The Bengali film industry was in its golden years in the 1950s and the latter half of the 20th century when quite a few art films of brilliant quality were directed by geniuses of the art of film making themselves. To the layman, an art film is typically an independent and serious film focusing on a particular topic and which is by definition, not commercial. So here are three of the best Bengali art films.
Literally translating to “Song of the Little Road” in English, this 1955 drama film directed by legendary Satyajit Ray himself. As a matter of fact, it is debatable but apparently he did end up getting the Oscar for this classic piece of art. Based on Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay’s Bengali novel of the same name, it was actually the directing debut of Satyajit Ray. The film stood out among others of its age roughly because of its realism, humanity and soul stirring qualities, and last but not the least because Ray dared to strike a sensitive nerve by romanticizing poverty and the small delights of daily life. The film was influenced largely by Italian neo – realism, and beautifully portrayed the user of “Epiphany of Wonder”, as termed by the author Darius Cooper. Needless to say it created big ripples in the then film industry.
The second movie on the list is the beautiful portrayal of the simplicity in man – a man who works hard to earn his bread, gets offended when betrayed and even when guilty is totally honest and views before justice. If you are even remotely reminded of an honest money lender from Afghanistan, and his life’s journey, you are on the right track. Tapan Sinha created his masterpiece based on the eponymous short story by Rabindranath Tagore – Kabuliwala. The studio line is simply brilliant and pulls at the strings of the heart. The film was featured in many international film festivals and won quite a few prizes, including the National Film Awards for Best Feature Film, and also the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury in the Berlin International Film Festival.
The last movie on the list is perhaps the most entertaining and appealing to all age groups. Another masterpiece coming from Satyajit Ray in the form of the 1980s great movie is HirakRajarDeshe. The name of this film means, ”In the Land of the Diamond King” and is the second movie in the series of Goopy – Bagha movies. A very thought provoking aspect of this movie was that even though all the characters of this movie talked in rhymes and had rhyming dialogues, the teacher however never spoke in that way. This implies that the teacher was never bound by the rules and conventions of that time and this was a free thinker. This appealed to all and it was a perfect movie suitable for the entire family. Needless to say it won many accolades too.
These movies are the perfect examples of creativity. Creativity does take a lot of courage, but then at the end of the day once creativity had been turned into a form of art, it enables us not only to find ourselves but also lost ourselves in it.