while waiting for the CBFC’s response I got the opportunity to show it to Netflix. And I instantly went for it and it got selected as well. I feel so lucky that they have picked up Q. Netflix, as a platform, has a huge audience across 180 countries. That’s the best part. With a deal like this, you know your film will be internationally watched.

Congratulations on the film’s release! Now tell me something about your film Q, what is it about and how did you come up with this concept?

Q is a film about a little girl and her relations with people surrounding her, and then those who come in contact with her, and their combined destiny as the characters go through an incredible journey that comes to an unpredictable end.

Actually I keep watching many documentaries and take much interest in the news and other world affairs. So this concept of Q is Q landscape posterinspired through many such real events that I happened to notice over the time. Though not based on one particular incident, my film is a fictional version of many such realities of life.

And since it’s a very realistic story it needed a realistic treatment as well. No background music used in the film, only Foley sounds and on location recorded natural ambience sounds. I wanted to make sure the audience feel the realism and be a part of it.

That’s  brilliant! Tell me something about you, how did you get inclined in making films, when did you decide to be a filmmaker?

I grew up in Agra and was always into films but never thought it will be my profession of course (smiles).

But then I watched one particular film Shatranj Ke Khilari by none other than Satyajit Ray and it did change something in me. I started gollapudi-srinivas-national-award-2014-111looking at films in a different way! Then, after my degree in Media Studies from Pune, I came to Mumbai and tried to assist people to learn the craft of making movies. But since I had no connection in the film industry I didn’t get any exposure. I did various odd jobs and side by side went on exploring filmmaking.

Finally I wrote my own script and started to narrate it to individual producers and production houses. Then after facing numerous rejections I finally met my producer who believed in me.

And that is how my first film ‘Q’ got made (smile).

Don’t you think that with films like Q you Independent filmmakers are the reason why the indie-film scenario is improving in India?

Yes may be it does. But honestly I have a problem when some filmmakers are called independent filmmakers and some not.

IMG-20140929-WA0006Today I choose to make “Q” and tomorrow I may choose to direct a fantasy film or a VFX film, may be even supported by some production house. But ultimately it’s my films, my story and my way of telling them. I even don’t like such categories like, festival film, theatrical film or an online film – films are films, stories are stories and filmmakers are filmmakers!

All the images are exclusively provided only for the use of this article.

BEST BENGALI FILMS 2015 – 2016 (10+1list)

Best Bengali Films 2015 – 2016

written by Souranath Banerjee

Hello to all you Bengali ‘nak uchu’ snobs who consider Bengali Cinema/Literature/Music as the epitome of art and creativity – well, glad to announce that I am exactly like you!

And when ever we Bengalis talk about Cinema, we time travel to the memorable glorious past of Bengali Cinema – the days of Satyajit RayMrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak and then coming back to the present we proudly allude to the likes of Rituparno GhoshBuddhadev DasguptaGautam GhoseAparna Sen.

Such legendary directors and their invaluable contribution to World Cinema make us feel honoured and content, and why not?

Similar Interest: Best Bengali Films 2012 – 2014

Similar Interest: Best Bengali Classic Comedies of all times

However this current list is of more recent times, the last two years to be exact (2015 – 2016), a list of the best Bengali films from exceptionally talented directors who are very much the present and the future of Bengali Film Industry!

Best Bengali Films 2015 – 2016 – let the countdown begin!

10. Double Feluda (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1V7VWYKbeI

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Sandip Ray have made his latest film on none other than two back to back mystery stories originally written by Satyajit Ray, based on the famous detective character Feluda!

And guess what, Sabyasachi Chakraborty is back in and as Feluda and still rocking! And then of course we have Saheb Bhattacharjee as Topshe and Paran Banerjee as Sidhu Jetha. I only wish that somebody could replace Mr.Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu aka Santosh Dutta as well. I guess some people are just irreplaceable!

9. Belaseshe (2015)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0zUrtioA2g

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Directed by Shibprasad Mukhopadhyay and Nandita Roy, probably the best film that explores the intricate emotional values of various human relationships, be it married or unmarried, short time or a life-long companionship!

Brilliant chemistry between Soumitra Chatterjee and Swatilekha Sengupta straight after they shared the screen in Satyajit Ray‘s Ghare-Baire in the year 1984.

8. Byomkesh O Chiriakhana (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjc4ogHSOo0

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016It seems that the Bengali-audience can never have enough of their favourite detective Mr.Byomkesh Bakshi.

Directed by Anjan Dutt, this thriller revolves around the murder of a judge and this time Jishu Sengupta plays the role of the typical ‘bhodrolok’ sleuth to perfection. And Saswata Chatterjee as Byomkesh’s friend/assistant Ajit and Usashi Chakraborty as Byomkesh’s wife Satyabati.

7. Shankhachil (2016)

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

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Acclaimed director Goutam Ghose‘s latest film won the National Award for Best Bengali film of 2016!  

It’s a India-Bangladesh joint venture and the story is also based on consequences of partition and how people get affected by it still today.

Commendable performances by child artist Shajbati and then of course Prasenjit Chatterjee, Kusum SikderDipankar Dey all have given their best. 

6. Eagoler Chokh (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oZZkXdFRS0

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Based on Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay‘s story and directed by Arindam Sil this is the best detective thriller among the endless Bengali-detective movies that had been churned out in the last year.

The investigator Shabor Dasgupta played perfectly by Saswata Chatterjee slowly connects the dots as he cracks a murder case of a young woman.

Ebar Shabor, by the same director and based on the same detective character is also worth your time.

5. Chotoder Chobi (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8xRKKtL2Oo

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016An emotional heart-touching love story between two people born with genetic defect causing dwarfism.

Directed by Kaushik Ganguly, this slow-pace drama won a National Award in the ‘Best Film on Other Social Issues’ category.

Unique concept, superb direction and brilliant natural performances by Debalina Roy and Dulal Sarkar. Mr.Dulal Sarkar was also awarded best-actor at Goa International Film Festival last year.

4. Nirbashito (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iang3nizjTE

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016A biography of a writer in exile, a story about her isolation, her hopes and her helplessness – officially not based on the life of controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen but rather inspired by her life post exile.

Directed and also performed by Churni Ganguly, the film won the National Award for Best Bengali film of 2015 and also was India’s Oscar nomination in the category “Best foreign film” in 2015!

3. Open Tee Bioscope (2015)

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

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Adolescence, adventures and experiences, friends and infatuations – Kolkata seen through the eyes of a young boy.

Superb performances by the young actors Riddhi Sen,  Surangana Banerjee,  Dhee Majumder.

Directed by Anindya Chatterjee and Shoojit Sircar, if you want to experience the nostalgic North Kolkata of the 90s, this is the film you should watch!

2. Cinemawala (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9_lUiinpFo

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016This film beautifully takes on two different tussles – one, as the digital media threatens the single screen movie theatres specially in the small towns and the secondly, the universal clash between a father and his son.

Brilliantly performed by Paran Banerjee and Parambrata Chatterjee and directed by Kaushik Ganguly, an emotional tale that Cinema-lovers cannot miss. 

  1. Praktan (2016)

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

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016

A married woman meets her ex husband while they are on a journey from Mumbai to Howrah by train – a beautiful film about relations and relationships.

Directed by Shibprasad Mukhopadhyay and Nandita Roy, probably the most popular Bengali film of the last couple of years portraying a brilliant chemistry between Prasenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Asha Jaoar Majhe (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFObwB9TAwc

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Also known as Labour of Love, this is one unique film that won two National Awards and was appreciated in many festivals around the world.

(click for the review)

Directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta, starring  Ritwick Chakraborty and Basabdatta Chatterjee this is one of the best non-comercial visual treat that happened to the Bengali Industry in the recent times.

A few other films that are also worth your time are Srijit Mukherji‘s Rajkahini (2015), Suman Mukhopadhyay‘s The Last Poem (2015), Pavel‘s Babar Naam Gandhiji (2015) and Suman Ghosh‘s Kadambari (2015).

 Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Most Influential Films Banned in India (10+1list)

Most Influential Films Banned in India

written by Souranath Banerjee

In India it is not always enough to make good Cinema; the more challenging part for the directors and producers is to make sure that their movie gets released on big screen!

This year only, the producers of Udta Punjab (a film based on drug udta-punjab-posterabuse in Punjab) had the most highlighted and controversial court fight with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) headed by Pahlaj Nihalani. Finally Anurag Kashyap (representing the Phantom productions) did win the legal battle and the film was cleared with only a single cut. 

But movies being banned is nothing new in India. Due to reasons that may be political or social, it can be for abusive language, use of narcotics or due to explicit sexual content, numerous films have been delayed and some unfortunately have never seen the light of a movie theatre yet!

Here is a list of some of the most influential films Banned in India. Do watch them to know the importance of these films and the real reasons for them being out of reach of their audience.

10. Sikkim (1971)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmSeVvA61xU

Sikkim-PosterDirected by legendary Satyajit Ray, this is a documentary on Sikkim commissioned by the then King of Sikkim Chogyal.

The brilliantly made film is about the sovereignty of Sikkim. But in 1975 when Sikkim became a part of India the documentary was banned by the Indian Government. 

Recently, in 2010 the ban was lifted and the classic is now available for all you film lovers!

9. Fire (1996)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnshN0wqiCo

fire-poster1Directed by Deepa Mehta, this is one powerful Indian film that tells the story of two wives from a middle class family who being frustrated by their loneliness and dissatisfied sex-life ignites a lesbian relationship among themselves.

Bold and thought provoking – though globally appreciated and well received but was predictably banned in India right after its release!

8. Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqztmYen6co

kama-sutra-poster1With numerous candid sexual scenes throughout the film, although artistic and sensual in a very royal-Indian way, this film of course couldn’t manage to pass the morality test of the Indian Censor board.

Directed by Mira Nair, a brilliant piece of storytelling which was too offensive for the audience of a country from where the whole concept of ‘Kama Sutra’ was actually originated. What an Irony! 

7. Parzania (2005)

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

parzania-posterA brilliant film that dares to portray the horrific and painful genocide that took place in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002, commonly known as the Gujarat riots!

It was banned in Gujarat because of it’s sensitive subject even though director Rahul Dholakia and lead-actress Sarika won the National award for the film!

Great performances by Naseeruddin Shah and Corin Nemec as well.

Another film on the same subject that was banned too was Nandita Das‘s Firaaq (2008)

6. Black Friday (2004)

Film scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR1mkPQI9z0

black-friday-posterThe 1993 serial Bombay bomb blasts that shook the entire nation and then, it’s aftermath – a film that managed to portray it all and that too in a brilliant graphic manner.

This Anurag Kashyap film was too dark and realistic to release at the time specially since the trail decisions of the many arrested were pending.

5. Bandit Queen (1994)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66uIVFb6ATA

bandit-queen-posterAbusive language, nudity, sexually offensive content – the biopic on the media-hyped woman-bandit Phoolan Devi was banned by the Indian Censor board due to all those reasons!

But then again the film directed by Shekhar Kapur, is one of the most courageous and dramatic Indian biopic that I have seen till date!

Seema Biswas won the National Award for her stellar performance as Phoolan Devi while Shekhar Kapur won the Filmfare Best director award!

4. Garm Hava (1974)

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

garm-hawa-posterScorching Winds, the film that depicts a Muslim family struggling to find their identity as our country was reeling through the repercussions of the partition.

Directed by M.S. Sathyu, and brilliant performance by Balraj Sahni, but the film was banned since the subject matter was considered to be too sensitive for the time. Finally, after 8 months it got released, and yes – the film was also nominated for the Palme d’Or at the prestigious Cannes Film festival!

3. Aandhi (1975)

Film song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-HnmVg0-O8

aandhi-posterDirected by Gulzar, this one was banned during the time of it’s release due to the fact that the lead character played by Suchitra Sen seemed to have similarities with the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Later in 1977 the movie finally got it’s theatrical release; the film won the best critic award and Sanjeev Kumar won the best actor at the Filmfare Awards!

2. Amu (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqGGM8xl3Qw

amu-posterA film based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a brilliant story woven around the genocide that once shook our country.

Directed by Shonali Bose and superb performance by Konkona Sen Sharma, the film got banned of course because of it’s sensitive subject matter but it did get a release with an adult rating  and some specific audio-cuts. The film won a National Award that year!

  1.  Water (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7uM-CbzIAI

water-posterAnother one from the highly acclaimed director Deepa Mehta, a stunning portrayal of the widows in India who are forced into a life of extreme sacrifice and poverty. 

The film was not only restricted from the release by protesters who felt it was too controversial a topic for the Indian audience, even the sets of the film were attacked by fanatics while the film was being shot!

and (The ‘+1 film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Gulabi Aaina (2003)

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

gulabi-aaina-posterThe Pink Mirror – a 40min short directed by Sridhar Rangayan which explores homosexuality in India. Through this unique film the concept of trans-sexuality was addressed probably for the first time in our country.

Needless to say a bold film on gender issues has to be banned by the Censor Board even when it was screened in more than 70 film festivals and been appreciated by the critics all across the globe!

Similar Interest: Best Concentration Camp films during the Holocaust

Similar Interest: Best Jew-Nazi dramas during the Holocaust

Poster courtesy: sikkimnow.blogspot.inwww.imdb.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.

Rituparno Ghosh – the most courageous director of our time

Rituparno Ghosh – the most courageous director of our time.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

12 National awards and many international ones tagged to his name; Rituparno Ghosh is one of India’s most proclaimed director of all times.

unishe-april-posterHe was also a writer, actor, lyricist and a brilliant television talk-show host!

His second film Unishe April won the National Award in the year 1995 and announced the arrival of a Bengali director who has bestowed himself with the responsibility of continuing the tradition of making classy Bengali films which are both intellectual and entertaining at the same time.

Not an easy task since his predecessors were globally influential stalwarts; the likes of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.   

last-lear-posterNow, if one cares to analyze the time when Rituparno Ghosh started his career (in the early 90s), evidently it was the time when Bengali Cinema was going through a tough phase.

Throughout the 80s there was this trend of commercializing Bengali films which apparently meant a desperate attempt to ape the popular Bollywood culture of elaborate songs and action sequences. And thus happened this major shift in the trend of Bengali Cinema – from the earlier artistic films to the so-called ‘commercially entertaining’ ones.

In the year 1991 Satyajit Ray won the National award for his last feature film Agantuk. By that time, apart from a handful of film-makers like Goutam GhoseAparna Sen and Buddhadev Dasgupta, the Bengali film industry was flooded with mediocre directors and their mass-pleasing movies.

badiwali-posterBengali industry was in need for someone to create a balance between the traditional arty films and the commercial ones and Rituparno Ghosh was THE director who had the courage and the capability to fill-up this vacuum!

The success of Unishe April was followed by superb films like DahanBariwaliUtsabChokher BaliRaincoatDosarAbohomaanShob Charitro KalponikNoukadubiChitrangada and many more.

More than two decades of Rituparno’s magical cinemas.

Dosar-posterIn the early phase of Rituparno’s film-making career his films mostly portrayed the middle-class Bengali families, their desires and despairs. This was probably his most successful phase as he skillfully intersected the typical average Bengali household and delicately revealed it’s secrets to us.

He worked with many talented Tollywood actors like Prasenjit ChatterjeeDebashree RoyRaima SenTota Roy ChowdhuryKonkona Sen SharmaAparna SenIndrani HaldarDipankar DeyMithun ChakrabortyChiranjitRupa GangulyMamata ShankarJishu Sengupta and others.

Raincoat-PosterThen came the phase when he would make films not only in Bengali but also in English and Hindi and his star-cast would be mostly actors and actress from Bollywood. He has worked with Aishwarya Rai BachchanSharmila TagoreNandita DasJackie ShroffAbhishek BachchanSoha Ali KhanAmitabh BachchanAjay DevgnAnnu KapoorKiron KherPreity ZintaArjun RampalDivya DuttaManisha KoiralaBipasha Basu and others.

And in the last phase of his career he mostly made films on stories that dealt with sexuality. These bold films were probably more personal to him since Rituparno himself was openly homosexual and in the last years of his life he also explored a transgender lifestyle. 

chitrangada-posterHe once said “It is for me to decide whether I will stand in the queue for men or for women or neither of the two.”

Towards the end of his career Rituparno Ghosh also acted in a few films like Aarekti Premer GolpoMemories in March and Chitrangada.

A great admirer of Rabindranath Tagore, a researcher of the epic book Mahabharata and an ardent fan of Satyajit Ray – Rituparno Ghosh, a person who loved cinema and was loved by all.

One of those rare directors whose films received the peak of both critical and commercial acclaim.

As film-maker Goutam Ghose remembered him after Rituparno’s death on 30 May 2013 – 

dahan-poster“His films, with their sensitive portrayal of human relationships, anguish, trauma and love in a fast-changing, post-liberalization India charmed audiences. His brilliant story-telling reflected contemporary society like never before. While his death creates a tremendous void that can never be filled, Rituparno’s work blazed a trail that has paved the way for an entire generation of filmmakers who have dared to be different. It was Rituparno who gave them the courage.”

A salute to the most courageous film-maker of our time.

Badshahi Angti (2014)

Written by – Abhikendu Deb Roy.

Ratings: 3/5.

They say, when you watch a film, you must never draw comparisons to the novel it has been adapted from, nor should you keep the previous installments in mind.

But, inevitably, when you hear the nostalgic tunes composed by the master Satyajit Ray himself, you are bound to get reminded of the frames from Rajasthan and Benaras as portrayed by Ray.

Director Sandip Ray is back with another adaptation of his father’s detective novel series ‘Feluda‘ with a totally new Feluda in Abir Chatterjee and a fresh face Sourav Das in Topshe, the sleuth’s nephew and stalwart partner.

It is a big challenge to fill in the shoes of Soumitra Chatterjee and Sabyasachi Chakraborty, as the famous sleuth Prodosh Chandra Mitter. Expectations were soaring high from him, but Abir is inconsistent as the private investigator.

Badshahi-angti-posterOne of the major notable characteristics of Feluda is that his eyes does the majority of the talking. Unfortunately, Abir falls short in that aspect. Feluda is a far more composed character with an amicable personality.

After the likes of Siddhartha Chatterjee, Saswata Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee and Shaheb Bhattacharjee, newcomer Saurav Das handles the role of Topshe and disappoints us to the core. He looks the part but his dialogue delivery and expressions are worth criticizing, so much so that he becomes irritating and superfluous. Topshe was clearly missed in this installment of the series.

Apart from them, the rest of the cast are worth a watch, with Paran Banerjee impressing us with his new look.

Shot vastly in Lucknow, cinematographer Sirsha Ray handles the frames nicely and brings to us the Lucknowi feel through his lens and vision. The historical monuments like the Bara Imambara looks amazing the film, but the Bhool Bhulaiyya within the Bara Imambara could have been shot in a wiser manner.

Also, the special effects look very amateurish and surely needed a better supervision. Subroto Roy manages to keep the film crisp and tight with his editing and wraps up the film within 110 minutes.

I cannot and I should not comment about the ‘Feluda Theme’ as it still gives me goosebumps, no matter how much remastered it may be. The rest of the background score by Sandip Ray is ho-hum and could have been improvised upon to make the pace of the film alive.

badshahi-angti-poster2Sandip Ray tries hard to recreate magic on screen yet again with his father’s legendary works, but he somehow cannot keep up to the expectations, specially with a newer and a weaker cast.

The script is a rip-off of the ‘Badshahi Angti’ novel by Ray. So it doesn’t really give us a chance to find flaws and it is one of the major reasons that this Christmas release may and will find takers at the box-office.

Sandip Ray keeps the suspense evolving till the last reel of the film unlike his previous installments and tries to instigate the audience to use their grey cells.

Final Verdict: There is always a sense of nostalgia when it comes to Feluda. So you might give this a watch this year-end just for the master’s story. Jatayu (read: Santosh Dutta), you were severely missed

 
 

Best Bengali Films 2012 – 2014 (10+1list)

Best Bengali Films 2012 – 2014.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

We the Bengalis! The self-proclaimed intellectuals!

We have to watch films, especially Bengali Films and then give a detailed analytical review of them. Yes, we have to!

In our infamous ‘adda’ sessions, along with politics and football we Bengalis are also keen to show off our critical knowledge of Cinema. We proudly rate our favourite movies and passionately defend our preferred directors – believe me, these loud yet friendly squabbles can go on for months!

Mostly we time travel to the memorable glorious past of Bengali Cinema – the days of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak and then coming back to the present we proudly allude to the likes of Rituparno Ghosh, Buddhadev Dasgupta, Gautam GhoseAparna Sen.

Such legendary directors and their invaluable contribution to World Cinema make us feel honoured and content, and why not?

However this current list is of more recent times, the last three years to be exact (2012 – 2014), a list of the best Bengali films from exceptionally talented directors who are very much the present and the future of Bengali Film Industry!

Let the countdown begin!

10. Ramdhonu (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV5ipEs1_zk

Ramdhanu-poster

A fun-filled story of a 5-year old kid’s struggle or rather his parent’s struggle to get him admitted in a decent school.

The director duo Shiboprosad MukherjeeNandita Roy has done it again. Brilliant acting by Shiboprosad and Gargi Roy Chowdhury.

A serious issue addressed with a comic touch. Entertaining.

9. Hrid Majhare: Live in my Heart! (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrcoSaBZsl0

Hrid-Majharey-Poster

With the perfect essence of a Shakespearean tragedy this is a film that weaves a beautiful tale of love, jealousy and destiny.

(click for the review)

Writer-director Ranjan Ghosh creates a terrific psychological drama; very well supported by Abir Chatterjee and Raima Sen.

This film will make you think twice before falling in love.

8. Hemlock Society (2012)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9KCaYzHYG0

Hemlock-Society-poster

Is there such a society that teaches the right techniques to commit suicide?!

The concept itself is unique enough and on top of that brilliant performance by Parambrata Chatterjee and Koyel Mallick.

Writer-Director Srijit Mukherji is one of the best in this business and he proves it time and again.

7. Apur Panchali (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxKylESYoa0

apur-panchali-poster

Hat’s off to Kaushik Ganguly for this brilliant theme; the film is based on the child actor who played the iconic role of Apu in Satyajit Ray’s  Pather Panchali. 

(click for the review)

Inspired by Subir Banerjee’s real life story, Parambrata ChatterjeeArdhendu Banerjee and Parno Mitra gives their best. And then the in-between montages from Pather Panchali makes us nostalgic.

6. Aparajita Tumi (2012)

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

Aparajita-Tumi-poster

Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury creates another enticing drama, a plot that involves both love and betrayal, loneliness and friendship.   

Prasenjit Chatterjee utilized to his full potential, PadmapriyaKamalinee Mukherjee perfectly suited in their respective roles. 

A slow paced film that absorbs you into the story, beautiful camera work and edited.

5. Chotuskone (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uNrGCBIgo0

chotushkone-poster

The latest from director Srijit Mukherji, a perfect mystery, four directors, four stories, all blending in at the end! 

(click for the review)

When old friends reunite and discuss their stories – four stories but with a common theme – death. Outstanding performances by Parambrata ChatterjeeChiranjitGoutam Ghose and Aparna Sen

4. Phoring (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TWCydqcJ7w

Phoring-Poster

A relatively less known film but one of the best i have recently seen.

Indranil Roychowdhury has successfully created the world of an adolescent boy, his thoughts, his dreams, his innocence and his lust. 

Both Akash Adhikari and Sohini Sarkar did great. Phoring has received many international awards  and believe me the film deserves all the applause.

3. Bhooter Bhabishyat (2012)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg7OYuc7a5I

Bhooter-bhabishyat-poster

Probably the most popular film of recent times, a superb comedy, uniquely crafted and built up.

Swastika Mukherjee, Sabyasachi ChakrabortySamadarshi DuttaMumtaz SorcarParan BanerjeeMir Afsar AliKharaj Mukherjee and many more.

A variety of characters and intelligent dialogues – director Anik Dutta gives us a super hit.

2. Shabdo (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miTB-lIAwQ4

Shobdo-poster

A professional foley artist – who creates sound effects for films seems to be too engrossed in his world of background sounds.

Not only the concept is unique but also the execution is superlative. Brilliant acting by Ritwick Chakraborty (his best till date) and also well supported by Churni Ganguly and Raima Sen.

Kaushik Ganguly‘s best till date.

1. Meghe Dhaka Tara (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT5UEzQeDGg

meghe-dhaka-tara-poster

Director Kamaleswar Mukherjee teamed up with talented actor Saswata Chatterjee to create a masterpiece; a film on the life of acclaimed Bengali film director Ritwik Ghatak.

Shot in black and white, a film so well crafted and executed, it gives us a new perspective on the life of the legendary filmmaker.

One of the best film of the last decade – a must watch!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Chitrangada (2012)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7prDTZhwA8U

chitrangada-poster

A tribute to the master director Rituparno Ghosh who unfortunately passed away last year. 

The film won the Silver Lotus Awards in the National Film Awards.  It is the story of a dancer and his wishes, his unfulfilled dreams.

Rituparno himself acted as the lead, supported by Jishu SenguptaAnjan Dutt and Dipankar Dey.