By Urmi Khasnobish
Along with applying copious amounts of Boroline, eating tons of fish, and eagerly waiting for Durga puja, Bengalis are raised to love their heritage and culture. Cinema and literature play an integral part in keeping Bongs well-rooted in their culture.
The history of Bengali cinema dates back to the 1890s when the first ‘bioscopes’ were shown in theatres of Calcutta.
The first Bengali feature film was produced as early as 1918. Before Satyajit Ray, directors like Ritwik Ghatak began a new trend of realistic cinema, showing a new form of film-making known as parallel cinema.
Though Bengali cinema had seen its golden era during the days of Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, after them, there was a hollowness in the cinema industry thanks to cliche content and poor acting.
There was a time when the Bengali audience stopped going to theatres to watch movies until and unless directors like Rituporno Ghosh, Aparna Sen, or Goutam Ghose got hold of the steering and took Bengali cinema to a comparatively better direction.
Gradually situations changed and our NewGen directors brought a significant change in the scenario.
Though after Ray no Bengali movie has bagged an Oscar, recently some of them are being globally recognised and we Bengalis have started seeing a ray of hope again.
Let’s take a look at recent Bengali films that have helped to change the perception of the audience.
Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Antaheen i.e The Endless Wait is a critique of modern society, where some relationships are broken beyond repair and some relations are never meant to be, as connections are made virtually.
Three parallel stories run throughout the movie which talked much about urban life, complex relationships and love. Antaheen bagged the National Award for Best Film in 2009.
This biographical musical drama was based on the life and philosophy of Lalon Fakir, a noted spiritual leader, poet and folk singer of 19th Century Bengal.
Directed by Goutam Ghose, Moner Manush has been regarded as one of the finest creations of recent time and had bagged the award for best feature film at 58th National Film Award.
Directed by Anik Dutta, Bhooter Bhabishyat talked about the rapidly growing illegal construction business in Kolkata and how the life of ghosts who generally take shelter in the old abandoned houses are at risk.
This small-budget film was an over-night hit in West Bengal as people could easily connect with the storyline, which is properly aligned with the present scenario of the state.
Based on the stories of celebrated author Sirshendu Mukherjee, director Aparna Sen came up with Goynar Baksho, a horror-comedy, in the year 2013.
The film revolved around women of three generations and their lives in the changing society. The three female protagonists and their relationship with the Goynar Baksho i.e the jewellery box is the theme of the story which talked a lot about women empowerment and the bond and understanding amongst women.
The acting, witty dialogues and story-telling succeeded in winning the hearts of the audience.
Directed by Srijit Mukherji, the film has been recognized as the most awarded film in the 61st National Film Awards with 4 awards.
The main focus of music drama Jaatishwar revolves around the life and notable works of Anthony Firingee (Hensman Anthony), a 19th-century Bengali language folk poet of Portuguese origin.
The time frame of the storyline shuffles between two different time periods: the 19th century and the present day.
Sahaj Pather Gappo:
Based on a short story by the well-known writer Bibhutibhishan Bandopadhyay, Sahaj Pather Gappo or Colours of Innocence depicts the story of two brothers, Chhotu and Gopal from a poor family of a Bengali village.
Catering to topics like extreme poverty in rural Bengal, the story touched the audience deeply and won National Film Awards in the Best Child Actor Category.
Kaushik Ganguly’s Bengali outing ‘Nagarkirtan’, the love story of a trans-woman and a flutist, has won big at this year’s SAARC film festival, bagging four awards, including ‘Best Feature Film’.
The film has documented the experiences of an invisible community, rarely portrayed in the mainstream cinema. It has depicted ruthless lives and traumas of the transgender community.
If you feel Bengali cinema is all about Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Ritwik Ghatak, I would suggest that you rethink your stance, and give these new-age Bengali films a chance to steal your heart again!
Image Credits: Google Images
Find the author @UrmiKhasnobish