বাংলায় লিখি

শনিবার, এপ্রিল ০৫, ২০১৪

Cinematic ecstasies

29 March 2014

David Suchet played the Agatha Christie fictional character, Hercules Poirot, arguably, the most well-loved detective in fiction. I have read all the books in the series a few times over, and have had the pleasure of watching all movies with Poirot impersonations. One can not imagine him anything but the Belgian detective, with a compulsive devotion to 'order and method'.

I respect Suchet for his penetration into this fictional character, for giving him delightful subtle humor, the right nuances of eccentricity and the humane flesh and emotion, all so faithful to his character.

Last year marked his 24 years of completion of the Poirot series. As he says goodbye, the world contemplates how much they will miss Poirot on the screen.


28 March 2014


Watching `The Artist' now. High time I did. It is already about three years old, and I have been hearing of it since its critical acclaim in the Academy awards and elsewhere. Is it true that French films really have a great deal of authenticity and strive to whisper the softest nuances of the human person, magnificently exploiting, but never dominated by, great technology?

Truly bowled over. What art!


24 March 2014

I finally watched the much acclaimed movie Amelie (in French with Chinese subtitles)! This is a genre of it's own. The mind is steeped in sunshine, pure and frolicking. I think I will grow addicted to it for some time.


23 March 2014

Thanks to Arunabha Sengupta for introducing me to the first of a sequence of movies.

The last one (nominated for best screen play, Academy awards, 2013) and in the series got really brilliant, insightful, honest, and deep, looking at a universal man-woman, modern human relationship, within a low key low-budget framework.

The movie is titled 'Before Midnight' and nearly the whole of it is based on dialogue between the two protagonists, a woman and man, just like the previous two were.

Being only dialogue, and much of it, dualistic, it does not take sides one way or the other. But elucidates issues quite well. At a more mature level, naturally, than its two predecessors.

Before Sunrise (Silver Bear for Best Director, 1995) was the first in this series, and had that rosy romantic idealistic glow to it -- based on young love. It came as a poignant surprise, because there was so much more than a couple's love affair.

Before Sunset (nominated for best Screen play, 2005 Academy awards) came nine years later, and took on a more realistic turn. It tried catching up with the same couple almost a decade later, after they had parted without leaving each other any address. The story had evolved, with their lives.

And in the latest movie, the couple have moved into their middle age, and are together finally. So the question is, the romance that started eighteen years ago, how does it travel through space and time? Very difficult and real questions arise. The actors as usual mesmerize the audience with their prolific depth and scope.

I worship the director, writers (and actors) Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy respectively, for bringing up this difficult, humane, and intricate journey in a hilariously relate-able, entertaining capsule.


March 16 2014

Happiness is....to sit down with a great movie or a good book.

Pretty much richly, blissfully absorbed with Blue Jasmine (and Yoga practice, silly multitasker that I am) written and directed by Woody Allen.


February 13 2014

Srijit Mukherjee's 'Mishor Rohoshyo' was one movie I had been looking forward to for some time. Like numerous Bengali kids, I had grown up on Anondomela, Sandesh, and Shuktara, children's magazines that have a long and rich tradition, waned and buffed as they might have all turned out to be, in the present day.

The Shontu Kakababu series was a part and parcel of our secular, literary pujo-making -- i.e., the invariable spark to any Sharodiya Anondomela for years and years, until its author Sunil Ganguly died, only recently.

Srijit Mukherjee set out to screen this movie -- thrilling as it sounds, it happens to be one of the few Bengali movies to be shot in the authentic location of the story -- namely, Egypt!

So what happened to this big budget movie with all the promise? Lets look at the cast: Prasenjit Chatterjee (who never lets us down these days), Indraneil Mukherjee (it turns out for once he is not the villain), Swastika Mukherjee (her second time to fit into a comic role, which she seems good at), and Rajit Kapoor (our very favorite Byomkesh Bakshi hero), also theater-personality-turned-director Kamaleshwar Mukherjee (nice bit of delivery, presence!)

But the spark that looked very promising never really lit the fire -- and why?

Here is some of my ahem, analysis,

1) Shontu was lackluster, as cute as he might be. An important role needs good acting, there is no other option.

Also, did Shontu actually have a girlfriend in the story?

2) Too many jarring camera movements actually shifted and digressed our attention, and we fail to see the logic as to why the camera was so whimsically used. See how the camera moves for instance when Swastika and others discuss their plans to go in search of Kakababu.

3)a) The script was not great, even as it is intended to be a comedy (to compare, see Hemlock society for instance, where each dialogue was just as it should have been, and delivered right on)...

3) b) for such an ambitious project, more cryptic dialogue was needed, and better editing, to minimize unnecessary scenes and repetitiveness (eg. why was the scene in the tomb of the mummy so long?)

4) Unnecessary dramatic lights were used, for instance when Kakababu and Baba Pir have their first meeting, there is an light flickering on Baba's face for absolutely no reason

5) Indraneil was great as usual, but his skin tone and Indian looks give him away. No, he does not look or sound so much as a Egyptian poet cum revolutionary, even though we are informed he knows 17 languages, and is a master of camouflage. His head gestures are still, typically Bengali.

6) Sound tracks were jarring too. Monotonous sound tracks failed to pique our attention and interest in the movie.

What was great? Prasenjit made the best he could of his role. Egypt with its dunes and pyramids was the shade of gold we might envision it to be. The message about how a democracy has to be fought for, and how revolution becomes an act of self defense, was enlightening.


February 10 2014

'Chaander pahar' is the first Bangla movie which has set sky high ambitions in the adventure / action genre.

Frankly, I could see it over a few times -- given my passion for adventure, and given the vulnerability many of us have for the fascinating novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, which forms the basis of the story.

Like many, I have been a little disappointed to see some silly glitches in the making, namely the following:
(i) the mythical animal Bunyip appears here in flesh, and biologists tell us that a few scientific details are wrong (it was left to be a shadow - a silhouette, in the book) . The computerized animal actually irritated the audience, rather than terrorized them.
(ii) Dev, magnificent action hero as he is, was typecast for the majority of the Bollywood audience. For instance some of his super-hero stunts could easily have been omitted, and the Bollywood-type glamour matted to perfection. A little real life vulnerability and imperfection would have been fine.
(iii) Volcanoes do not make umbrella clouds.
(iv) The snake in the book did not actually climb up Shankar's body, and definitely did not bite him.
(v) The audience does not need a thunderous sound track to remember they are dwelling in Africa. They could have done with quieter sequences which gradually climaxed to a peak of suspense. The director needs to remember that a monotonous pitch in the sound track actually takes away the edge of the movie.
(vi) A good movie does not need much of a narration.

But for all the glitches, this movie is still a roaring blast for many like me.

Africa is at its most picturesque. Shimmering with its gold and glory, its flora and fauna, its animals and birds. We view some near-National Geographic footage throughout the movie. The wild life was all real. In this Kamaleshwar resorted to authenticity, much like Satyajit. Except, ahem, for the Bunyip of course. Which he could have most likely avoided.

Finally, my heart frankly swells at Shankar, so acutely Bengali in his English intonations, innocent in his smile, natural in his rustic presence; the village boy, the dreamer, fighting tooth and nail in the face of an unparalleled adventure. Created by one of our greatest writers for immortality.

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