Today, the 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival was inaugurated. I missed the event though, being down with Slip Disk fell asleep with hot water bag. After waking up, saw the news and heard the speech of Mamata Banerjee doing same old rhetoric praising Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan . Also heard other two but sorry to say did not get the kick…
I thought of sharing a sharing a ‘nostalgic’ pic of inauguration of festival at Nazrul Mancha in late 80’s. Great Master Satyajit Ray was the chief guest of the evening while Debosree Roy was the Thali Girl.
The festival was iconic simply because it was inaugurated by none other Great Master Satyajit Ray, no festival can ever equate the moment people witnessed on that day, truely, ‘iconic’ moment. It was Ray who took a pick at then West Bengal state government and from the dias, Ray said, “there are more potholes in the street, more telephones that don’t work, more traffic jams ‘but’ …..warmth, this is why we work here or live here…”
On that day then Chief Minister Jyoti Basu was also present on the dias and did not show any hard feelings (may not have been able to eschew) not showing anger or flexing facial muscles…On the contrary chief minister Mamata Banerjee who talks so high of CInema and artistic values had put stalwarts like Mrinal Sen (the only living legends out of the trio – Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen) in blacklist for calling festival a ‘circus’ in protest against Banerjee shifting opening and closing of KIFF to Netaji Indoor Stadium…
Tributes to Mahanayak Uttam Kumar on his 37th death anniversary. Not just an actor, much more than that, the charisma simply mesmerizing. Even after so years, when he is not around, yet people simply go crazy for him still today. Whenever there is a screening of his old cinema be it at the cinema hall or TV, people would simply sit and watch and bask in the ‘nostalgia’ that Uttam babu has left behind. What surprises more is when on an average, the new generation show immense apathy and would hesitate to tell on the face that they are not ready to watch old cinema least talk about actors, Uttam babu still finds place in millions of heart of young people and it is this generation which organises programmes, debates, exhibitions and talks to commemorate the birth and death anniversary of this man who still captures heart with his smile.
On this day, I felt like sharing something which will help you to know Uttam Kumar better.
We all have heard so much about the helpful nature of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar. I had an opportunity to meet a old technician at Tollygunge (one of the studious). When he said he has seen Uttam babu, I could not stop myself from asking questions. He shared few instances but the most touching was the story that brought tears to his eyes. He said during his daughter’s wedding he had taken some money Uttam babu. He also told me that Uttam babu would never say no or show tantrums. When he managed to gather the amount and went to return to him, he said “onek boro hoye gechish na, ota raakh” (you have become very big man, keep it with you) and this man began crying, tears rolled from his eyes. He told me “dada r baan haat jantona daan haat taka diyechey, eram uni oneke diyechen, uni shotti kar r Mohanayak chilen” (dada’s left hand would not know his right hand gave money, he was like this, not just me but he helped so many people. Dada was a true Mahanayak).
I deliberately did not divulge this man’s identity, just wanted to share this incident…
Tributes to Rituparno Ghosh (Rituda) on his fourth death anniversary. Those of us who love ‘meaningful’ cinema found a breathing space in the cinema of Rituparno Ghosh. After the demise of Great Master Satyajit Ray, there was a dearth of good cinema. Rituda came into the scene with his ‘Hirer Angti (1992)’ and took all of us by storm, we were spellbound to watch his work. Though, I never found similarity between his and frames of Satyajit Ray. Infact, I can quote many instances where his ‘frames’ were very different from that of Ray, in total contrast to the philosophy of Ray’s Cinema but that is a different issue. Rituda’s works predominantly focused on ‘relationships’ (from ‘Unishey April till Chitrangada) each and every cinema has highlighted different angles, complexities of relationships.
His sudden demise in 2013 had once again created a void since there are hardly any filmmaker in Bengal who takes the pain to make cinema that will relate to his audience. In this context, I recall the famous saying by Ray who once said, “The young filmmakers think of art too much, while their audiences too little”, infact, Satyajit Ray always said that there is nothing ‘art cinema’ or ‘parallel cinema’, what exists is ‘bad cinema’ and ‘good cinema’. Not just a creative genius, but Rituda was a very emotional person. An ardent admirer of Rabindranath Tagore, he could not control his tears while describing how he had felt when a personality like Shabana Azmi during a programme had called Tagore just a poet.
Unfortunately, some people in our country prefer to judge a man or woman by sexual preferences who did not hesitate to embarrass him with stupid questions.
Those who have met Rituda even for a few minutes have felt the warmth he had and shared. I am aware of a few people who had shared wonderful debate, discussions with him, some had just banged into him casually. I had the privilege of interacting with him on facebook for sometime, we even had private chat which I have saved as its a part of archival collection. Not even once I felt out of place or alien interacting with a man like Rituda.
Today, we have so many bright filmmakers coming out from Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) but nobody has been able to fill the void left behind by Rituda…Nobody will ever be able to fulfill, miss you Rituda…
Moral policing in any form and shape is just not acceptable and must be condemned outright. Attack on Bhansali, cannot be accepted. At the same time filmmakers presenting the story by distorting facts and adding imagination to that level from where it looks more like a fiction is also not acceptable.
Since, yesterday I am watching a lot on filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali being assaulted, I have my own take on this which may not be acceptable to many especially those who admire his ‘imaginary’ works. At the outset I condemn the attack on filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali since no ‘moral policing’ is accepted, least can be supported. Besides, they were goons. However, I have no doubt that he has twisted the facts as accused by the attackers since Bhansali has been doing that in all the films.
Bhansali may be a big name in the Bollywood and many may admire his works but I have no regards for his cinema, I had my share of shock seeing Kiron Kher and Smita Jaykar dancing on the roof in Devdas. Apart from that there were so many scenes (especially Chunilal and Devdas) which were just ‘absurd’ in the film. We all have seen so many versions of Devdas, most common among them are Pramatesh Barau and Bimal Roy but I am not comparing the genius of two with that of Bhansali. I am sure those who think rational will agree that Shah Rukh Khan can never beat Dilip Kumar or Motilal with Jackie Shroff ( in my wildest dreams, I would not even dare to compare…)
I have nothing against ‘treatment’ as any fimmaker would do that since carrying out original novel in film is just impossible. Even Great Master Satyajit Ray had on many occasions discussed how he had done the treatment for ‘Pather Panchali’ or ‘Jalsaghar’ or ‘Seemabadha’. Treatment should me in such a way which should and must be within the four-walls of the novel and story, not an ‘absurd’ imagination which will go ‘overboard’. Incase of period films, the responsibility is much bigger since many will come to identify the history through his or works (since not all will or tend tend to read the history), twisting and turning facts by adding pinch of fiction is a crime.
Late Manmohan Desai was much better, I would say who did not preach to be real and always said he makes films for “entertainment” with larger than life ‘masala’ in them…