Saturday, January 19, 2008

‘Pather Panchali’ (Song of the Little Road)

Today I watched the Satyajit Ray classic ‘Pather Panchali’ (Song of the Little Road) for the very first time. It is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s novel of the same name. Now I know what all the hype is all about. I was on purpose postponing viewing this famed movie, perhaps building up expectations and for sure I can confess: I wasn’t disappointed. It is undoubtedly one of the best films ever made, a brilliant almost lyrical exposition of a rather poor family in a village, in the hinterlands of Bengal.

Here was a film, back when it was made, with no melodrama, no violence, no romance or song and dance sequences, simple and plain. An uncomplicated, unadulterated straight-forward story, told from the depths of the heart, yet very potent and full of analogies and with a focus on the human condition of poverty. The screenplay is beautiful and evokes a sense of warmth within – for example, at times, you almost feel you want to hug Apu!



The little Durga and later the grown up one, both have a slightly different feel to them. The little Apu and his elder sister Durga when younger are both so cute and childish, though when Durga grows up she is portrayed as a bit more mischievous although playful as ever. Apu is more of a good boy character, inquisitive and bright! Indirthakuron, the aged, old lady also plays a crucial though side-role throughout the movie. The solid performances by the central characters of husband and wife are played out very emotively and there is hardly any form of exaggeration except perhaps sometimes when the wife admonishes the old lady!

I felt the most tragic scene was the one in which Harihar gets a sari for his daughter Durga and his wife Sarbajaya grabbing the same and unable to control herself, breaks down crying and collapses on the floor - as Durga has died only a few days back due to a prolonged illness; at this point Harihar shocked, eyes wide, gives a loud cry of extreme grief and excruciating pain. Almost undoubtedly your eyes will well up with tears at this scene, especially if you are watching it for the first time, I guess.

Even though a tragic movie at its core, it is laced with instances of subtle humour at various points, highlighting the aspects of poverty, family, death, and essentially life – the film leaves you experiencing a strange sense of joy and is extremely thought-intensive. You cannot but appreciate the maestro that was Satyajit Ray!

A must, must, must watch!

More in-depth article from the SatyajitRay.org website.

Banks of the Hoogly.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

FELUDA + FELUDA

I again watched Satyajit Ray’s ‘Jai Baba Felunath’ today on the Zee Studio tribute series that's been going on for the past two months, where they feature a film by the genius every Sunday at 3PM. What a brilliantly crafted movie it is! Not sure if that same mastery, or that form of brilliance will ever be captured again. However Sandip Ray has done a great job with a fast, slick and a more contemporary format for ‘Kailashe Kelenkari’ (A Killer in Kailash) which I managed to watch at the INOX, City Center, Kolkata recently with all my cousins.


Just as Sonar Kella was a showcase of Rajasthan (Jaisalmer in particular), ‘Jai Baba…’ seemed like a showcase of Kashi, ‘Kailashe…’ is a showcase of the enigmatically beauteous caves of Ellora. All the three stories in their fiction format are absolutely fabulous and their cinematic versions, including the latter one will definitely reach public glory.

The way the movie starts, after an aircraft crash and the clever ending is crafted well. The shots inside the caves are breathtaking and the acting by Sabyasachi Chakrabarty and Dipankar Dey (lead villain) is superb! Parambroto as a more mature Topshe and Bibhu Bhattacharya as Lalmohan Ganguly have given excellent performances too. Overall the quality of this movie is a good notch higher than ‘Bombaiyer Bombete’, which did have an excellent climax.

A tight script executed by Sandip Ray focuses on Feluda and Co.’s successful capture of the head of a gang that involves in stealing rare sculptures and precious idols out of national monuments and selling or smuggling them off to foreigners for a fortune. The story is interspersed with twists and turns and fast paced action sequences. Also Sandip Ray has used that music from ‘Sonar Kella’ as the theme music as he did in his previous film, with some great improvisations.

All in all I’d rate it a 4/5, and the accompanying great sound effects inside INOX sure add to the quality feeling ...!

REVIEW: The Telegraph