Contemporary Bengali Cinema is the success story of contemporary Bengali directors and their far flung dreams. Experimentation is the watchword and that is backed by the support of the audience. Five directors who are contemporary and reigning Bengali Film Industry are listed below..
Raj Chakroborty never had the luxury to be guided by a Godfather. Rather, using the medium of television as a stepping stone, he has been what he is and as his name has it, he has broadened his ‘rajyopat’ (kingdom). He had tried out his hand at theatre with groups like Gandhar and Natya Kallol and finally understood: “I realised I wasn’t cut out for acting… direction is what I am passionate about.” He learnt the basics, the tactics, and the masala as he worked. What makes him stand out from the Tolly rat race is his fresh take on subjects, new faces as well as love as he observes: “My top priority is topicality in the real life scenario always. There must be something ‘real’ within the ‘unreal’ world I try to portray and if a social message happens to be in it, then nothing like it.” His rendezvous started with “Chirodini tumi je amar”- a heart wrenching story of love where the lovers are separated owing to their different backgrounds, class.
The film was a massive hit and Raj never had to look back! His Le Chakka is a romantic comedy that brings out the essence of para cricket, north Kolkata- south Kolkata feud owing to ‘ghoti- bangal’ rivalry and love blossoming. As Raj confirms-“When I made Le Chakka, IPL was a big hit with cricket fans across the state that cut across age and class and even sex.” Other films by him that witnessed the successful marriage of commercial and critical acclaim is-Bojhena Se Bojhena, Proloy, Dui Prithibi, Kanamachi etc.
Kaushik Ganguly is the true blue experimental director of Bengali cinema. Starting his journey with Waarish, he is currently busy promoting his soon to be released film ‘Apur Panchali’ that ‘has elements of the Apu Trilogy’ by Satyajit Ray. Kaushik Ganguly’s films throw light on the less talked about issues of human and social life. Whether it is Homosexuality in Arekti Premer Golpo or an artist’s idealistic expectations of female breast and feminine body in Shunyo e Bukey. His film ‘Shobdo’ created history by diving deep into the world of a Foley artist, his obsession with his art and the abiding complexities.
Again, the film ‘Laptop’ is another of his creations that mark experimentation where Laptop itself is the protagonist-“I’m not techno-savvy, so the laptop is a mystery to me. But because it also has memory, I thought it could be a character. And as the memory travels (as the laptop changes hands), it can change people’s lives.” His C/O Sir is a thriller and the struggle of of a blind teacher, inculcating the concept of vision beyond a vision.
Mainak Bhaumik is currently the favourite name of the youth cinema going crowd in Kolkata. Born and brought up in New York he started with Film Editing and went on to film making. The way he captures the pulse of this city and the bongs nowadays has been aptly portrayed in Maach Mishti and More. He started with ‘Aamra’- a sex comedy and after Maach Mishti and More went on to make Ami ar amar Girlfiends- a chick flick.
Ace film maker Anjan Dutta connotes about Ami ar amar girlfriends: “It has a voice of its own. A voice and visual that is unabashed and unpretentious. Beneath the garb of huge wit and humour, AAAG is truly nouvelle vague. It gives a damn to the outdated, middle-class, chauvinistic prudishness that still many of us cling on to in the name of ‘good taste’.” His films are a must watch for one who is in love with the Kolkata urban scenario, the youth culture and a smart entertaining cinema!
When singer and songwriter Anjan Dutta ventured into film making, his fans had high expectations from him and his films like his songs have the imageries to which bongs can connect. The journey that started with The Bong Connection, Chalo Lets Go even has his bests like Dutta vs Dutta, Madly Banglai and Byomkesh Bakshi. His take on Kolkata, bongs and their lives are armed quintessentially with an essence of urban reflections and the cinematography often captures our fancy. One striking thing to note about his movies is the songs that even are the USP of his movies! Nostalgia and heightened realism at once juxtaposes his films.
Srijit Mukherjee is the new uncrowned trailblazer of Bengali cinema who has earned a kingdom for himself with back to back hits –starting with Autograph and his recent Jaatiswar that received four National Awards! Srijit with the sheer passion for film making left his life at Bangalore and ventured to the uncertainty of Tollygaunge para. But lady luck favoured him and currently, he is one of the most sought after directors. The juxtaposition of reality and lyricism, modernity and classicism is but the USP of his movies.
By Adrita Dey Ghatak
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