Showing posts from September, 2014

Teen Bhubaner Pare

Along with Saat Pake Bandha  and Pratham Kadam Phool , Teen Bhubaner Pare  makes a trilogy of 1960s films with Soumitra Chatterjee about a young couple who should have paid more attention to the red flags that popped up before they married. Saat Pake Bandha is the best of these films, combining the most interesting script with the most complex performances, and it's also the strongest statement about the risks of committing to someone with whom you do not share understanding and support (or even attempts at those things). Pratham Kadam Phool  is the weakest: a snobby, unrealistic heroine with a suspicious, mama's boy hero and an uneasy final scene that indicates no real resolution of the problems in their relationship. Teen Bhubaner Pare  is the story of Montu (formal name: Subir) (Soumitra Chatterjee) and Saroshi (Tanuja), who live on the same street but represent opposite sides of the tracks. His family is struggling, especially his next closest brother, and when not at

Agni Pariksha and Chhoti Si Mulaqat

[Spoilers.] Unlike Akash Kusum (1965)/ Manzil (1979) , a Bengali/Hindi remake pair with an interesting story told with thought and experimentation, the  Agni Pariksha / Chhoti Si Mulaqt pair is a steaming pile of mind-boggling decisions. Made over a dozen years apart (1954 and 1967), the basic story travels from one industry to another and takes the leading man and several visual details along for the ride. Don't get me started. My takeaways from Agni Pariksha are: 1) Kiriti, a gentle and calm man (Uttam Kumar), gently and calmly loves Tapasi, a confident and bold woman (Suchitra Sen), even as her traumatic memories threaten their relationship, and 2) this story is primarily about Tapasi and her ethical turmoil and the performance of it by Suchitra Sen. Uttam Kuamr is in the film, but it absolutely belongs to her. In  Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation , Sharmistha Gooptu talks about this film in particular balancing its native audience's desire for both

one-a-decade mini reviews

Think of this as a very poorly organized survey course in Indian cinema studies. Bou Thakuranir Haat  1953 A young Uttam Kumar, only a few years into his career, wears a lot of sixteenth-century frippery and tries to protect the aging Pahari Sanyal from machinations from a more sinister member of their royal family who also wants to throw off the Mughals. This film comes from a Rabindranath Tagore work [drink!], itself based on real events in the life of a contemporary King of Jessore, Pratapaditya. To be honest, I was very confused through most of this film, I hope because I've never heard of any of these people before and had only a tiny sense of their historical context. I do get the sense that Bou Thakuranir Haat  is less interested in the trappings that usually go into historical epics and more in showing the individual lives and human-scale factors and effects of political turmoil. Instead of swamping everything in miles of fabric and clanking armor, director Naresh Mi

Chaowa Pawa and Jay Jayanti

Doing some research on Indian remakes of foreign films while also spelunking through the filmography of Uttam Kumar has recently led me to two delightful Bengali films based on American classics: Chaowa Pawa , which is one of at least six Indian remakes of It Happened One Night , and Jay Jayanti , one of at least three South Asian remakes of The Sound of Music.* Both of these posts contain spoilers if you aren't familiar with the plots of the original films. Chaowa Pawa 1959 This film opens with Suchitra Sen (Manju, the Claudette Colbert equivalent) in capri pants and pigtails chucking porcelain around the room (so, the least dignified I've ever seen her), quickly jumps to reporter Uttam Kumar (Rajat, the Clark Gable equivalent, looking super handsome in his rolled-up shirtsleeves) having his hardy ego bashed in by his editor (who just happens to be her father)   (Chhabi Biswas), and doesn't let up in energy or emotion until the very end. The conflict stemming f