The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pujo Diaries 2017

Here's a trail of Pujo (as Durga Puja or Puja is commonly known) which was celebrated in September 2017 in Kolkata.

This pandal (marquee) in Telengabagan which is a popular puja of north Kolkata. Theme puja (Pandal and idols of goddess Durga and her four children are designed following a theme) rules these days pushing the traditional puja to sidelines. The theme of this puja was child labour.


The interior of the Telengabagan puja (below).



The themed idol of goddess and her children in the Telengabagan puja. This reflects the current trend of idols of goddess Durga and her children.



A unique Durga idol with nine hands on one side, in Shnurir Bagan puja, north Kolkata.



Kobirajbagan Sarbojonin puja with the ship-themed pandal.



A classical Durga idol. A rarity in big pujas now.



A peek into the suburbs now. The book-fair-themed pandal of Shitala Mandir Samaj, Barrackpore, in north suburbs of Kolkata.



A tribal village has been recreated in a Barrackpore puja.


A jamindar's mansion has been recreated as the pandal in a popular puja in Barrackpore.


Live human models in the above-mentioned pujo.They stayed still for hours on end.



A swan-themed pandal in a puja in Ichhapur (north suburbs).


The idol of the above-mentioned puja. There's a certain playfulness in the design.



The classical war goddess avatar of Durga which is a personal favourite. It's a rare kind of idol these days. This one is at College Sqaure puja which has been blissfully defying the trend.....thankfully.



The houses in the locality are sometimes included in the pandal design  of a theme puja. This one is at the Nalin Sarkar Street puja (north Kolkata)


An art installation on the theme of an asylum in the Nalin Sarkar Street puja.


Kumari Puja on Ashtami day is another ritual which is followed in the Ramakrishna Mission centres. A young girl is selected for worship. This one is at Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission of Barrackpore (which, though shares the same ideology, is a breakaway of the famous institution).


The roads get dressed up, too. This is Hatibagan Sarbojonin puja (north Kolkata).


I like the creativity of Hatibagan Sarbojonin and this year was no exception. The theme was 'Birds'. The design with cages and small wooden birds all around with their chirp as background music created a world of its own.





Chandelier is a tradition of puja pandals. Various pujas flaunt big, majestic chandeliers.



The Kashi Bose Lane puja (north Kolkata) was on the theme of evolution of music. The transistor radio and tape deck took back to the old times.



A small instance of the puja craze would be this. A small part of the queue for the Santosh Mitra Square puja (central Kolkata) past midnight.



Sindur Khela- the send-off ritual of the goddess on the last day- Dashami.


After the round of smearing the goddess with sindur (vermilion) is done with, it's time to do the same to each other among women (originally meant for married women).


The vermilion brings out a rare kind of feminine beauty .


'Sindur Khela' is equally popular among young and unmarried women now for its fashion quotient. Media photographers get them to pose for their 'Dashami' work.


Finally, Bhasan/ Bishorjon or biding the goddess adieu. Its immersion of the idol in the river.


Though a painful moment, bishorjon is obesrved with much fanfare. And free-flowing 'bhasan dance' to the beats of dhaak is a popular subculture.


I was lucky to witness this classical form of bishorjon. The idol is balanced on the edge of two boats and several rounds are done before the boats move away from one another.




#Puja #Pujo #DirgaPuja #DurgaPuja2017 #DurgaPujaKolkata #DurgaPujaKolkata2017


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Friday, October 06, 2017

Film review: Projapoti Biskut

What makes the premise of Projapoti Biskut interesting is Anindya’s choice of subject. A love story of two incompatible persons in an arranged marriage is fresh and brave too as it’s hard to evoke interest of audience familiar with love stories ending in marriage. This brought an amount of curiosity about his second film after the successful coming-of-age flick Open Tee Bioscope in January 2015.

It tells the story of Antor, a gawky, plain-looking, reserved young man who is the younger son of a bonedi household of old south Kolkata (Bhowanipore). Shaon, with whom he is married for more than two years is from a humble middle class family from Howrah with not-so-educated parents. The much-needed bonding is missing from their life and at a point of time under influence of family they start thinking that a child will set everything right. How their relationship evolves from this point is what the film is about.

Anindya Chattopadhyay has made a simple film weaving in a generous amount of Bangaliyana that we are sorely missing in today's Bangla cinema. The ‘Kartik phela’ (Dropping an idol of lord Kartik at the door of a home with a couple yet to have a child) is a forgotten practice these days and this film has entwined it with the storyline beautifully. The film explores a relationship without relying on a narrative style. The two families connected by marriage are chalk and cheese and this contrast has been established through various traits and situations. The characters are etched well, so is the crisis of a childless couple and the respective medical treatment. Love doesn't bloom between the introvert and indecisive husband who had had a failed relationship before marriage and the forlorn wife who feels claustrophobic in her new home. Shaon’s character is especially well-written, bringing out the two phases- firstly when she is a loner in Antor’s house, then when she decides to stay in her parents’ house and starts following her heart- equally well. She tells her husband that she was a shajano bou (puppet wife) in his family where she even lost her own name Sraboni and became Shaon at the behest of her mother-in-law who calls the shots in the family as she hadn’t found the former name classy. Antor’s character, I have felt, is straight-jacketed to some extent and his inner space, his longing for love was left rather unexplored. In fact, the unsaid mutual craving for each other hasn't reallt come through. The gem of a song Tomake bujhina priyo brilliantly sung by Chandrani fell somewhat out of place for this. Anindya has created nice moments of the other interpersonal relationships, like Shaon and her father-in-law indulging in Bengali TV soaps secretly and conversations between Shaon and Antor's niece. The film also has a generous sprinkle of Anindya’s  trademark humour and the one-liners elicit chuckle.

Source: A song from the film on YouTube

All the actors, including those in bit roles, are well cast and that has helped the director tremendously. It was very wise of director-turned-producer Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay to insist on new faces in the lead as because of that we, the audience, found the protagonists so believable. Sonali Gupta was spot on for the role of the elitist, Rabindrasangeet-devoted mother of Antor physically as well as behaviourally. Newcomer Kheya Chattopadhyay is impressive as Shaon’s friend- the free-spirited Parijaat who was her only window of life. Rajatava (Antor’s boss) has been deservingly trusted with some killer comic punches. Aparajita and Shantilal (Shaon’s parents) bring out the nuances of a couple of a lower middle class family from that side of Hooghly. Arghyakamal Mitra, Shibashis Bandopadhyay and Abhijit Guha do justice to their bit roles (The first two were pleasant surprise). The child actor playing Antor’s niece was good too and due credit goes to Anindya as it’s not easy to make children believable on screen.

Debutante Ishaa Saha shines the brightest for bringing out Shaon/Sraboni through flawless expressions in all the shades. She is a revelation in the second half.

Source: A song from the film on YouTube

Aditya Sengupta, who has acting in his genes (from mother's side), excels as the indecisive and introvert Antor in his debut act but his promise is constrained by his characterization. Given the right roles, Ishaa will go far. Aditya aspires to be a director not actor and has studied abroad for it.

Source: A song from the film on YouTube

Music is a strength of this film and all the songs, from the humorous title track to Projapoti mon that plays with the end credits are written, composed (by Shantanu Moitra, Prosen, Anindya and Anupam) and sung well. A special mention must go to Ahare mon (Written, composed and sung by Anupam) which is undoubtedly part of Anupam's best work and of course to Prosen and Ritam Sen (lyricist) for the sublime romantic track Tomake bujhina priyo which is in a league of its own.

Parts of the first half dragged as Rajatava’s comic punches and Antor’s diabetic father's secret trips to the local sweet shop kept coming back. A director needs these fillers more when the story is not progressing. Also Shantilal’s comic track turned a little predictable with time. It’s in the second half when the projapoti gets wings as Shaon and Antor follow their hearts and experiment with life.

To sum up, a simple and unusual love story which is unmistakably Bengali at heart.


#ProjapotiBiskut #BanglaCinema #BengaliCinema


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Thursday, September 07, 2017

The take on Chhaya O Chhobi

প্রিয় সিনেমাওয়ালা

আপনার ছবি দেখা স্বভাবে পরিণত হয়েছে। আর 'সিনেমাওয়ালা' ছবিটার পর আপনাকে এই নামেই ডাকি। পরাণবাবুর প্রতিভার ব‍্যাপারে ওয়াকিবহাল ছিলাম, কিন্তু ঐ পালিশ করা পুরনো সোনার ঝলকানি এর আগে যে এমনভাবে দেখিনি। সাম্প্রতিক বাংলা সিনেমার প্রতি ভরসা বাড়িয়ে দেয় অমন একটা ছবি।

এক তরুণ পরিচালক সম্প্রতি আপনার মূল্যায়ন  করেছেন, "...দারুন দারুন আইডিয়া নিয়ে কাজ করেন কিন্তু সবসময় সেই আইডিয়া থেকে ভাল গল্প বলেন না।" জানেন, 'বিসর্জন' দেখে ভাল লাগলেও সেই তৃপ্তিটা পাইনি, কিন্তু কাল 'ছায়া ও ছবি' দেখে ঐ কথাটার সাথে একমত হতেই হচ্ছে যে, সিনেমাওয়ালা। বিসর্জনেও তো দুর্বল গল্প জয়ার মত মারকাটারি ব‍্যাটসম‍্যান নিয়ে আর নিজে ব‍্যাট করে উতরে দিতে হল। আপনার মত অভিনেতা নিংসন্দেহে টালিগঞ্জে দুর্লভ।

জানি, আপনাকে জীবিকানির্বাহের জন্য বছরে দুটো ছবি করতেই হয়। কিন্তু এখন মনে হচ্ছে না করতে হলেই ভাল হত। একটাই করলে আরো যত্ন নিয়ে করতে পারতেন। এক ছবির কাজ শেষ না করেই আরেকটা ধরে ফেলতে হত না।

ভাল যা লেগেছে আগে বলে নিই। কোয়েল কেরিয়ারের সেরা কাজ করেছেন এই ছবিতে, যেটার আকাঙ্খায় ওনার এই ছবি করা। সুপারস্টার রাই চ‍্যাটার্জি আর কাকেই বা মানাত? বয়স চেহারায় ছাপ ফেলছে, কেরিয়ারের এই পর্যায়ে এসে কোয়েল আর রাইয়ের ভাবনা ঐ লাইনটায় মিলে যায়- "ছবিতো অনেক হল, এবার সিনেমা করতে চাই"। 

Source: Chhaya O Chhobi trailer on YouTube

ঋত্বিক দারুণ! উনি দলের সেরা ব‍্যাটসম‍্যান, প্রত্যাশা বেশি, আর সেটা পূরণ করার মত চরিত্রও লিখেছেন আপনি।

Source: Chhaya O Chhobi trailer on YouTube

চূর্ণী.....কি আর বলব....এই রোলটা ওনাকে মনে রেখেই লেখা বোঝাই যায়, আর মায়া হয়ে উনিও অভিনয়ের মায়াজাল বুনেছেন। বাংলা সিনেমায় ওনার মত ক্ষমতাশালী অভিনেত্রীর জন্য রোল লেখা হয়না, এটা আমাদের, দর্শকদেরই অপ্রাপ্তি।

Source: Chhaya O Chhobi trailer on YouTube

প্রিয়াঙ্কা প্রতিভাময়ী অভিনেত্রী এবং দুঃখের বিষয়, প্রায়ই ওনার ক্ষমতার চেয়ে ছোট মাপের রোলে ওনাকে ফিট করতে হয়। তবে মৌ ঠিক ওনার মাপে কাটা, তাই ঝলমল করেছেন।

Source: Chhaya O Chhobi trailer on YouTube

তবে আবির কিন্তু স্টার অরিন্দম হয়ে উঠতে পারেননি, তা সে ওনাকে যতই সুন্দর দেখাক। উনি আর আপনি দুজনেই কি ভুলে গেছিলেন যে অরিন্দম মেনস্ট্রিম ছবির স্টার, চলনেবলনে সেটাই হয়ে উঠতে হবে, খামতি হলে চলবে না? এই ছবির সংলাপ ধরেই বলতে হচ্ছে, "A star is a star is a star".....and not everybody can be a star on screen. আর আবির-কোয়েলের কেমিস্ট্রি বড়ই হতাশ করল। মানে কিছুই হলনা আর কি। অথচ ছবিটা দাঁড়ানোর জন্য ওটার বড় প্রয়োজন ছিল।

গল্পটার সম্ভাবনা ছিল, কিন্তু ঠিক দানা বেঁধে উঠলোনা।  দুটৌ গানতো একেবারেই আরোপিত। নায়িকা খামখেয়ালি হতে পারেন, তা বলে পাহাড়ি রাস্তায় চলা গাড়ির মাথায় বসে গান! গানটা সুন্দর এবং মজার, কিন্তু মনে হচ্ছিল, এটা কৌশিক গাঙ্গুলির ছবি দেখছি তো! 'ছেঁড়া ড্রইং খাতা'ও তাই। বড় ভাল গান, কিন্তু ঐ টেনশনের মূহুর্তে! 'একলা আকাশ'ও ভাল গান নিয়ে ঠিক মেনস্ট্রিম ছবির মত একটা আপোস। আর অত খারাপ একটা স্বপ্নদৃশ‍্য শেষ কবে দেখেছি মনে পড়ে না। আবার মনে হচ্ছিল, এটা সিনেমাওয়ালার ছবি!

একটা দৃশ্যে জিতু (ঋত্বিক) দুএক ঢোঁক পানের অনুমতি চাইছে রাইয়ের কাছে কারণ তার মত পাহাড়ের মানুষেরও হোটেলের বাইরেটা ভীষণ ঠান্ডা লাগছে। অথচ তাঁর জামার হাতা গোটানো। আর হাফ জ‍্যাকেট পড়ে ত়াঁর হাবভাবে ঠান্ডা বোঝা গেলনা। এরকম ডিটেলিংয়ে ফাঁক আপনার ছবিতে দেখেছি কি? ঋত্বিককে সার্চ করার মত গুরুত্বপূর্ণ দৃশ্যে কন্টিনিউটি গ‍্যাপও আছে।

বাংলা ছবিতে এখন রোম‍্যান্সের বড় অভাব, সেটা  সামান্য পূরণ করল ছবির শেষটা। এটার জন্য আপনাকে আন্তরিক ধন্যবাদ। ফ্রিজ ফ্রেমটা বহুদিন মনে থাকবে। কিন্তু শেষ ওভারে খুব ভাল ব‍্যাট করেও টার্গেটের কাছাকাছি পৌঁছনো গেলনা।

আত্মতুষ্টি পরিচালকের এবং চিত্রনাট্যকারের বড় কাঁটা। আর যেহেতু এই কাঁটা নিজের মনেই অজান্তে তৈরি হয়, একে ঠিক সময়ে চেনা সহজ নয়। এই ছবিতে ঐ কাঁটাটাই বারবার বিঁধল।

তবে আপনি অত্যন্ত বুদ্ধিমান, বিচক্ষন পরিচালক। আপনি ফর্মে ফিরতে দেরি করবেন না, সে ভরসা আছে।

ভাল থাকবেন সিনেমাওয়ালা। ভাল করে ভাববেন। পাশে আছি।

ইতি
আপনার ছবির একনিষ্ঠ এক দর্শক


#ChhayaOChhobi #KaushikGanguly #BanglaCinema #BengaliCinema #Koel #RitwickChakraborty

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Film review: Maacher Jhol

Language- Bengali
Cast- Ritwick Chakaraborty, Mamata Shankar, Sumanta Mukherjee, Paoli Dam, Sauraseni Maitra, Kaya Blocksage
Director- Pratim D Gupta
Release date: 18th August 2017

We show our love for food by shooting and posting food pictures on social media, discuss food with friends and colleagues, take pride in the identity of Bengali being a foodie community but never think of paying a fitting tribute to food in our cinema. And here, finally, we have a food film! Thanks to Pratim to start with, just for the choice of subject (See his interview to this blog here. He said a food film was brewing in him for quite some time).

Dev D is an internationally acclaimed MasterChef running his Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris. He lives in with his French girlfriend but is reluctant to commit to marriage. His mother's illness brings him to India after thirteen years and he is given a task by his mother- to cook the same 'Maacher jhol' (A light Bengali fish curry with a subtle flavour) that he had cooked for her in his teens. He devotes himself to come up with a flawless dish and learns precious life lessons in the process. Whether he succeeded in cooking the perfect 'Maacher jhol' is what the film unfolds.

What is endearing about the film is that it lives up to its name. Like 'Maacher Jhol' is a simple dish rustled up by Bengali mothers for family members (it's not a dish to treat guests to), the film follows a simple plot and stays loyal to it. There is a sub plot but that has been given only as much importance as it deserves. The dialogue has a succinct quality that's rare in today's Bangla cinema. The characters speak in our language, only as much as needed, and the message is conveyed perfectly. A sprinkle of humour at places adds flavour to the storytelling. A thumbs up to Pratim's writing and making, in that order. A good film starts with a good script, it reminds yet another time.

The setting in France (apart from Kolkata) where the film opens, has given the film a fresh and classy feel. There are a lot of French lines in the beginning and thereafter and the first eleven minutes have only French but it doesn't feel out of place because of the simplicity of the story and the Bengali and English subtitles.

Ritwick has brought out the persona of a successful professional who is a caring son and a Bengali at heart successfully. His look is apt for a simple and brilliant Bengali student from an orthodox family who ended up as a global culinary celebrity. As Dev D he exudes a quiet confidence which stands in contrast with Debdutta Sen- his younger phase when he was into a job after studying engineering to meet his father's expectations but was not liking it at all as his passion lay in cooking. Debdutta was unhappy and unsure. Ritwick has created this range of personality traits with his face, eyes and physical acting that displays the mastery of his acumen. I shall remember his gaze at his mother on the hospital bed when he saw her for the first time after thirteen years (see picture below). It explains why after working with him in Shaheb Bibi Golaam Pratim wanted to make an entire film with him.

Source: Maacher Jhol trailer on YouTube

One good thing about the film is that the protagonist is revered for his craft, but flawed as a human being. This makes Dev D all flesh and blood.  Through the film he evolves as a human being and this growth curve elevates the film.

Maacher Jhol is well cast and the actors have done complete justice in their roles. It has helped that the characters are etched out well. Perhaps only Mamata Shankar could have brought Dev's mother to life. It's a treat to watch her become such an endearing character on screen after long and justifies her admirable  body of work with important directors of Bangla cinema. Paoli (playing Dev's wife from a loveless marriage who he left to pursue his passion in France) has limited screen time but her Sreela binds the film. The growth of Dev as a human being is all thanks to her. Sumanta Mukherjee is perfect as the 'bonedi' north Kolkatan patriarch who is proud of the blue blood of the family.  Kaya Blocksage is likable as Dev's French girlfriend. Sauraseni Maitra, a newcomer in Bangla cinema, is good as chef Maggi who is the satellite to the planet called Dev D. Her gen Y vibes are spot on. She was impressive in Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo too (Read the review here). Bangla cinema is in serious need of young talent like hers.

Source: Maacher Jhol trailer on YouTube

Anupam Roy is commendable in the limited scope of just three songs (Two in the film and one playing with end credits). The Rabindrasangeet 'Je tore pagol bawle' beautifully sung by Shaheb Chattopadhyay has been applied well in the montage of Paris early in the film. 'Dawttok' is a gem of a melancholic number built around Dev's nostalgia sung by Anupam. Young DoP Subhankar Bhar is an established name in cinematography now and he has shown Paris, north Kolkata and the modern Kolkata in the right hues. I particularly liked Paris on his camera- classy but not overwhelmingly attractive. Subhajit Singha, who works with Kaushik Ganguly, has done a swell job in editing that has ensured the story is well told in a length of less than two hours (108 minutes).

Not that it doesn't have its share of blemishes. A few scenes are weak, like the drunken scene and the one of procurement of 'bori' (sun dried and fried lentil dumpling) for cooking. Also a few shots in the cooking scenes look straight out of TV ads of spice brands and appear out of place. The similar cooking shots are played again and again, so after a point they feel like stock shots and bring a monotony. This is a flaw hard to ignore in a food film. Showing the chef in action and an interaction with his assistant would perhaps have added the desired seasoning. Dev and his girlfriend are not shown getting intimate except a hug even in private. A romantic kiss in Paris where the film comes back at the end would have been the perfect freeze frame but all we are left with is a hint of it. And finally, such a nice and peppy title track in the lovely voice of Nikita Gandhi got wasted in the background play with end credits. However, these that do not take away much from the overall experience.

Overall, a simple and taut film which has 'Bangaliana' at its core. The aftertaste of the 'jhol' will last long just like mother's cooking.

#Cinema #BanglaCinema #RitwickChakraborty #Paoli #MaacherJhol

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Film Review: Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo

Language- Bengali
Cast: Sabyasachi Chakaraborty, Gargi Roychoudhury, Abir Chatterjee, Vikram Chatterjee, Sauraseni Maitra, Sayoni Ghosh, Anindya Banerjee
Director: Anik Dutta
Release date: 21st July 2017


After two social satires including the impactful debut with Bhooter Bhobishyot I was keenly waiting about Anik Dutta's third film. The genre is expectedly different.

Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo starts with famous English science fiction writer and Oxford University teacher Asimavo Bose (Sabyasachi) who is presently in his hometown Kolkata on annual vacation and is attending the launch of his latest book translated in Bengali. Asimavo's second and present wife Indrani (Gargee), who is much younger to him, is a national award-winning actress who is past her prime and now keeps herself busy with an NGO. The film takes us into Asimavo's life. He is having long meetings with Elina (Sayoni) who is the translator of his book which was launched in Kolkata and is penning down his biography. Asimavo is also writing his first novel in Bengali that revolves around some young freedom fighters of Bengal. Indrani chances upon Kunal Sen (Abir), a national award-winning filmmaker for whose film she was feted with the national award. Indrani sets up the meeting of her daughter from her first marriage- Guli (Sauraseni) who stays in Bangalore for studies and has come over to stay with her mother for a few days, with Rik (Vikram), Asimavo's son from his first marriage. So far, so good! The mystery starts as Asimavo gets the famous Michael Madhusudan Dutta book 'Meghnadbadh Kabyo' from an anonymous guest on his birthday. As we come to know, he received another copy of the book by courier sometime back in Oxford. The book received on birthday had a certain page bookmarked with a certain line highlighted. It breaks the peace and rhythm of Asimavo's life and leads to his sudden disappearance. Indrani refuses to be a mere sufferer as police investigation makes no headway and she is joined by her good friend Kunal in an attempt to unravel the mystery. As we get into it gradually, we realise that the book is a clue to a murder traced back to Asimavo's youth when he was a Naxal leader. The film is a  whodunnit herefrom leading to the solving of the mystery of the murder of the real life 'Meghnad'.

(Source: www.anandabazar.com)

I relished the unhurried pace Anik takes in developing the mystery in the first half and the whodunnit that has been crafted with a faster pace the second half. The first half was needed to be built carefully with the plot points to make the backdrop for the mystery. It's in the second half that the film picks up pace and weaves in a political angle as the plot draws from the Naxal era and establishes link with the Maoist movement of the present times.

Anik's signature pun and delightful sarcasm is peppered all over, like in this line of a retired cop to Kunal who said he wanted a make a film set in the Naxal era, "Apnaader Naxalgia konodin shesh hawbena, na?" or in the coinage 'Dhandamulawk bostubad' derived from 'Dawndomulawk bostudad'. There are witty jibes aimed at the ruling parties both at the state and the centre.

There are certain intellectual bits like a few clips of the play 'Meghnadbadh Kabya' showing Gautam Halder performing which may not go down well with a large section of the audience but the film can be enjoyed even if they are ignored.

The cast is apt and the performances are commendable. Sabyasachi is perfect as Asimavo. Gargee's Indrani becomes the perfect foil to het cerebral husband, as she basks in his fame and accomplishment. I only have reservations for Abir as I think he couldn't quite bring out the demeanour of a national award-winning filmmaker known for his brand of meaningful cinema. However, hr is good when out on the field solving the mystery. This is the first Bengali film of Sauraseni who is a model and has acted in two Hindi films including 'Chittagong'. She is impressive as the gen Y girl Guli for who the environment in her stepfather's home is alien. This is an ensemble cast and there are many actors who have been used wisely in small characters (Like Nimu Bhowmik as a retired police officer from the Naxal era).

(Source: www.anandabazar.com)

Debajyoti Mishra's musical score has been used judiciously and the handful of songs fall in place with the flow of the story. The last song brilliantly penned by Debajyoti and equally well sung by Nikhita Gandi leaves a mark and brings the story to the end. The cinematography by the ever dependable Avik Mukhopadhyay, background score and other technical departments deftly support the storytelling. I only feel the police investigation dragged a bit and could be trimmed by a few minutes.

Overall, a rich mystery to relish.

#Cinema #BanglaCinema #AnikDutta #MBR

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Friday, August 04, 2017

A chat with Pratim D Gupta

If Dev D is his Masterchef on camera, he is playing the Masterchef behind it, giving all he can to cook the perfect Maacher Jhol to please his audience later this month. Paanch Adhyay (2016)- the first outing of this long time film journalist, well known for his reviews on t2, didn't cut much ice with the audience, but his second serve Shaheb Bibi Golaam- an edgy thriller set in Kolkata- filled the theatres for weeks last year and won several Filmfare awards too. It was also a musical hit. In the thick of the post-production for Maacher Jhol nowPratim took out some time to have a chat for Kolkata Curry.

Anirban: You were known as a film journalist and film critic till 'Paanch Adhyay' happened. What got you interested in filmmaking and screenwriting which means moving to the other side of the fence?

Pratim: I always wanted to write and direct films. I used to be involved with theatre from my school days. Later I was an active member of the theatre group Komal Gandhar. I did bit roles and a lot of production work. I was also a very good student and got a very good rank in WBJEE but I chose not to become a doctor or engineer because I was always artistically inclined and didn't want to join the herd. (Maacher Jhol also deals with this.) I studied films and English and got a job in a newspaper but I always wanted to make movies. Thanks to my day job, I spent a lot of time on film sets and also watched tons and tons of movies. And then I wrote a script called Vanish which got selected in the NFDC Screenwriter's Lab. That was the start of the journey.

A: Coming to 'Maacher Jhol', it's food film as the name suggests. And that's a brand new genre. Now, Bengalis are known for their devotion for food but I don't think it has ever been really explored in our cinema. What prompted you to make a food film? Also, for those who know you, you are a big foodie. How much of your philosophy of food is there in the film?

P: It's an out-and-out food film where food is a character. I have always wanted to make one. And when we are dealing with food and us Bengalis, I was always sure it would create a new motion picture experience. Because food for us is so much more than just food... memories, culture, state of mind... Of course, there is a very interesting yarn also spun around food. But it is the food factor which makes the film unique. And I've gone really deep into food. Not just Bengali films, I think Maacher Jhol is one of a kind when it comes to food films.

Pratim D Gupta on the sets of Maacher Jhol

A: A big surprise for the audience possibly is casting Ritwick as a Masterchef based in Paris. We know of his powerful acting acumen and you've briefly spoken in the media about how he has been stereotyped in Tollygunge. But what exactly made you think him in the shoes of Dev D?

P: After Shaheb Bibi Golaam I wanted to do a full film with him because I found him phenomenal in a film with such powerhouse actors. He created a performance texture which no one could come close to. And at the same time I was thinking of doing a food film. So the two came together. I never thought a second time about whether Ritwick will be able to pull off a sophisticated character. He can do anything. And to make him look the part, I was confident I could do it. Not just Tollygunge, even Bollywood cannot think beyond certain stereotypes for certain actors. Nawaz plays the same character in every other film. That makes my job all the more challenging and I love that. No one saw Anjan Dutt like a Jimmy Luke, no one saw Swastika in a twinplay like Jaya and Shuktara and no one saw Ritwick as a Masterchef Dev D.

Ritwick Chakraborty in a still from the film

A: We, the audience, miss a screen persona like Mamata Shankar these days. Characters with the kind of sensibility she exuded on screen aren't written anymore. What made you think of her in that role?

P: She is of a different league altogether. I am really honoured that she is the Maa of Maacher Jhol. The scenes with her and Ritwick are so special, that they really hold the film together. I am actually glad that she is extremely picky about her roles and doesn't do whatever is offered to her. We feel so sad to see Soumitra Chatterjee and Madhabi Mukherjee be part of such shoddy films.

A: What's your take on using music in your cinema?

P: Shot taking and using of music are how you can really make out the craft of a director. And I take a lot of active interest in these two departments. Right background music can really uplift a scene to an unforgettable moment. That both my DoP and background music director in Shaheb Bibi Golaam were applauded from all quarters make me very happy. I've got two new partners in Maacher Jhol. Subhankar Bhar has done some incredible work with the frames and Avijit Kundu making his debut as the background music director is my surprise weapon.

A: Lastly, what has the success of 'Shaheb Bibi Golaam' taught you?

P: That my ideas and treatment are audience friendly. That Bengali cinema doesn't need to be restricted to bouts of pseudo intellectualism and unnecessary chatter. That visuals can draw young audiences. That nothing, repeat nothing, is more important than good performances in a film.


Here's wishing the audience savours the steaming hot Maacher Jhol on 18th August.


#TollyDiaries #MaacherJhol #BanglaCinema #Cinema


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Friday, July 07, 2017

An ordinary Indian wants to know

Take 2: A so-called firebrand television journalist who is a brand himself just a while back demanded to know in his talk show (now branded after his name as it is his channel now) why Hindus are being selectively targeted in Bengal under the present government citing the Basirhat incident. His pitch was high, oh so typical of him.

Really, is that the situation of the entire Bengal today? Have you got enough evidence (which you have a knack of flaunting before the camera) to back your statement?

Take 1: Same journalist, same channel. A few days ago. Now sitting a few feet away, face to face with the Chief Minister of UP. The journalist calmly demanded to know why the CM had said a few days back that 'Taj Mahal does not represent Indian culture'. The CM asked back "Tell me, what does 'Hindustan' mean?" and kept on repeating himself till the 'firebrand' journalist almost meekly answered "It does not mean the country belongs to only Hindus."

Why didn't he shut up the CM firmly (he wouldn't dare to do so remotely resembling the style in which he often shuts up/interrupts his guests on his talk show but he definitely could counter the CM in a civilized manner) and clarified that the word 'Hindustan' most certainly does not mean a country of Hindus?

What's wrong, Mr Goswami? Why is your famous voice of integrity not sometimes sounding like yours after you started your channel? An ordinary Indian citizen wants to know.

#Television #NewsChannel #EnglishNewsChannel #West Bengal #UttarPradesh #Politics

Friday, February 17, 2017

A tete-a-tete with Soumya Shankar Ghosal

An ardent lover of Kolkata like this blogger, Soumya Shankar Ghosal, a management consultant by profession and a photographer by passion, recently made our city proud when he secured the third position in ‘The 20 Most Influential Street Photographers for 2017’ list from across the world derived from a poll on the street photography website www.streethunters.net. His group Streets of Calcutta is perhaps one of the world’s largest street photography archives dedicated to one city. It was nice to engage with him in a conversation which is as follows. The photos in between are handpicked by the ace lensman from his vast body of work.


1. What does this achievement mean to you? How important is this listing?

Achievement is recognition of your efforts. However, saying so, I must reiterate the fact that achievement is not the ultimate goal. Photography is solely pursued for oneself. The next stage is sharing the joy with others. The third stage is the part of recognition. I am a self-taught photographer and didn’t have the privilege of having a master. Hence, recognition in terms of apperception is an acid test that the photograph has passed exam of sharing the joy with the viewer.

The recent listing is sincerely prestigious one. More so because the list features some of the most gifted photographers I look up to and sharing a little space with them is wonderful. I thank each and every one who felt I should be a part of the top 20 out of the 124 photographers nominated from across the world.


2. Going back to where it began. What got you hooked to street photography and when?

I photographed everything that caught my attention but slowly realized that I had developed an inclination towards Street Photography from around 2008. The street is full of surprises. Exploring the same lane at different times will offer different subjects and perspectives. Exploring streets and knowing the unknown Calcutta is always a fun learning experience.

Oh Calcutta! This is what strikes me each time I explore the city. Although, I was born and have lived in this wonderful metropolis for 36 years, I rediscover the city each time I go out on photowalks. I am never bored walking the same alleys over and over again. Calcutta is a city of diversity. Documenting the diversity helps me learn about the city better.

 




3. Tell us about Streets of Calcutta. How has the experience been so far?

Streets of Calcutta was born out of a passion to create a shared learning platform for a city-based street photography archive. The objective was to enthuse newcomers who love street photography. What started with a single individual has spread to over 20,000 across social media platforms. We don’t consider SOC as a group. Technically, you don’t need to either join or leave. As long as you love photographing Kolkata, we consider you a part of it.




The forum is quit active in terms of the number of posts on the group as well as Instagram. Apart from the offline interactions have done an online review session which had received more than 225 photos in just 1 hour.


The journey has been pretty exciting! Whatever Streets of Calcutta has achieved is because everyone took an ownership of the subject. Friends Indrajit Lahiri, Nilanjan Pathak and Ayanava Sil deserve a special mention. A special ‘Thank you’ to the brilliant photographers who have encouraged us – Mr. Debarshi Duttagupta, Ms. Lopamudra Talukdar, Mr. Bikas Das and Mr. Asis Sanyal.



4. What do you consider a significant achievement of Streets of Calcutta?

The most significant achievement is Streets of Calcutta has been able to bind together like-minded individuals to educate others about street photography. This genre is not documented much. So when the newcomers, the experienced, the good, the better and the best come together, a vast repository of knowledge is created. We believe in the power of shared learning. I am proud to say, Streets of Calcutta has been able to show street photography in a different light in its 2 years of existence.


5. You do photowalks in the city under Streets of Calcutta. What has been your most memorable photowalk experience?

Every walk is memorable. And yet, there is one walk I particularly remember since it was not about numbers but that of sheer passion for photography of my fellow enthusiasts. That was February 2015 and the walk coincided with an India-Pakistan match. And yet 41 participants turned up.

SOC conducted one of its largest photowalks in August 2015 in association with Amazon India at Shovabazar to celebrate World Photography Day. The participation was recorded at 176. Planning was vital and had to be meticulously executed to manage the big turnout efficiently. Team leads were appointed and briefed in advance and group sizes were kept at a suitable number based in the experience of the team leads. The whole program was managed efficiently with the constant support of the leads and the participants.



6. What are the plans of Streets of Calcutta this year?

We have planned a lot for everyone at SOC in 2017. The execution of the same is being worked upon. Mostly this is related to increasing the offline interactive sessions. Last year we had showcased the work of more than 60 individuals at our exhibition ‘Soul of Kolkata’ in association with ITC Sonar and Nikon. This year too we plan to go ahead with its version 2.0 but with a twist.

To check the Street Hunters list ‘‘The 20 Most Influential Street Photographers for 2017’, click here

If you wish to visit Streets of Calcutta, click here
Instagram handle of Streets of Calcutta: streetsofcalcutta
To know Soumya Shankar Ghosal better, visit his website here. 


#interview #streetphotography #StreetsOfCalcutta


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