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Showing posts from June, 2014

Harano Sur

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This movie is insane, but I'm on board. I'm on board, but this movie is insane. You know what I mean? It's insane because of its plot, an extreme version of stalking=love, its creepiness and ethics violations hidden by a white lab coat and the contemporary audience's indulgence of all things Suchitra Sen-Uttam Kumar. Psychiatrist Roma (Suchitra) quits her hospital job over a disagreement with a more senior doctor (Utpal Dutt) about how to treat an amnesiac (Alok) (Uttam), then takes the amnesiac to live with her at her father's house, and marries him as his health continues to improve. THIS IS SO WRONG. When he has another accident and reverts to his first self, losing his second set of memories that contains their life together, she follows him to Calcutta and figures out a way to stay present in his life and reconcile these two phases of his identity. From a twenty-first century perspective, one of the things that stands out about Harano Sur  is

The Royal Bengal Tiger

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Caveat: my familiarity with current Bengali cinema is limited and not well researched. I'm presenting my honest reaction and opinions, but please know that I am aware they are not supported by a lot of actual knowledge. Also, I watched this without subtitles (but with a native Bengali speaker). Further caveat: I figured out within about two minutes that this is in essence a remake of a Hindi film I saw a few years ago (and of other sources too—and I'll put a further quick note on that at the very bottom of this post after the footnotes), which is why this piece will be vague in parts.  Even though my heart belongs to Calcutta in the 60s, I try to pay a little attention to new Bengali movies, more out of curiosity and an academic interest in the shape of the industry as a whole rather than particular affection for its current products.  The Royal Bengal Tiger  caught my eye because of its odd-couple lead pair: Abir Chatterjee (if you do not watch Bengali movies, you might

Bombay Talkies

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The idea of bringing together four sort of dissimilar yet still big-name directors to tell stories about the power of cinema in honor of Hindi cinema's centennial is such a good one. The component films by Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap (which play in that order) are strongest when they stick to that mission of celebrating the magic, both light and dark, of movies. Imagination, passion, talent, family, promises, dreams—and, I think very significantly, the decision to act on those things—are all depicted thoughtfully and compassionately. There is support and empathy for small-scale individuals, which is an unusual offering from an industry known for bombast and family or community values. People make difficult decisions that we suspect will have un-filmi outcomes, some of which are even depicted bluntly. A streak of resignation runs throughout the four stories, with characters realizing and largely accepting that life is not always like the movies.