If there is one medium of communication I love the most after books, it has to be movies. The silver screen brings to life your dreams, fuels your imagination, makes you face the reality and most of the times, takes you to a joyride in a mythical world.
The variety of movies is so vast that it is very difficult to pick a favourite few. When you watch a movie, you enter a relationship with it. Some relationships strengthen into deep bonds, leave imprints in your memories, while some simply flush down the drains.
There are movies which you can watch any number of times without feeling bored. Every time you watch these movies, you discover something good about them. I will write about such movies here:
My favourite movies of 2014:
Jaatishwar –A magical melody of memories, Jaatishwar narrates a tale of reincarnation in a style unmatched by any other film. The music of the film is its soul. Winner of 4 National Awards, this film by Srijit Mukherjee is hardly worth a miss.
Apur Panchali – If you wish to experience poetry on celluloid, this is your film. A fitting tribute to Ray’s Pather Panchali, the visual masterpiece will make you go numb in your senses even after the end credits have stopped rolling.
Ramdhanu: The film points the mirror to the society on what is wrong at the very basic level – nursery school admissions – without being preachy. The bond between a mother and child, the love for one’s culture and the relationship between a husband and wife, who are parents now, have been beautifully depicted in this drama.
My favourite all-time movies:
Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne: When it comes to satire, Satyajit Ray’s craft is unmatched. Adapting a child fantasy novel into a film with so many layers, Ray set a benchmark for filmmaking with GGBB. The sequel Heerak Rajar Deshe is still used as a reference for the political commentary on India even now. From the classic Bhooter Naach to the childlike innocence of Santosh Dutta as he ran around screaming ‘Chhuti’, GGBB will easily evoke the child in you.
Charulata: If there was ever a benchmark set for a flawless cinema, Charulata would definitely be it. From the opening scenes bringing Tagore’s one-and-a-half-pages of description of Charu’s loneliness to life within 2 minutes, to the iconic swing scene – the film says it all, and how! Complexities of relationships are so sublimely depicted on-screen that you don’t, for even a second, feel buoyed down by the burden of intellectual proclivity by Ray.
P.S. – I mention only Bengali movies because I believe in promoting the best of Bengal.
Born on 2 May 1922, Satyajit Ray, is known to all as a director par excellence. A writer, creator of two immortal characters of Bengali literature – Feluda and Professor Shanku, Ray is less known as a musician. Talent galore, this dropout of the prestigious Economics department of Presidency College had no financial backers for his first film which went on to become a cult movie – Pather Panchali. A master craftsman, he gave cinema some of the finest actors, viz Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore, brought out a different side to the reigning king of Bengali cinema, Uttam Kumar in Nayak and Chiriyakhana. From overtly political messages in his films to sci-fi fantasy stories, Satyajit Ray has done it all. It is widely acclaimed that Steven Spielberg borrowed the concept of E.T. from Ray’s short story “Bankubabur Bandhu”.
Ray had his unique style. He sketched every shot on his worksheet before shooting them. He could write about cities he never traveled to just by virtue of knowing the Bhraman Sangee (Bengali travel guide) by heart. Despite Byomkesh ruling the hearts of Bengalis, Ray’s Feluda is a classic growing up companion for Bongs. And must i not mention many Non Bengali speaking friends hooked to the adventures of the troika of Feluda, Topshe, Jatayu!
The first time i came across Ray, would be 1991. DD1 had a special telecast of Goopi Gyne, Bagha Byne. I vividly remember that summer night! It was a Sunday. Whole family watching the movie together. Me, being a “early to bed” boy, had enough sleep in the afternoon to last me through the whole film. But the West Bengal State Electricity Board failed us. Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne is and will always be my most favourite film made by Ray. Striking similarities of the plot with Tagore’s Raktakarabi, the film has a different appeal to different age groups. As you watch the film while growing up, you discover a new facet to it everytime you watch it. And having watched it more than 200 times by now, i have the whole screenplay by heart.
Another beautiful film by Ray, Charulata – based on Nashtaneer written by Tagore – still haunts me. The famous scene on the swing has been adopted by almost every director who made a period film based in Bengal (viz Parineeta). Madhabi’s dilemma, Soumitra’s persona scripted an unforgettable love story.
Debi, Kanchenjunga, Kapurush-Mahapurush, Aranyer Din Ratri, Sakha Proshaka, Agantuk, Hirak Rajar Deshe, Ganashatru, Ashani Sanket, Nayak…..the list of Ray’s masterpieces would never end. And i do not wish to prolong my monologue saying what has already been said.
Perhaps, Ray did not know that his words would once become the chant of praise showered on his genius. Maharaja Tomaare Selam (Salutes to you, the King).
Most importantly Ray made us believe Dori Dhore Maaro Taan, Raja Hobe Khan Khan.
[P.S. DO NOT MISS THIS CLASSIC DANCE OF GHOSTS from Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. Brilliant concept and marvelous execution]