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The Best of Bengali Cinema in 2018

2018 has been a satisfactory year at the Box Office. For cinephiles like me, there was a lot on offer, across genres. What set 2018 apart from previous years was the fact that content-driven films took the centre-stage and even big-budget films with superstars failed to make a mark, because of the lack of good content.

 

Some of the releases of 2018 – Image credit: The Times of India

 

While the year saw the ‘return’ of Saukarya Ghoshal (who had decided to give up on making films after Pendulum did not do good business), and new directors like Ranjan Ghoshal, we also had veterans like Srijit Mukherjee delivering two blockbusters. There were new filmmakers who wow-ed us, and there were experienced directors who failed to meet the expectations.

Here are my top 10 favourite films of 2018 in Bangla:

10. Alinagarer Golokdhadha – History, they say, is written by the victors. And in India, the history that is taught in schools, is mostly that of Delhi. It took director Sayantan Ghoshal to remind us of the history of Kolkata, and Bengal, in this adventure film. A pacy thriller, the film keeps you hooked, despite a few slippages in writing, and overtly melodramatic performance by Gautam Halder as the villain. Watch it for the history, and Anirban Bhattacharya.

 

 

09. Happy Pill – Ritwik Chakraborty plays the role of a medical school dropout, whose life changes after he discovers a pill, accidentally, which makes people happy. A simple film, it wows you with its innocence. Watch the film for power-packed performances by Ritwik, Sohini and Parno.

 

Ritwik Chakraborty in Happy Pill

 

08. Mati – This is one film, which is so close to my heart, that I’d happily overlook its technical flaws. There are very few films in Bangla that deal with the topic of partition, and how it affected lives. While Ritwik Ghatak made films on the refugee crisis, this film explores a second-generation refugee from East Bengal grapples with her roots. Having grown up hearing stories about our ancestral home in Mymensingh district of East Bengal, Mati made me nostalgic and made me crave for a visit to Bangladesh in search of my roots.

 

 

07. Uranchandi – Probably the first film that can be called a ‘road-trip’ film, except that the film is not about friends. Three women are forced to go on the run. Their paths cross and they go on a trip of a ‘lifetime’. The breathtaking visuals of Purulia, the powerful writing, solid performances by Sudipta Chakraborty, Chitra Sen and Rajnandini Paul (her second film), and the fresh take on social issues make Uranchandi stand out in the crowd.

 

 

06. Ahare Mon – The sweet innocence of the film wins over your heart. The track involving Chitrangada Chakraborty, a cancer patient, tugs at your heartstrings. Veterans Anjan Dutt and Mamata Shankar surprise you with a new side to their acting prowess, while the helplessly-fascinating chemistry between Paoli Dam and Adil Hussain melts your heart. The twist in the tale is a signature Pratim D. Gupta touch.

 

 

05. Sonar Pahar – A film with an eight-year old child and an eighty-year old lady in the lead, Sonar Pahar is like those heartwarming tales of fantasy your mother would read to you as she put you to sleep every night. Complexities of relationships, dynamics of life and constant struggles of living get a fresh touch of professionalism in Parambrata’s direction. The quest for the ‘mythical’ Sonar Pahar is one adventure you must trek for this year.

 

Tanuja in one of the scenes from Sonar Pahar

 

04. Uma – Himadri, an NRI businessman in Switzerland, must fulfil the last wish of his daughter Uma, a terminally-ill teenager, who has only months to live. She wishes to soak-in the festive spirit of Durga Puja in Kolkata but she might not live till October. So, Himadri must arrange a mock-Durga Puja in the month of April. The film was an emotional roller coaster. The divine innocence of Uma, the triumph of the human spirit, and the victory of the heart (good) over scheming machinations of the head (evil) allow you to gloss over the logical fallacies in the film. To even think that the film is a recreation of actual events (when an entire town came together to create Christmas in October, for Evan) makes your eyes moist.

 

 

03. Pupa – A much-acclaimed film, Pupa deals with the controversial subject of euthanasia. The director, Indrasis Acharya, does not for a moment sermonise or take a moral stand. He does not impose any ‘good vs evil’ drama on the audience. He simply narrates the story of a family, whose lives go through an upheaval as the family patriarch suffers heart attack and is bed-ridden. Lives are torn apart, strength of relationships questioned, tough choices have to made, but they come with scarring consequences.

 

 

02. Ek Je Chhilo Raja – The problem with historical movies is that such movies face the danger of being criticised for being eons apart from the actual events, or too committed to historical texts, to the point of being outright boring. Srijit Mukherjee deftly walks the tightrope. A film on the much publicised Bhawal Sanyasi case, the longest running court case pre-independence, EJCR ticks all the boxes for a classic period drama. The astoundingly wonderful make-up, production design and cinematography will transport you to Bengal of the 1920s. Jishu Sengupta’s career-best performance is matched equally by the ensemble, specially Jaya Ahsan. The laborious production is indeed one of Srijit Mukherjee’s best work of all times.

 

Jishhu Sengupta in Ek Je Chhilo Raja

 

01. Rainbow Jelly – After Pendulum did not get the response he expected, Saukarya Ghoshal decided to take a break from making films. Thank God, he returned to filmmaking, or else audiences would have been deprived of this cinematic beauty. Rainbow Jelly brings back memories of fantasy tales of Thakumar Jhuli and young adult fictions – with hidden treasures, an aunt with a mysterious box, a special child who must fight against his oppressive uncle, his only living relative, childhood crush and above all – the quest to break free. Ultimately, this jelly is a sweet concoction of hope, childlike innocence, sweetness, and indomitable spirit of survival.

 

 

Special mentions must be made to films like Rang Beronger Korhi (probably a joint tenth with Alinagar), Guptadhaner Sandhane, Manojder Adbhut Bari, Rosogolla, Kabir and Biday Byomkesh for satisfying the never-ending craving for good cinema. I wish I could add Jonaki, Tarikh, Abyakto to this list, but they have not yet been theatrically released (although I have watched them at the Kolkata International Film Festival).

Here’s looking forward to be wowed in 2019.

 

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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Bid adieu to 2018 with these soulful songs

“Without music, life would be a mistake”

There is limited scope of disagreeing with this insight on music by Friedrich Nietzsche. Life would be like a monochromatic painting lying unattended in a corner in the attic without music. As Satyajit Ray had famously said in Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne “Bhasha emon kotha bole, bojhe re sokole” (music speaks an universal language, understood by all). How can a middle-class Bengali dispute him?

Music is an inspiration for me. In the profession of writing, my productivity is at its best when I am plugged in to my earphones. A Rahmaniac by choice, I have grown tired of Bollywood music. English music does not excite me. However, over the last few years, Bengali music scene has evolved and matured. With a lot of experimentation, the sound of music has come of age.

In this listicle, I share with you all my favourite Bengali songs from 2018:

10. Amar Dukkhogulo – Composed by Anupam Roy and sung by Iman Chakraborty, this song from ‘Drishtikone’ communicates the pangs of love with ease.

 

09. Lokkhiti – Again from Drishtikone, and composed by Anupam Roy, this song will reverberate in your heart. Sung by Poulumi Majumder, Lokkhiti conveys the angst-filled-despair of separation.

 

08. Hridayer Rong – Yet another Anupam Roy composition. Sung by Lagnajita Chakraborty, the song evokes a passionate requiem of old love.

 

07. Tor Sathe – Arindom will melt your heart with this soulful melody celebrating the bonds of togetherness.

 

06. Bhule Jeo Amare – I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes when this song played in that particular sequence of ‘Generation Ami’. A songs that will make you miss your loved ones.

 

05. Bhutu Bhaijaan – The playful innocence of the songs will win your heart. Haami did not meet my standards of movie-viewing experience. But the film lives up to the music charts.

 

04. Duniya – A peppy and exuberant melody from Crisscross, the song will fill you with positivity and hope. The fresh sound of the composition is an added bonus.

 

03. Esho Hey – Despite being a die-hard fan of Shreya Ghoshal, this song struck a chord with me for Ishan Moitra. A semi-classical composition fetching nearly 2 million views on Youtube is a wonder in itself.

 

02. Monta Ahare – Srijit Mukherjee’s lyrics will pierce your heart. Neel Dutta’s composition complements the beauty of the words. Romance is personified in one of the cult romantic compositions of the year.

 

01. Uma – Entire soundtrack – When I started writing this listicle, I had decided to put Uma’s songs in the top four slots. And then I ran out of anymore slots. It is excruciatingly difficult to choose one song over another from this album. Thank you Anupam Da and Srijit Da.

 

All I can say is that 2018 was a musical year. And going by the trends of Bijoya and Shahjahan Regency, one can safely say 2019 will be too.

 

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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