Posts tagged ‘indian cinema’

Ek Nadir Galpo (Tale of a River) review

A lot of people come here looking for Ekti Nadir Galpo or Ek Nadir galpo. If that’s why you came here let me assure you, it’s a good film, worth your time. A short review follows.

Ek Nadir Galpo (Tale of a River) is a Bengali feature film, by first time director Samir Chanda. The story is so simple that to reveal anything would give the film away. It is set in a small village in a remote area of Bengal. To step outside, a river needs to be crossed. The other connection to the outer world is a small post office supervised by the head clerk Mr. Bhattacharya. Mr. Bhattacharya’s daughter, Anjana, is about to begin college, the first person from her village to do so. This prospect is both exciting and frightening for Bhattacharya, who seems to have spent his entire life in his secluded village. Anjana’s brush with the outside world is not well recieved by Bhattacharya. This little friction, between a politically reclusive father and his budding politically excited daughter is beautifully essayed. An unfortunate incident leaves Bhattacharya shattered. The reality of it is too harsh for him to accept. He resolves to compensate his loss by making a bizarre request out of the government. Driven by his daughter’s ardor and energy, and his own personal grief, he campaigns, without the benefit of “public support”, to have this unusual request fulfilled. Will he succeed?

Besides being a touching story of a father and a daughter, the film is also a revealing commentary on the Indian citizens tryst with politics and the government. For instance, Anjana is both excited and cynical about the political activities at her college. It is clear that she desires change, but does not agree with the disruptive methods of her compatriots. Then there is Bhattacharya. His cynicism of public support is reversed when his demands are not filled. His request itself is symbolic. Lost in grief, he selfishly demands emotional gratification instead of corrective action. It shows us how deep the emotions of personal loss run, and how the law and its machinations provide no space for it. This idea is captured well by the character of a District Magistrate, who listens to Bhattacharya and resolves to help him out. Soon however he is frustrated by Bhattacharya’s stubbornness and his reluctance to pursue the matter with a logical approach. The conclusion makes us question the desiarbility of this approach for some, given its inability to satiate personal loss.

The film is powered by excellent performances by Mithun Chakraborty (veternan actor, National Award winner, B grade star, and Ooty hotelier) and the talented Shweta Prasad (previously seen in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Makdee). The visuals are stunning right from the starting credits to the beautifully shot climax. I don’t have much to say about the music, as it appeared very simple to me. There are some songs in the first half which seem to slow the film down, but otherwise the film is perfect.

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January 31, 2008 at 10:03 pm 20 comments

Radical films: Kaalchakra and Ratrimazha

With all the talk about Taare Zameen Par, I think it is a good time to look back at two other films released last year. Like TZP these two films also deal with some problematic social issues, albeit with adults. They have recieved little exposure, probably because they are not in Hindi. The films are Ratri Mazha by Lenin Rajedran in Malyalam and Kaalchakra by Vishal Bhandari in Marathi.

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January 13, 2008 at 12:33 am 1 comment

2007, Best of

A little late but here goes.

Ahem.

Best films of 2007 and why I liked them:

Black Friday by Anurag Kashyap
Because never before have I seen a more honest film. Tiger was scary. Aadesh Srivastava as Baadshah shone again after Satya.

Ami, Iyasin ar amar Madhubala by Budhdhadeb Bhattacharya
This film is about chauvinism, feminism, voyeurism, fascism and nerds. I liked the scene where the computer guy talks to his computer.

Ratri Mazha by Lenin , Kaal Chakra by Vishal Bhandari
Refreshingly new attitude, to some very relevant social issues.

Manorama: Six Feet Under by Navdeep Singh
Small town life the way it is. Crisp dialogues. Great acting.

Johnny Gaddar by Sriram Raghavan
Anti hero protagonist was a killer idea. Gripping and unpredictable.

Ekti Nadir Galpo by Samir Chanda
Mithun’s performance. And the way the film wraps itself around a simple story.

Naalu Pennungal by Adoor Gopalkrishnans
Four portraits of women. Each part shot in a unique style.

No Smoking by Anurag Kashyap
I know a lot of people hated it. Not perfect but I’m a sucker for Alternative Reality films. And John Abraham rocked.
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January 1, 2008 at 10:10 pm 1 comment

Jaman

Last week I used up my remaining two free tickets on Jaman. So from now on, I’ll be watching only short films, till I start earning some big bucks get myself a Mastercard. I have to say, Jaman is good. It’s repository is very rich and diverse. For people like me, it offers a new avenue to explore World Cinema and that too legally. The pricing also appears to be reasonable, at 1-2$ (approx INR 40-80). My knowledge of credit cards is zero, so perhaps there are some hidden expenses that I do not know about and you may end up paying more. Another thing I liked was the Social Networking features it offers. I have come across several enlightening discussions and well written reviews. I am not so excited, however, by the comments feature. In the three films I rented, comments were often mundane or congratulatory but rarely informing. Which is not to say I did not find any useful comments at all. In “The Stranger” for instance, a comment actually the significance of a dialog, a significance that I had missed. And in “The Home and the World” I was forced to relook at a scene after a commenter questioned a characters action. So its not exactly a redundant feature but a lot depends on the users. But after seeing the kind of user generated content on site I am sure it will become more significant.

The three films that I saw were, “The Seventh Horse of the Sun” by Shyam Benegal and “The Home and the World” and “The Stranger” by Satyajit Ray. I had a hard time picking out three films from a thousand others. My original intention had been to see some of World Cinema, that is, non American and non Indian films. But that changed when I stumbled upon NFDC’s profile. Here, was a stash of treasures from the Parallel Cinema movement of the 80s. Treasures that are impossible to find. This is what NFDC has to say about itself (on Jaman):

“National Film Development Corporation of India and its predecessor, the Film Finance Corporation, have funded or produced over 300 films in various Indian languages that have won acclaim and awards in India and worldwide.

The NFDC movies include work from the country’s top directors, including films from Satyajit Ray, the master director who brought Indian cinema to world recognition and won an Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 1992. Many are only on Jaman and are not available on DVD or VHS.

(bolds mine)

December 29, 2007 at 9:27 pm 2 comments


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