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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ani and Bonnie: Feasting on Bangla Cinema

It has been quite sometime that I have had an extensive chat with Bonnie which I felt like incorporating here, to share with my readers. Incidentally, just the other day Bonnie initiated a conversation that centered around Bangla films. For obvious reasons, the chat cannot be reproduced in entirety, but I have kept much of our original conversation that focused on some of the recent films.
Bonnie: You have been ecstatic after watching 'Shabdo', do you think it is the best film in these few years that Bangla cinema has been witnessing a resurgence of sorts?
Ani: Well, it is one of the best films for sure......
Bonnie: And you liked it more than 'Goynar Baksho' which has also released on the same day, and both being termed Poila Baisakh attractions?
Ani: You know, I do not believe in comparisons like that especially when two films are so difficult in terms of content and treatment......
Bonnie: Yes, they are different.....
Ani: And in appeal as well. 'Shabdo' is for the serious viewer, it's a bit classy, if I may say so.
Bonnie: I found 'Shabdo' to be really powerful, the way it makes a cinematic statement.....
Ani: I loved everything about it, right from the subject to the cast, and the handling of sound itself...... fabulous!
Bonnie: Okay, now what about dropping a few words about 'Goynar Baksho'?
Ani: 'Goynar Baksho' has been Aparna Sen's pet project that has been written and speculated about for quite some time. I have already said that it is a lovely transcreation of magic realism that is largely a success in the print format only. The nuances and the multi-layered treatment supersede the basic plot-points and make a feminist statement that Aparna Sen has effectively communicated in the best of her films. I am happy to note that the film is much better than the director's last offering, 'Iti Mrinalini'.
Bonnie: 'Iti Mrinalini' can at best be called pretentious and disappointing. Especially because of the universally appealing film by the same director prior to it..... 'The Japanese Wife'.
Ani: Many had started complaining that eminent directors like Aparna Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Gautam Ghose had become too repetitive and complacent.
Bonnie: I think the market dynamics are to blame as well.
Ani: Well, the truly creative makers should always rise to the occasion....... after all, they make films to communicate, to assert, and to connect. Their quality work is also an affirmation of cinema itself.
Bonnie: Look at the next generation of so-called serious or creative filmmakers like Anjan Dutt and Rituparno Ghosh, there is an over-indulgence that has been drowning their content.
Ani: I loved Anjan Dutt's 'Dutta vs Dutta', but I am indifferent to his Byomkesh films, which strike gold commercially.
Bonnie: Ditto for Sandip Ray's recent films which have been decent earners at the box-office but I'd rather not talk about them. I believe he is too good a filmmaker (and drawing a comparison with Satyajit Ray would be just pointless) to be doing mediocre Feluda films, or other thrillers.
Ani: I agree. What particular aspect of the spate of Bangla films do you like most, other than the simple fact that more and more people are watching them, many of them are giving stiff competition to Hindi films, the typical Bollywood products, in the theaters?
Bonnie: I am loving the variety.......
Ani: And it is a very recent phenomenon at that......
Bonnie: Yes, we have serious cinema, mainstream films, middle of the road entertainers......
Ani: We have romances, comedies, romantic comedies, actioners and dramatic films..... all viewed by the same range of viewers, some times they create a favorable buzz that generates more footfalls in the theaters.
Bonnie: The multiplexes too can't ignore the potential of a Bangla film with a saleable cast or with an interesting story, the showtimes allotted to Bangla films have hence multiplied.
Ani: True, but still the step-motherly treatment continues at places, there are tales of the air-conditioner being switched off during Bangla film screenings and some such horrors that one may come across online.
Bonnie: Oh no! That's ridiculous! We, viewers, cannot be taken for granted, Ani!
Ani: I know, but you have to accept that regional films are regional films, and unless we have a nationwide consciousness and urge to promote the regional fare, films made in many regional languages have to brave the biases and bite back with our content's edge.
Bonnie: What about the umpteen hits from down south (essentially Telugu and Tamil) that get remade in Bangla? Haven't they lost their sheen?
Ani: Yes, and no. Remember, it is the prerogative of certain production houses, and not based on a particular demand for Telugu/Tamil movies. Some of the remakes have failed to become box-office wonders that they were supposed to become, but a few have not done too badly. Personally, I am unimpressed by most, some wonder how I manage to sit through them....... hahaa.......
Bonnie: It's simply because you are a movie-junkie, what else?
Ani: I hate it when the dramatic potential fails to be reworked by means of a good script or a solid execution..... but I felt satisfied after seeing 'Bojhena Se Bojhena' which did justice to the original's high-end emotions. The songs were good too.
Bonnie: That brings us to the topic of soundtracks of Bangla films, recently they are a rage......
Ani: That has been happening for quite some time, it works both ways, the film's success is often guaranteed by the good songs and at other times the songs get an extra mileage because of being part of an interesting film, or even a potboiler.
Bonnie: People love dancing to the tunes as much as dancing has become a staple ingredient in the masala films.......
Ani: The gloss, the polish and the technical competence have ensured that the indigenous products do not look as bad as they used to a decade or two ago, when they were considered pale copies or poor man's entertainers. I am hopeful that the copy-paste jobs would themselves go extinct in the not so distant future.
Bonnie: Would that make room for the truly creative people in the industry, all the more?
Ani: Being a game-changer is not the cup-of-tea for most of us, I'm afraid.
...... As a quick wrap-up, let us name some of the other recent films that we liked.
Bonnie: Right. I liked 'Tawbe Taai Hok' for its daring to be poetic, 'Hawa Bodol' for its bringing in a lot of spirited moments that one can laugh and chuckle to, in the company of friends.......
Ani: I liked two other new-age zany romances, 'Maachh, Mishti & More' and 'Baapi Baari Ja'.
Bonnie: And as much as I felt sorry for the situational comedy 'Damadol' - it tries too hard, and falls flat - I loved 'Kidnapper' for delivering exactly what it attempted to deliver.
Tell me who are the fresh talents who excite you or who you would be backing in the future.
Ani: Film-making is an art that does not guarantee successes beforehand, one's previous works cannot be a guarantee to one's future success or consistency...... there are filmmakers who have time and again delivered and have thus lived up to the promise, I am not into names-dropping, and are hence considered viable or bankable......
Bonnie: And, it should be said that bankability of the kind you are referring to can only guarantee financial backing for their forthcoming projects; it is too expensive a craft, despite the promise of a greater reach, what with even solid suggestions to integrate the markets both in India and Bangladesh; making films is not a mean job, eh?
Ani: True. We can only be hopeful, we need to exploit - not in a negative sense though - the buoyant spirit that seems to boost film-viewing. At least, we can do our bit to promote fresh ideas, fresh talents, and most importantly good cinema. I always say, that one should watch Bangla films; one might even engage with friends and fellow enthusiasts in a bit of harsh talk, pan or praise, what the heck, but do make films thrive!
May the coming months bring a whiff of fresh air as we keep feasting on Bangla cinema.
'Tawbe Taai Hok'

'Goynar Baksho'

'Hawa Bodol'

'Maachh, Mishti & More'

'Baapi Baari Ja'


'Bojhena Se Bojhena'

'Dutta vs Dutta'


Krishh said...

Impressive. Most of the new releases are seen by me so I thoroughly agree with the take that the new-age Bangla films have become more appealing. I love the wide range of themes in these films; I like being challenged by the fresh content. Even mature themes are dealt with, in many of these films, with sensitivity and finesse.

Miimzo said...

Many new directors have joined the fray, wish you had talked about them extensively.
Sadly, they all do not have a newness in their films, often they have nothing fresh to contribute...... same old, same old. Yet some of them do strive against the odds and try to survive on their own terms. We should wholeheartedly encourage these brave, passionate souls.

raj said...

I loved Baapi Baari Ja - it is one of the coolest coming-of-age films! And Maachh, Mishti and More simply rocked because of the ensemble cast and the cool songs.
But it is films like Icche, Muktodhara and Accident and their success which makes the director duo Nandita and Siboprasad the coolest filmmakers in Bengal right now, according to me. They seem to understand the audience pulse yet have been consistently serving meaningful fare.

Arunima said...

I loved reading the conversation! :) Unfortunately I have seen only one film among the ones that have captivated Ani and Bonnie and I totally blame Bangalore's seeming apathy towards the Bong cine goers for the same! There is a huge population of Bengalies in Bangalore, but somehow when it comes to regional movies, Bangla movies are such a rare fare!