Revisiting classic Bangla cinema
Bollywood-crazy Delhi witnessed a ‘Regional Film Festival,’ showcasing three acclaimed Bengali films, recently.
Satyajit Ray’s illustrious Apur Sansar, Rituparno Ghosh’s critically acclaimed Dahan and Utpalendu Chakraborty’s Chokh were screened on each day of the three day fest. The initiative, by the Department of Art, Culture, and Languages - Government of Delhi and Sahitya Kala Parishad, received many accolades from those who witnessed it.
Assistant secretary, Sahitya Kala Parishad, JP Singh commented, “We were, frankly, expecting only a few art film lovers to attend the fest, but the huge turnout surprised us. Not only Bengalis but people from different regions came to watch the films. The large footfall signifies the love of cinema of different genres amongst Delhiites.”
After the inauguration of the fest by Tapan Sengupta, general secretary, Bengali Association, it opened with the iconic Apur Sansar. The film is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s 1932 Bengali novel Aparajito. Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) is the third part of The Apu Trilogy, about the upbringing and early adulthood of Apu, a young Bengali boy in the early twentieth century.
The film is based in Calcutta where a freshly graduated Apu, played by Soumitra Chatterjee, is looking for a job. Apu struggles for almost everything in life – a job, getting married to his beloved (played by Sharmila Tagore), losing her and finally overcoming the grief. The film won many awards including President's Gold Medal for the All India Best Feature Film and British Film Institute Awards at the London Film Festival.
The second day featured Rituparno Ghosh’s Dahan (crossfire). It is a story of a newlywed couple Romita and Palash who are attacked by molesters and goons in a public space. Only one onlooker Jhinuk, a school teacher, comes forward to help but is frustrated after the victims themselves back out. Rituparna Sengupta and Indrani Halder shared the National Film Award for Best Actress for this film and Rituparno Ghosh won National Film Award for Best Screenplay.
Lastly, the fest showcased Utpalendu Chakraborty’s Chokh based in the Kolkata of 1975 caught in the vortex of labour unrest, strikes and lockouts.