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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bangla Cinema - My favorites over the years

This is a list of 100 of my favorite Bangla films that I have had the opportunity of seeing over the years.
I would like to recommend viewing of these very films to understand and appreciate Bangla Cinema, that has undergone much evolution.
I have consciously avoided the segregation of the films into mainstream and parallel genre. However, I have tried to see that the films which appealed to me as a viewer are also of some substantial interest in general.
I am grateful for the endeavor of my dear friend Iman Bhattacharya, without whom I wouldn't have been able to rely on memory alone.

[Aishwarya Rai in 'Chokher Baali']

1) Saare Chuattor (d:Nirmal Dey, 1953)
2) Pather Panchali (d: Satyajit Ray, 1955)
3) Aparajito (d: Satyajit Ray, 1956) 

4) Saaheb Bibi Golaam (d:Kartik Chatterjee, 1956)
5) Deep Jwele Jai (d: Asit Sen, 1957) 

6) Kaabuliwalaah (d: Tapan Sinha, 1957) 
7) Ajantrik (d:Ritwik Ghatak, 1958) 
8) Jalsaghar (d: Satyajit Ray, 1958) 
9) Paras Paathar (d: Satyajit Ray, 1958)
10) Apur Sansar (d: Satyajit Ray, 1959) 
11) Baari Theke Paaliye (d: Ritwik Ghatak, 1959) 
12) Ganga (d:Rajen Tarafdar, 1959) 
13) Meghe Dhaka Tara (d: Ritwik Ghatak, 1960) 
14) Baaishey Sraabon (d: Mrinal Sen, 1960) 
15) Debi (d: Satyajit Ray,1960) 
16) Komal Gandhar (d: Ritwik Ghatak, 1961) 
17) Saptapodi (d:Ajay Kar, 1961)
18) Teen Kanya (d: Satyajit Ray, 1961) 
19) Kanchenjungha (d: Satyajit Ray, 1962) 
20) Mahanagar (d: Satyajit Ray, 1963) 
21) Saat Paake Bandha (d: Ajay Kar, 1963) 
22) Nirjan Saikate (d: Tapan Sinha, 1963) 
23) Kaancher Swarga (d: Jaatrik, 1963) 
24) Chhaya Surjya (d:ParthaPratim Chowdhury, 1963)
25) UttarFalguni (d: Asit Sen, 1963)
26) Palatak (d: Tarun Majumdar, 1963)
27) Charulata (d: Satyajit Ray, 1964)
28) Kaapurush-O-Mahapurush (d: Satyajit Ray, 1965)
29) Abhaya-O-Srikanto (d: Haridas Bhattacharya, 1965)
30) Atithi (d: Tapan Sinha, 1965)
31) Kinu Goalar Goli (d: O. C. Ganguly, 1966)
32) Golpo Holeo Sotti (d: Tapan Sinha, 1966)
33) Naayak (d: Satyajit Ray, 1966)
34) Basonto Bilap (d: Dinen Gupta, 1967)
35) Chowringhee (d: Pinaki Mukherjee, 1968) 
36) Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen (d: Satyajit Ray, 1968)
37) Aapanjan (d: Tapan Sinha, 1968)
38) Notun Paata (d: Dinen Gupta, 1969)
39) Nishipadmo (d: Arabinda Mukherjee, 1970)
40) Aranyer DinRatri (d: Satyajit Ray, 1970)
41) Nimantran (d: Tarun Majumdar, 1971)
42) Seemabaddha (d: Satyajit Ray, 1971)
43) Dhonnee Meye (d: Arabinda Mukherjee,1971) 

44) Choddobesi (d: Arabinda Mukherjee, 1971)
45) Maalyadaan (d: Ajay Kar, 1971)
46) Kuheli (d: Tarun Majumdar, 1971)
47) Calcutta-71 (d: Mrinal Sen, 1972)
48) Bilet Pherat (d: Chidananda Dasgupta, 1972)
49) BonPalashir Padabali (d: Uttam Kumar, 1973)
50) Ashani Sanket (d: Satyajit Ray,1973)
51) Sreeman Prithviraj (d: Tarun Majumdar, 1973)
52) Sonar Kella (d: Satyajit Ray, 1974)
53) Debi Choudhurani (d: Dinen Gupta, 1974)
54) Raja (d: Tapan Sinha, 1975)
55) Jana Aranya (d: Satyajit Ray, 1975)
56) Agniswar (d: Arabinda Mukherjee, 1975)
57) Datta (d: Ajay Kar, 1976)
58) Harmonium (d: Tapan Sinha, 1976)
59) Joy Baba Felunath (d: Satyajit Ray, 1978)
60) Dooratwa (d: Buddhadeb Dasgupta, 1978)
61) Neem Annapurna (d: Buddhadeb Dasgupta, 1979)
62) Noukodubi (d: Ajay Kar, 1979)
63) EkDin Pratidin (d: Mrinal Sen, 1979)
64) Baanchharamer Baagan (d: Tapan Sinha,1980) 

65) Daadar Kirti (d: Tarun Majumdar, 1980)
66) Hirak Rajar Deshe (d: Satyajit Ray, 1980)
67) Aakaler Sandhane (d: Mrinal Sen, 1980)
68) Kharij (d: Mrinal Sen, 1982)
69) Grihajuddha (d:Buddhadeb Dasgupta, 1982)
70) Phatikchaand (d: Sandip Ray,1983)
71) Konee (d: Saroj Dey, 1984) 

72) Ghare Baire (d: Satyajit Ray, 1984)
73) Mohonar Dikey (d: Biresh Chatterjee, 1984)
74) Bhalobasha Bhalobasha (d: Tarun Majumdar, 1985)
75) Chopper (d: Nabyendu Chatterjee, 1986)
76) Antarjali Jatra (d: Goutam Ghose, 1987)
77) Phera (d: Buddhadeb Dasgupta, 1988)
78) Sati (d: Aparna Sen, 1989) 

79) Parashuramer Kuthar (d:Nabyendu Chatterjee,1989)
80) Shakha Proshakha (d: Satyajit Ray,1990)
81) Agantuk (d: Satyajit Ray,1990)
82) Tahader Katha (d: Buddhadeb Dasgupta, 1992)
83) Hirer Aangti (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 1992)
84) Charachar (d: Buddhadeb Dasgupta, 1993)
85) Antareen (d: Mrinal Sen, 1993) 
86) Shwet Pathorer Thala (d: Prabhat Roy, 1994) 
87) Unishe April (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 1994) 
88) Yuganta (d: Aparna Sen,1995)
89) Daamu (d: Raja Sen, 1995)
90) Dahan (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 1998)
91) Baariwali (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 1999)
92) Paromitar Ekdin (d: Aparna Sen, 2000)
93) Dekha (d: Goutam Ghose, 2001) 

94) Mansur Mianr Ghoda (d: Nabyendu Chatterjee, 2001)
95) Utsab (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 2001) 
96) Chokher Baali (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 2004) 
97) Antarmahal (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 2005)
98) Dosar (d: Rituparno Ghosh, 2006)
99) Bibar (d: Subrata Sen, 2006) 

100) Herbert (d: Suman Mukherjee, 2006) 

[The title card of 'Pather Panchali']

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Comedy - in cinema, and on television

Comedy - as a genre - is far more difficult to execute in films or on television. Seldom does one come across quality comedies, and that's true for Bollywood or the world of Hindi Cinema too, which churns out comedies at the drop of a hat. Most of our comedy movies are crass, sub-standard and vulgar. It is a sad but true admission.
However, even in Hindi films, we have had some very good comic offerings in the past and the not so recent past. Here's looking at some of the grand comedies that I have enjoyed over the years, and only few ride the 'subtle humour' horse; some of these do make use of coarse and slapstick humour and some even walk the thin line between comedy & vulgarity. However, it is a fact that I would like to recommend these to all viewers who are interested in Hindi films and/or comedies:

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) 
Padosan (1968)
Golmaal (1979) 
Chupke Chupke (1975) 
Katha (1983) 
Angoor (1982) 
Chhoti Si Baat (1975)
Chachi 420 (1998) 
Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986) 

Hera Pheri (2000)

Half Ticket (1962) 

Shaukeen (1981) 
Andaz Apna Apna (1994) 
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) 
Munnabhai M.B.B.S. (2003) 

Masti (2004)
Kya Kool Hain Hum (2005) 

Mr Ya Miss (2005)
Hero No. 1 (1997)
Chashme Buddoor (1981) 

Bhuvan Shome (1969)
Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
Isi Ka Naam Zindagi (1992)
Duplicate (1998)
O Darling, Yeh Hai India! (1995) 

Chaalbaaz (1989) 
Manoranjan (1974)

And who can forget the silent comedy Pushpak (1988) which, though not a Bollywood product, created ripples - of laughter - all over the nation and is a favorite of comedy-lovers!

And when it comes to comedy series or sitcoms on television, the popular fare in Hindi is largely banal. But even before the inception of satellite or cable television in India, we had the good fortune of having some excellent comedy series like 'Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi', 'Dekh Bhai Dekh', and 'Idhar Udhar'. Later came some brilliant sitcoms like 'Zabaan Sambhalke', 'Mungerilaal Ke Haseen Sapne', 'Shreeman Shreemati', 'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan', 'Office Office' and 'Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai'

However, on Indian television, what has made a far greater impact in recent times are the advertisements that do become instant successes, regardless of the products or the services promoted, using the comedy genre subtly and skilfully. And the ad, or the series of ads, that come to my mind using the unique comical excesses of just one man: Aamir Khan in his multiple makeovers, using multiple regional catch-phrases, for Coca Cola.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Aamir Khan has always been distinctive. Even his harshest critics would have to agree on that for sure. He had always had a perfect Mr Clean image, till he ruffled some feathers in big bad Bollywood, and seemingly the affected or aggrieved lot included some Bid Daddies of the industry who found it extremely discomforting to be reminded of their mediocrity. The tabloids started pointing their guns at Aamir, only for their selfish interest of raking controversies, as we all know that the tabloids survive with their regular feed of filmy gossip, while Mr Aamir Khan did not oblige the gossip-mongers. It was in the latter half of the nineties that things took a major turn with the leading dailies and media-houses trying to outdo one another with a celebration of mediocrity in all fields, and with the turn of the century we also witnessed the Page3 culture and its widest ramifications in electronic and print media. Aamir Khan would more often than not be baited by the media on inconsequential matters. Like his endorsing of Coke, the cola that was accused of crossing toxicity limits; or the alleged affair with Jessica Hines, the British film journalist................ the list went on.

A man of Aamir's integrity did not play to the galleries. But he started courting controversies - as if! His personal life was shattered, his marriage to Reena, his childhood sweetheart, collapsed. Professionally, we did see him chart new history, reach new peaks. Post-Rang De Basanti, his stature was supposedly a threat to the tabloidwallahs whom he avoided like plague. He asked to be allowed to keep his private life private. Is it too much to ask for a celebrity? I wonder.

As if turning the spotlight on his second marriage (he married his one-time assistant, Kiran Rao) or on his kids was not enough. There was a political backlash from the ultra-reactionaries of Indian politics, who bayed for his blood! His crime: He spoke in favour of the distressed and the dispossessed, and made an exhibition of solidarity for the underprivileged, cutting across political doctrines or narrow selfish divides! Attempts were made with great gusto to make the Aamir Khan starrers like 'Fanaa' and 'Taare Zameen Par' bite the dust....... but such attempts were unsuccessful! Aamir's blog that helps him connect with his audience, minus any intemediaries, have also come under the scanner very often. Just because he is candid, and does not bend backwards to pressurising of any kind, and that he stands by his convictions and righteous beliefs.

Now the overblown spat between ShahRukh Khan and Aamir is has become the latest hot issue to be banked upon by the media. Aamir Khan may be best known as Bollywood's Mr Perfectionist but of late he has been given the tag of Mr Competitive. And it all started with a rather jovial quote: "Well what can I say Shah Rukh always likes to be in the second position," Aamir has been quoted saying. Thereafter, when asked if he had a chance to interview Shah Rukh Khan what will his first question be, Aamir reportedly threw back, "Thats a tricky question. I would ask Shah Rukh how does it feel to be second after Aamir?" Is it really a grave comment on his fellow actor's calibre? I won't say so. I am sure most will agree with me on that. He would never stoopp so low to downplay others' merits. He even did not do it to his detractors, why would he do it to ShahRukh, who has been 'a good friend'?

Maybe the wind would soon blow over. Egos are as large in Bollywood as the lavish multi-crore productions themselves. And the egos are bruised too often - sometimes the burns and the bruises are carried to the grave, but mostly they heal too soon with just a clarification or two........ and as a true admirer of Aamir, I hope for the latter. Earnestly.

I am praying for the triumph of the winsome hero! Aamiriaana will surely be the winner all the way!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aamir Khan!

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!
Aamir (born on March 14, 1965) was first introduced as a child artiste in the film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). However, he did not act in umpteen films like many of the child artistes are known to do. Aamir went on to become the state tennis champion for Maharashtra. Aamir also fell in love with Reena, the girl next door, in the meantime. He proposed to her the day he turned 21, and she accepted. But apparently, there was opposition since she was from a Hindu family and he, from a devout Islamic one. So, they eloped, got married and returned to their homes. Aamir's first film as solo hero was 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak' after which he never had to look back. He became a phenomenal success with that launchpad of a film. But from there he has come a long way too. From an actor who blossomed with youthful romances, he came of age and came into reckoning with sterling performances and has eventually evolved into a responsible maker and a creative visionary.

Filmography (courtesy http://www.imdb.com/)
Aamir Khan is that rare actor of Indian cinema who is as big a star as he is an acclaimed actor, who has garnered even international recognition. Here's looking at the films that he has acted in, given alongside each film title are the year of release, name of the character played, and alternative title (if any):

Taare Zameen Par (2007) .... Ram Shankar Nikumbh... aka Stars on Earth (International: English title)
Fanaa (2006) .... Rehan Qadri/Rehan Khan/Capt. Rajvir Singh
Rang De Basanti (2006) .... DJ / Chandrashekhar Azad... aka Paint It Yellow (International: English title)
The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey (2005) .... Sepoy Mangal Pandey... aka Mangal Pandey (India: Hindi title) ... aka Mangal Pandey: The Rising (India: English title)
Dil Chahta Hai (2001) .... Akash Malhotra... aka Do Your Thing (USA: TV title)
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001) .... Bhuvan... aka Lagaan (India: Hindi title: short title) ... aka Land Tax (International: English title: informal literal title)
Mela (2000) .... Kishan Pyare
Mann (1999) .... Karan Dev Singh
Sarfarosh (1999) .... Ajay Singh Rathod
Earth (1998) .... Dil Navaz, the Ice Candy Man... aka 1947: Earth (India: English title: alternative title) ... aka Terre (Canada: French title)
Ghulam (1998) .... Siddharth Marathe
Ishq (1997) .... Raja... aka Romance (India: English title: literal title)
Raja Hindustani (1996) .... Raja Hindustani
Rangeela (1995) .... Munna... aka Full of Colour (USA: TV title)
Aatank Hi Aatank (1995) .... Rohan
Baazi (1995) .... Inspector Amar Damjee
Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995) .... Rohit Kumar
Andaz Apna Apna (1994) (as Aamir Khhhan) .... Amar Manohar
Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993) .... Rahul Malhotra... aka We Are Travellers on the Path of Love
Parampara (1993) .... Ranvir Prithvi Singh... aka Tradition
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) .... Sanjaylal Sharma
Sahebzaade (1992)
Daulat Ki Jung (1992) .... Rajesh Chaudhry
Isi Ka Naam Zindagi (1992) .... Chotu
Afsana Pyar Ka (1991) .... Raj
Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin (1991) .... Raghu Jetley... aka The Heart Refuses to Listen
Dil (1990) .... Raja
Tum Mere Ho (1990) .... Shiva
Awwal Number (1990) .... Sunny... aka First Rank
Deewana Mujh Sa Nahin (1990) .... Ajay Sharma... aka Diwana Mujhsa Nahin (India: Hindi title: alternative transliteration)
Jawani Zindabad (1990) .... Shashi Sharma
Love Love Love (1989) .... Amit Verma
Raakh (1989) .... Amir Hussein
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) .... Raj
Holi (1984) .... Madan Sharma... aka The Festival of Fire
Madhosh (1974) .... Child artist
Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973) (as Master Aamir) .... Young Ratan

Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's That Time of the Year Again.......!!!!!

It is that time of the year again...... the time to celebrate the best films - as the Oscars are given out - essentially it is the muscle flexing of Hollywood, but for us movie-buffs it is also a chance to see some of the acclaimed films that might not have been seen in theaters had it not been for the promotional mechanism going great guns worldwide.

Unlike previous years, here in Kolkata, the lure of big Hollywood releases has dwindled in a major way. Many of the biggies have been biting the dust at the multiplexes of Kolkata in the recent times.
There are many factors - the principal amongst being is the erosion of single screen clout in niche pockets. The multiplex-going audience watches the latest Hollywood blockbusters many months before their big screen release in Kolkata, and hence people can hardly be expected to queue up for the ones that do get released at long last. The distributor chains are thus reluctant to release or promote English-language films in Kolkata. And the trend and culture of watching good English-language films at the theaters is on the wane. Unless a franchise film like 'Spiderman' or 'Harry Potter', with a cross-market appeal, is released, we Kolkatans have to look forward to watching good films on Home VCDs and DVDs only!
I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to watch some of the Oscar favorites in February, the Oscar-month, itself!

And here's the report card: 'Atonement' is the one that I enjoyed most. It is a profound period love story that resonated every which way. 'Michael Clayton' is remarkably poised in its anti-Capitalist stance; very humane, very brave, and very eloquent. 'Eastern Promises' is a shocker of a film for more reasons than one; however, it isn't as effective as Cronenberg's earlier indictment of Americana ('A History of Violence'), but immensely watchable (strictly 'not for all') for the gritty depiction of brute force. 'No Country For Old Men' - which won the top honors at the 80the Oscar Awards - has been a huge letdown for me, I would have liked the film better had not been so grossly overrated; the Coen Brothers have made far better films in the past that are less indulgent and less pretentious, 'Fargo' being the very best. There was yet another surprise, and this one was pleasant, in the form of the Disney offering called 'Enchanted'; nominated for the beautiful songs, which keep ringing in one's ears long after the end credits have scrolled, it is a treat for the entire family. The tongue-in-cheek allusions to the classic fairy tales being firmly planted, the joyous celebration of romance in 'Enchanted' is very very infectious (as the sweet chipmunk Pip seems to be pointing out in the picture on top), to say the least.
'No Country For Old Men'