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Ritwik Ghatak-one world class filmmaker
Ritwik Ghatak - an artist who exerted a profound influence on the modern Indian cinema but who was critically recognized abroad only after his untimely death in 1975. A native of East Bengal, Ghatak was shattered by the partition of that "orphan state" (later to become Bangladesh), and his stories and images are permeated with the personal urgency he felt for the people whose lives and culture were irreparably ruptured.
Yet his films also have a vital, regenerative power, fed by the artist's insatiable intelligence and his skillful integration of popular forms of culture - melodrama, songs, and dance - into politically radical themes. His major influence was Eisenstein, and he said, "I have wanted to use the cinema as a weapon". But if he shocks, he does so with photography that is thought made visible, editing that turns melodrama into a form of music, and music that tells its own bold and surprising story.
Through his films and his short tenure at the Film Institute in Pune, Ghatak influenced a generation of filmmakers including Kumar Sahani, Mani Kaul, Ketan Mehta, and Adoor Gopalakrishnan - names that today are synonymous with the Indian art film. Ghatak was a complex man who was much loved by his students but was viewed by the film establishment as an eccentric iconoclast; he died a chronic alcoholic at the age of 49.
it is shame thsat no one is willing to talk about world cinema here. what is the point of having world cinema section in this forum?
various world cinema reviews by movielover
Mithunís master act in Mrinalís masterpiece
Writer and Director: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Mithun Chakraborty and Mamta Shanker
Language: English, Hindi and Urdu [fascinating]
Rating: A genuine masterpiece
Awards: All the national awards plus a lot of international awards
This is a testament to the great talent of Mrinal Sen and Mithun, who is the only actor in the history of Indian cinema to win the laurels [national and international awards] in his debut act.
It is indeed a sheer pleasure to see him play a fearless young tribal man, proud and noble, exuding raw energy in every frame in a simple langooti [loincloth].
He is the son of the local village headman, somewhere in the mountains of north-eastern India. In the last days of British Raaj, who loves a local young woman [Mamta], she happens to be abducted by a local money lender, in lieu for the debt of ten rupees owed by her father to the Mahajan, who is the local equivalent of shylock,
except this man holds nothing sacred, whether a human life or a womanís virtue, he violates every code of ethics, in one scene where a child is eaten by a tiger he consoles the bereaving family by telling them at least they have one less mouth to feed.
So begins the Royal Hunt [Mrigaya], a proud warrior on a quest alone against a corrupt system, a solo young man in search of justice even if it has to be self acquired and a landmark in world cinema.
I say so because the remarkable similarities between this movie and Apocalypto are too many to be coincidental, only Mel Gibson has not given any comments on his inspiration.
The character of the hunter who is also the quarry is a unique portrayal by Mithun, his eyes glowing like fireballs set against his darkly handsome countenance with his superb physique, and he looks more like a jaguar on the hunt which is indeed royal by any comparison.
The subplot of his brief friendship with the local Anglo administrator who befriends him and becomes his ardent admirer in respect of his unique hunting talent is a very relevant comet on the colonisation of India and the evils and benefits we derived from that experience. The sympathetic English woman who plays the wife of the commissioner is a symbol for the virtues the British brought to India along with the corruptions as well.
The setting is natural, no sets are erected, and itís the adivasi village and the colonial mansion and the forest which is the playground for this master class in how to direct an entertaining movie on a shoestring budget.
The symbolic white costumes reflect the purity of the two main characters, as does the rest of the simple yet totally relevant wardrobe used in the movie, the whites contrast brilliantly with the beautiful black Dravidians bodies of Mithun and Mamta, a tribute to the natives of the sub-continent.
The cinematographer is superb in the manner he conveys the calm and quiet, yet the frenzy of the climax, the movie is shot in various techniques, maybe one of the first movies in India where the camera is being handheld to convey the feelings and experiences of the characters directly to the audience.
The luscious greens of the tea estates and the rocky terrain alternatively help to build the mood of the movie from a soft core to a terrifying climax; the landscape plays a vital role in storytelling.
The background musical score is authentically ethnic as is the movie with tribal women chanting in local dialect melodiously while reaping the harvest or the simple tabla playing in frenzy in the chase sequences culminating in a frantic mood.
The director is brilliant, to say the least, every sequence is meticulously planned and the brilliant scene in the colonial compound where the triumvirate of the English, the old Muslim guardsman and Mithun talk about the remains of a human skull dig out from the grounds reflecting on the vanity of human existence is uniquely executed in English, Urdu and Hindi languages, symbolising the rich culture of the paradox that India is, and yet Mrinal Sen doesnít betray his characters or the audience into sentimentality or unnecessary violent gore, a tribute to his aesthetic sense and to his cinematic genius.
He succeeds in making a master thriller without any stuntmen or special effects, a lesson for todayís filmmakers who have turned our cinema into a circus, Mithun has done all his stunts from the archery and the bare hand fights by himself in an extraordinary manner, unique to this actor in an action thriller, the sequence where he chases and captures the deer is proof enough.
But then the final accolade goes to Mithun in a role he was born to play, he symbolises India itself, raped, pillaged and exploited yet defiant and proud and eternal, blessed with the soul of a martyr yet humane enough to break the chains that try to bind it from time to time.
They say every true artist is born to do one solo act that justifies their god given talent, Mithun is indeed blessed he found his dream come true in his debut role,
he is a spontaneously natural actor and doesnít need the help of Methodism, he was perfectly cast and delivered more then required in this Indian masterpiece, there arenít enough adjectives in English language to praise this performance, in a simple loincloth, his eyes doing most of the talking and his superb body language expressed by his perfectly athletic frame, he is stunning.
Mamta with her innocent looks and simple beauty devoid of any makeup matches him all the way; she too wears the same costume throughout the movie.
The movie was made at a time when glamour was the order of the day in Hindi cinema, yet this artful but effortless simplicity was a slap in the face for the makers who were exploiting and still are the simple audience by cheap gimmicks and melodrama.
If you take your cinema seriously and havenít seen this movie you arenít seen anything yet.
Review writer: Usman Khawaja
Last edited by Kiba.; 01-03-2011 at 03:28 PM.
Gudia (A Triumphant Doll)
A Triumphant Doll
OFFICIAL SELECTION CANNES COMPETITION 1998
Cast: Pran, Mithun Chakraborty, Nandana Sen
Director: Goutam ghose
Duration: 140 minutes
Review writer: Usman Kahwaja
This forgotten gem from Indian cinema was a worthy tribute dedicated to ray by its maker, it works as a political satire but above all itís an emotional drama which captivates you with its trivial details.
It is also the last great performance by Pran as khan sahib, the great legend who is one of the most versatile actors on Indian screen, along with the great Mithun, playing the central character as Johnny, this subversive political satire becomes an un-miss able movie in every context.
It will be an understatement to say sparks fly when the two great actors rub shoulder on screen, the chemistry between the duo is scintillating, to say the least and they are perfectly cast as an aging Muslim pathan ventriloquist and a young angry man who comes to be his pupil, learning the trade from the master who has devised a giant sized puppet doll as a showcase for passing satirical comments on politics and religion.
This seems to be inspired by real life theatrical events from Mumbai where the Parsi community used to perform these kind of plays and it seems they were very popular at one time as well, I donít know the details however the puppet is dressed and acts like a chaste young Muslim girl, dressed in virginal white and seems to be a cultural symbol singing ghazals and acting as an Umrao Jaan, its delightful to see it sing and dance as well as mock the society in a subtle way.
The artist who has invented the doll is dying of a terminal illness and bequeaths his cherished puppet to Mithun, who becomes obsessed with the Gudia, so much so that his girlfriend starts feeling neglected and jealous of the doll, the sequences where Nandana Sen tries to adopt the look of the doll act like her to get more attention from her boyfriend are very gripping yet essentially reflect on the feminine nature.
The doll assumes a real identity thanks to the masterful script and the directors skills and its fascinating to see Pran and Mithun adorably dressing her and decorating her to make her look more beautiful then ever and her mannerisms and the lines she utters are charming, yet devastatingly satirical of our social and political system, Johnny reinvents the doll with modern clothes and pop music to attract an audience and his efforts pay off in a big way..
Nevertheless the act gets very real with Mithun in charge and the local politicians are alarmed by the popularity and start seeing it as a threat to their ambitions, as the doll questions the political morality of our system and her remarks start to stir popular unrest amongst the ordinary people, it almost starts a rebellion.
This is not acceptable to the beaurucracy and as Mithun turns down their bribes to tone down the show they instigate a riot with the help of some local gangsters where the doll is symbolically stripped and raped, while Mithun and the audience are beaten mercilessly, the shameless act while comprising the climax is so relevant to our prevalent culture where nothing except naked greed is sacred.
The scenes where Mithun is shown holding the desecrated doll and weeping are memorable as are the dialogues and expressions of this great actor in that sequence alone.
I wonder why despite movies like Mrigaya and Gudia, Mithun never got the acclaim he deserved from Hindi cinema, indeed this movie is proof enough that his second to no one else.
The direction, makeup and background score help to make this a haunting experience and the camerawork with the giant doll and the ventriloquistic details is a triumph in itself, a difficult act to accomplish but made to look seamlessly natural ,thanks to the cast and crew
This is essential viewing for all who enjoy meaningful well made cinema which is entertaining as well as realistic, a virtue fast disappearing from cinema world over
The movie was deserved acclaimed at festivals world over and is a cult classic.
Rating: * * * * *
Khawaja Ahmed Abbas
An authentic Auteur or an Altruistic Agitator?
(A brief Introduction of Filmmaker)
K. A .Abbas was possibly the most definitive and progressive activist in Indian literature and cinema. He is an intellectual who tries to redeem and solve a paradox without making a crucial issue into pseudo intellectual paradigm, his personal life akin to his public profile is affiliated with his passion for his causes versus the eponymous vitriolic opposition of his critics.
He was immensely talented, a true altruist and even his socialist themes are euphemisms for common sufferings. He made some deeply moving and disturbing realist and experimental cinema, it is expressionist but never abstract, in comparison to the avant-garde western influences of Andy Warhol and rolling stones, he is more in league with Di-Sica and Satyajit Ray, but he is always an existentialist who blames the hierarchy and the criminals with observing the truth without taking sides visibly.
He made the following note worthy unique classics:
Shehar aur sapna
Bambai Raat ki Bahoon Mein
Do Bhoond Paani
They are all dramatic satires colloquially dressed as mainstream cinema, they amalgamate the virtues and evils of materialism against socialism and are a debate on various stoically impassive crucial issues which most people will choose to ignore, while Abbas is not a renegade or a rebel, he definitely is a reformer who wants social modification at grass root level without destroying the ultra-structure of the defined establishment.
K. A. Abbas addresses the anger of youth in an endeavour to channel it into a calm conduit without denying the failures of the judiciary and democracy in India, he discusses lack of clean drinking water, truant itinerant homeless sleeping on the sidewalk, police cruelty, incompetent bureaucracy, colonial values still rampant in modern free India and in his last most memorable movie, he investigates and details the doomed and damning NAXALITE movement, which arose in Calcutta as a direct reaction to the delusional dissent of disillusioned youth who saw no change in a free India for the common man, instead the cloak of oppression had tightened.
The cast worked free of charge, including the two stars Smita Patil and Mithun Chakraborty, it was shot on real life locations and is rumoured to be based on real life anecdotes. It is a final message from an auteur to a disgruntled and discontent social milieu, which persists despite the fact; he created this 30 years ago.
I have tried to do justice to this crucial but very significant movie in my review without discussing the rights or wrongs of the actions of its vitriolic, wrathful youth and their violent acts as I believe brutality breeds brutality and the right path to harmony lies in a society where all men are equal in the eyes of law and justice, whether it is a democracy or a totalitarian regime is besides the point, if justice is denied then a system has failed it's protagonists.
This is neither correctional nor sermonising but a profound observation from a disillusioned mind who has seen his dreams shattered before his eyes.
I hope you enjoy this review of a cult classic, which is expressionist cinema in technique, and neo-realist in content, despite being minimalist as it is shot on a shoestring budget due to financial constraints. God bless the soul of Mr.Abbas.
Titli -a metaphorical metamorphosis
Titli -a metaphorical metamorphosis
Directed by: Rituparno Ghosh
Cast: Mithun Chakraborty, Aparna Sen, Konkona Sen Sharma, Dipanker Dey
This very discerning product from kolkata [india] took the festival circuit by storm for its audacious comments on modern day approach to feminism and sexuality in 2002.
The media driven world we live in today is satirically presented here as a young teenager [Konkona Sen] falls for a movie star [Mithun Chakraborty] who is almost 2 decades senior to her in age and also unknown to her is the ex-flame of her mother [Aparna Sen].
The plot is further given a twist as the mother and daughter accidentally meet the man himself and destiny takes its toll as the fascinated daughter realises the truth behind her mother financially compromised marriage to her father.
The truth is the movie wins hands down as it makes no revelations as to if the couple still love each other or they just share a mutual affection for each other, but the resentment and the hostility with the heartbreak suffered by the daughter make the rest of this fascinating tale a treat to watch.
The script is simple yet multi-dimensional and the characters are alive rather then living due to the sheer force of the well-etched performances enacted by the entire cast.
The daughters vulnerability and hatred for her mother slowly dissolving to give way to sympathy for a by gone time when a woman was dependant on her family when it came to matrimonial issues is a truly metaphorical journey, yet the mothers total passion for her daughter and her grief as she looks at her fragile child and her hostile sorrow is very affecting and apprehensive.
But it is the man who is sandwiched between the two women who walks away with the applause in a non author backed role, as he eagerly tries to please the daughter in a sham effort while really trying to get a few moments of happiness with his past love which he lost years ago.
The irony that the girl could have been their daughter if fate had been kinder is never lost upon him and his eyes reflect the sense of loss as he looks at the two women, but his resignation to the present is apparent as well as he makes no pretence of hiding his affection for the daughter and his intense emotional involvement with the mother.
The movie is a triumph for Mithun and Aparna as they rekindle their lost love for a few moments in the backdrop of the tea estates in the foothills of Himalayas, which are magically captured by the master lens man with a haunting background musical score which leaves nothing to desire, as Aparna renders a beautiful love poem on her lovers insistence without a background score, you can feel the pathos of every lost love resound in the valleys of the eternal Himalayas.
The directors is making a relevant commentary on the relativity of time and its immense impact on human existence and he symbolises this with the beautiful fleeting images of Buddhist monks chanting ancient hymns who add a spirituality to this modern day story of lust and love which is a must see for anyone interested in quality cinema from India which does not resort to any melodrama or the song dance routines to add to its credibility.
ghosh also has made choker bali an adaptation of mr.tagores book as well as raincoat ,titli means the first rainbow after the moonsoon rain and is the name of the young lady in the movie.
A clip of the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT0G2nKc-Hs
A Kind Of English
A KIND OF BENGALI IN ENGLISH
A SPIRITUAL HOMAGE TO INGMAR BERGMAN BY RUHUL AMIN
Director: Ruhul Amin
Producer: Richard Taylor
Writer: Paul Hallam
Cinematography Jonathan Collinson
Starting: Lalitha Ahmed, Jamil Ali, Afroza Bulbul, Badsha Haq, Andrew Johnson
∑ London International Film Festival awarded the
film as an outstanding achievement.
∑ Germany International Film Festival
∑ Australia International Film Festival
∑ Canada International Film Festival
∑ Sweden International Film Festival
∑ Venice International Film Festival
∑ France International Film Festival
∑ Bangladesh International Film Festival
∑ Moscow International Film Festival and many others.
It is a pleasure to see this soulful rendering of the plights of a Bengali family in the ghetto of London's east end through the eyes of their nine-year-old son who is witnessing the helplessness of his parents in the face of financial ruin and unemployment due to racial discrimination in late eighties.
The focus is the child and his silent psychological trauma as he sees his mother (Lalita Ahmed) struggling to meet the ends while his unemployed father takes his frustration out at her and the rest of the family which comprise his uncle Tariq (Andrews) who is a minicab driver symbolizing the heroic valor of Asian men who indulge in this hazardous profession worldwide from Chicago to Sydney when there is no other option available to financial stability.
Yet add to this the heady wisdom of a withered old granny who relates the magical fables of the golden rivers of Bangladesh to her grandson and you have a delightful but thought provoking concoction which goes straight to your heart.
The stage is set in the redbrick council states of Hackney where we see the camera poetically sweep through the lanes and parks of east London like a gentle caressing breeze, yet this poignant story does notÄôt treat its characters as Asian caricatures seen recently in Bollywood and Hollywood presentations but as individuals that we really are and how we as a community have established ourselves worldwide, not without a struggle but with absolute faith in our family structure.
The little boy is the focus of this tale yet you care for every character from the mum who stitches for a local garment factory to the proud Muslim Bengali father who is ashamed of his wife supporting the family while he struggles ineptly to find a job, mean while the son builds a model toy house from his imagination which symbolizes his domestic haven and the heartbreak intensifies as he sees his parents rowing for financial reasons.
The movie is a true portrayal of Asians living abroad and not the erotic fairy tales I have seen recently from Hollywood and Bollywood, the inspiring finale has to be seen not revealed as the solid script and soulful but complete characters proceed with their everyday life and head into a chaotic crisis.
The camera captures the narrow lanes and parks of east London in a poetic manner yet the colors reflect the grim subject in a natural manner with reds and blues predominating the lush green of Epping Forest shown initially as a paradise in the midst of reality, you will not see an inner city so truly explored anywhere else except in Italian cinema.
I must pay homage to channel Four for financing these wonderful ethnic projects, as my beautiful launderette but this is from a total Asian perspective and no one can refute the sincerity of this project but laud its genuine emotion for its subjects.
The director triumphs in gently and subtly evoking a painful discussion on racial discrimination and individuals rights in an ethnic community as well as social comment on the way Bengali Muslims live in a very constructive way without insulting women or men, but showing them as victims of circumstances which you will all agree we mortals are whether in Lucknow or London.
Yet I felt like I was walking naked on a moonlit beach with a gentle breeze caressing my body though I knew there were sharks in the water but I was chilled by my experience with this enigmatic piece of Anglo-Bengali cinema which is neither exploitative nor sermonizing but rather an observation of a slice of reality, as true cinema should be and that is where I will say Ruhul Amin reminds me of INGMAR BERGMAN.
Well, Total Film doesn't devote much space to World Cinema, nor does the dumbed down media generally. Anyway, Ghatak's Cloud-Capped Star and Subarnarekha are superb films, and he deserves to be much better known, as does classic Indian cinema.
THE GHOULS OF A GENOCIDE IN AN EXTEMPORE EMOTION
Written and directed by Nandita Das.
Cast: Tisca Chopra, Shahana Goswami, Deepti Naval, Paresh Rawal, Naseeruddin Shah, Sanjay Suri, Raghuvir Yadav. 101 mins. In English, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati
The opening montage reveals the theme in grandiose horror, where dilapidated corporation lorries are dumping mounds of butchered corpses in a Muslim cemetery in the spring of 2002 in GUJARAT, as the two fatigued grave diggers bury them in mass graves, one spots a female corpse with a Hindu icon and starts to hit her in a spontaneous rage while the other tries to restrain his visceral rage on an already dead human being.
Nandita Das has populated her inherently complex theme of religious strife and genocide in overt and subtle overtures where her ambiguous characters mingle in a relative time frame torn with strife.
She observes this nightmare from the eyes of a seven year old orphaned Muslim boy who awaits the incipient return of his beloved father butchered in the carnage.
The boy is both a mascot of hope and a bitter reminder of the fragile bond that binds the two nations in the same homeland as he observes the atrocities with his vacuous dazed stare which is the hallmark of great cinema as it is neither a sentimental tearjerker or a sermon on morality but an observation of a bleak truth in anticipation of no optimistic relief.
Das has written the script flawlessly mingling her two communities in the immediate aftermath where a largely guilty Hindu majority is sympathetic yet afraid to overtly express their disapproval of the state sponsored genocide.
Deepti Naval is haunted by the face and pleas of a Muslim woman who begged her to let her in to escape the marauding mob but She did not have the courage to perform a simple deed but it haunts her as a nightmare ,in lieu she takes in the young Muslim boy as a servant and pretends he is a Hindu lad which is an impersonation as bleak as the battered landscape of gutted homes and deserted streets ,and so powerful in its truth as to describe the whole essence of the tragedy.
yet we have Mugheera, played by an excellent Shahana Goswami, a married Muslim woman with a child who had gone into hiding during the horrific riots and returns to find a gutted home and deep mistrust of her Hindu neighbours, the idea of segregation is introduced by her scepticism of living with life-long friends who she now blames for the ruins of her homestead .
Sanjay Suri plays a professional upper class Muslim married to a Hindu lady of means who as a couple are debating to leave Gujarat for Delhi but is their identity going to change with the venue.
This debate is intensely insane and that is the crux of the circumstances created out of a sordid political scam which has changed the life of these human beings irrespective of their beliefs forever, and further crowned by Naseer uddin Shah playing a great Muslim vocal musician living in a Hindu majority area who is in denial of the riots and blames the whole thing on a ruined economy, as he awaits his Muslim disciples to arrive he ponders on the illusion of musical instruments and the exigency of divinity, and his ultimate pessimistic observation of the destruction of a Muslim shrine in the vicinity is emotionally devastating as he tries to find the beloved building which has been obliterated.
Nandita Das has for once immensely reversed the Bollywood sentimentality of the religious strife and passed it from the world of entertainment to grey shades of reality entrenched in art. The performances aside, the sparse music and absence of songs packed in 101 minutes of tumultuous drama which sheds a new light on the contemporary Indian social structure where an icon like a BINDI can be a life-saver is an iconoclastic classic in itself.
The child here is the future of the state that is left without any security and is destined to become a slum dweller to the detriment of the community itself.
As she observes the terrorised Muslim community trying to escape or trying to attempt some form of revenge she is both sensitive and serene but never sentimental as her vision is immersed in the reality of the time frame which is created immaculately by a very committed team work.
The taunting army officers who ask Suri to take her Hindu wife and immigrate to *****stan is the truth she wants us to dwell upon and she succeeds in every moment of the precious stock used.
A horrendous and spellbinding debut by a fecund intelligent female mind who redeems the mediocrity of Bollywood by her anguish ridden Muslim protagonists and the equally guilty yet reluctant Hindu inhabitants ,this fuses the tragedy of the event without indulging in any protest but in doing so becomes a lasting emancipation for humanity itself.
As suggested by the opulent Urdu title, this is a ballad of morose and melancholic poetic beauty that impresses your heart with a seal of turbulent emotional deluge yet it remains impassive simultaneously in its mourning of the symbolic communal separation as suggested by the metaphorical term itself.
Last edited by movielover; 22-07-2009 at 08:30 PM.
Firaaq to some extent fails to really tug at your heartstrings, maybe because we have recently watched a slew of films dealing with similar emotions. The novelty was perhaps missing somewhere. But do watch it for Nandita's direction, Naseeruddin Shah and Deepti Naval's powerhouse performances.With a subject like this, Firaaq may not be a conventional crowd puller.
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