Blogger Shreya Dutta
Bengali movie industry has emerged strongly after hitting a low in the 1990s and the early 2000s. It’s now bold, audacious and willing to take the risk. So, is this a new golden era for Tollywood as well as Bollywood?
In recent times Bengali movie directors have emerged strongly after hitting a low for more than two decades in the 1980s, 1990s and the early 2000s. Issues related to this recent emergence arouse serious interest, hype and critical engagements in various sectors. On the one hand, press columns and other media discourses are showing serious interest in the richness of theme and variety of subjects that Bengali art film directors are dealing with. Some of those contemporary names in this industry who changed the whole picture and took the torch to make the signature in the Bengal as well as Indian movie industry are listed below.
Fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, graphic designer filmmaker Satyajit Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and created Feluda, the sleuth, and Professor Shonku, the scientist, for us!
From Pather Panchali (1955) to Aparajito (1956) to Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) (1959), the winner of 32 National Film Awards, Bharat Ratna Satyajit Ray was a man beyond convention, a man who is a legend!
Do Bigha Zamin, Parineeta, BirajBahu, Madhumati, Sujata, and Bandini, Bimal Roy made socialist, realistic theme-based movies which were important harbingers of change in Indian cinema in the first half of the 20th century!
Another star on this list is Shakti Samanta. He started with Howrah Bridge, followed by other romances like Kashmir Ki Kali and An Evening in Paris but wanted to shift to making films on social themes. However he was unsuccessful, and shifted back to making entertainers for another decade, and returned to social themes, with Aradhana only in 1969. He also started the trend of making double version films in Hindi and Bengali with Amanush in 1974.
In the seven years since he began directing, Srijit Mukherji has made films that have featured a serial killer poet, a 19th-century minstrel and a crippled, retired government official on a mission to decipher hieroglyphic symbols in Egypt. His first movie, Autograph (2010), was a rookie film-maker and a fading superstar collaborating on a remake of Satyajit Ray’s Nayak; his last, Zulfiqar (2016), was a Shakespearean gangster saga set in the dockyard area of Kolkata. Some of his films are examples of contemporary Bengali commercial cinema at its best; in others, one could argue that the ideas are better than the movies. One way or another, Mukherji has changed the urban Bengali film and can be considered one of the most influential film-makers today in Kolkata. His movies have won seven National Awards; Chotushkone alone wrested three in 2015.
Known for a lot of other things than his directorial skills, Ghosh was one of the few openly gay figures in Indian cinema and was considered an icon of the LGBT community. Rituparno worked on adaptations of books and novels and gave us some real hard-hitting movies like Chokher Bali with Aishwarya and Raincoat with Aishwarya again. He proved his mettle not only in Bollywood but was also one of the finest directors of Bengali cinema.