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Indian Bengali Cinema

By: Kolar

Indian Bengali Cinema

Indian Cinema List

SATYAJIT RAY (by Kenji)
The Cinema of Ritwik Ghatak (by Vikram)
Best Indian Films (by Sanjib Dey)
Malayalam Cinema (by Kolar)
Marathi Cinema (by Rohit Apte)
FAVOURITE INDIAN FILMS (by Kenji)
Literature in Indian Cinema (by Laali)
Cinema of Prayoga: Indian Avant-Garde Cinema (by Laali)
INDIA: A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY (by apursansar)
Indian Cinema (by Filmy)

and many more… not listed

Indian Bengali Cinema

Bengali cinema refers to the Bengali language filmmaking industries in the Bengal region of South Asia. There are two major film-making hubs in the region: one in Kolkata, West Bengal, India (Indian cinema) and the other in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Bangladeshi cinema). Today, there are two Bengali-language film industries: the one in Kolkata, West Bengal, India (the Cinema of West Bengal, sometimes called Tollywood, a portmanteau of the words Tollygunge and Hollywood), is one of many centres for Indian regional filmmaking; and the other one in Dhaka, Bangladesh (the Cinema of Bangladesh, sometimes called Dhallywood, a portmanteau of the words Dhaka and Hollywood), is the mainstream national film industry of Bangladesh, see Cinema of Bangladesh (by Life as Fiction)

The cinema of West Bengal (Bengali: টলিউড) refers to the Tollygunge-based Bengali film industry in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The origins of the nickname Tollywood, a portmanteau of the words Tollygunge and Hollywood, dates back to 1932. The industry is known for producing many of Indian cinema’s most critically acclaimed Parallel Cinema art films, with several of its filmmakers gaining international acclaim, most notably Satyajit Ray.

Etymology

The film industry based in Kolkata, West Bengal, is sometimes referred as “Tollywood”, a portmanteau of the words Tollygunge, a neighbourhood of Calcutta where most of the Bengali film studios are located, and Hollywood. Tollywood was the very first Hollywood-inspired name, dating back to a 1932 article in the American Cinematographer by Wilford E. Deming, an American engineer who was involved in the production of the first Indian sound film. He gave the industry the name Tollywood because the Tollygunge district in which it was based rhymed with “Hollywood”, and because Tollygunge was the center of the cinema of India as a whole at the time much like Hollywood was in the cinema of the United States. Tollywood went on to inspire the name “Bollywood” (as the Bombay-based industry overtook the one in Tollygunge), which in turn inspired many other similar names.


Dena Paona (1931)

History

The history of cinema in Bengal dates back to the 1890s, when the first “bioscopes” were shown in theatres in Calcutta. Within a decade, the first seeds of the industry was sown by Hiralal Sen, considered a stalwart of Victorian era cinema when he set up the Royal Bioscope Company, producing scenes from the stage productions of a number of popular shows at the Star Theatre, Minerva Theatre, Classic Theatre. Following a long gap after Sen’s works, Dhirendra Nath Ganguly (Known as D.G) established Indo British Film Co, the first Bengali owned production company, in 1918. However, the first Bengali Feature film, Billwamangal, was produced in 1919, under the banner of Madan Theatre. Bilat Ferat was the IBFC’s first production in 1921. The Madan Theatre production of Jamai Shashthi was the first Bengali talkie.A long history has been traversed since then, with stalwarts such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak and others having earned international acclaim and securing their place in the movie history.

Silent era: 1919-1930

Hiralal Sen is credited as one of Bengal’s, and India’s first directors. However, these were all silent films. Hiralal Sen is also credited as one of the pioneers of advertisement films in India. The first Bengali-language movie was the silent feature Billwamangal, produced by the Madan Theatre Company of Calcutta and released on 8 November 1919, only six years after the first full-length Indian feature film, Raja Harish Chandra, was released.

The early beginnings of the “talking film” industry go back to the early 1930s, when it came to British India, and to Calcutta. The movies were originally made in Urdu or Persian as to accommodate a specific elite market. One of the earliest known studios was the East India Film Company. The first Bengali film to be made as a talkie was Jamai Shashthi, released in 1931. It was at this time that the early heroes of the Bengali film industry like Pramathesh Barua and Debaki Bose were at the peak of their popularity. Barua also directed a number of movies, exploring new dimension in Indian cinema. Debaki Bose directed Chandidas in 1932; this film is noted for its breakthrough in recording sound. Sound recordist Mukul Bose found out solution to the problem of spacing out dialogue and frequency modulation.

Rise of the Talkie: 1931-1947

The contribution of Bengali film industry to Indian film is quite significant.First bengali talkies Jamai Shashthi (as short film) was released 11 April 1931 at Crown Cinema Hall in Calcutta and First bengali talkies as full length feature film Dena Paona was released 30 December 1931 at Chitra Cinema Hall in Calcutta Based in Tollygunge, an area of South Kolkata, West Bengal and is more elite and artistically-inclined than the usual musical cinema fare in India.


Pather Panchali (1955)

Golden era: 1952-1975

During this period, Bengali cinema enjoyed a large, even disproportionate, representation in Indian cinema, and produced film directors like Satyajit Ray, who was an Academy Honorary Award winner, and the recipient of India’s and France’s greatest civilian honours, the Bharat Ratna and Legion of Honor respectively, and Mrinal Sen, who is the recipient of the French distinction of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and the Russian Order of Friendship.

Other prominent film makers in the Bengali film industry at the time included Bimal Roy and Ritwik Ghatak. The Bengali film industry has produced classics such as Nagarik (1952), The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959), Jalsaghar (1958), Ajantrik (1958), Neel Akasher Neechey (1959), Devdas, Devi (1960), Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), the Calcutta trilogies (1971–1976), etc. In particular, The Apu Trilogy is now frequently listed among the greatest films of all time.

The most well known Bengali actor to date has been Uttam Kumar; he and co-star Suchitra Sen were known as The Eternal Pair in the early 1950s. Soumitra Chatterjee is a notable actor, having acted in several Satyajit Ray films, and considered as a rival to Uttam Kumar in the 1960s. He is famous for the characterization of Feluda in Sonar Kella (1974) and Joy Baba Felunath (1978), written and directed by Ray. He also played the adult version of Apu in The World of Apu (1959), also directed by Ray. One of the most well known Bengali actresses was Sharmila Tagore, who debuted in Ray’s The World of Apu, and became a major actress in Bengali cinema as well as Bollywood.

The pioneers in Bengali film music include Raichand Boral, Pankaj Mullick and K. C. Dey, all associated with New Theatres Calcutta. Other famous playback singers in Bengali film music were Hemanta Mukherjee, Shyamal Mitra, Manna Dey, Sandhya Mukhopadhyay and Kishore Kumar.


Jalsaghar (1958)

Global influence

Ever since Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955) was awarded Best Human Document at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, Bengali films frequently appeared in international fora and film festivals for the next several decades. This allowed Bengali filmmakers to reach a global audience. The most influential among them was Satyajit Ray, whose films became successful among European, American and Asian audiences. His work subsequently had a worldwide impact, with filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, James Ivory, Abbas Kiarostami, Elia Kazan, François Truffaut, Carlos Saura, Isao Takahata, Wes Anderson and Danny Boyle being influenced by his cinematic style, and many others such as Akira Kurosawa praising his work. The “youthful coming-of-age dramas that have flooded art houses since the mid-fifties owe a tremendous debt to the Apu trilogy”. Kanchenjungha (1962) introduced a narrative structure that resembles later hyperlink cinema. Ray’s 1967 script for a film to be called The Alien, which was eventually cancelled, is widely believed to have been the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s E.T. (1982). Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue (2005) was a loose remake of Charulata, and in Gregory Nava’s My Family (1995), the final scene is duplicated from the final scene of The World of Apu. Similar references to Ray films are found in recent works such as Sacred Evil (2006), the Elements trilogy of Deepa Mehta, and in films of Jean-Luc Godard.


Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960)

Another prominent Bengali filmmaker is Mrinal Sen, whose films have been well-known for their Marxist views. During his career, Mrinal Sen’s film have received awards from almost all major film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Montreal, Chicago, and Cairo. Retrospectives of his films have been shown in almost all major cities of the world.

Another Bengali filmmaker, Ritwik Ghatak, began reaching a global audience long after his death; beginning in the 1990s, a project to restore Ghatak’s films was undertaken, and international exhibitions (and subsequent DVD releases) have belatedly generated an increasingly global audience. Some of his films have strong similarities to later famous international films, such as Ajantrik (1958) resembling the Herbie films (1967–2005) and Bari Theke Paliye (1958) resembling François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959).


Kharij (aka The Case Is Closed, 1983)

A number of Satyajit Ray films appeared in the Sight & Sound Critics’ Poll of all-time greatest films, including The Apu Trilogy (ranked #4 in 1992 if votes are combined), The Music Room (ranked #27 in 1992), Charulata (ranked #41 in 1992) and Days and Nights in the Forest (ranked #81 in 1982). The 2002 Sight & Sound critics’ and directors’ poll also included the Ritwik Ghatak films Meghe Dhaka Tara (ranked #231) and Komal Gandhar (ranked #346). In 1998, the critics’ poll conducted by the Asian film magazine Cinemaya included The Apu Trilogy (ranked #1 if votes are combined), Ray’s Charulata and The Music Room (both tied at #11), and Ghatak’s Subarnarekha (also tied at #11). In 1999, The Village Voice top 250 “Best Film of the Century” critics’ poll also included The Apu Trilogy (ranked #5 if votes are combined). In 2005, The Apu Trilogy was also included in Time magazine’s “All-TIME” 100 best movies list. In 1992, the Sight & Sound Critics’ Poll ranked Ray at #7 in its list of “Top 10 Directors” of all time,

The cinematographer Subrata Mitra, who made his debut with Ray’s The Apu Trilogy, also had an importance influence on cinematography across the world. One of his most important techniques was bounce lighting, to recreate the effect of daylight on sets. He pioneered the technique while filming Aparajito (1956), the second part of The Apu Trilogy. Some of the experimental techniques which Satyajit Ray pioneered include photo-negative flashbacks and X-ray digressions while filming Pratidwandi (1972).

1980s

In the 1980s, however, the Bengal film industry went through a period of turmoil, with a shift from its traditional artistic and emotional inclinations to an approach more imitating the increasingly more popular Hindi films, along with a decline in the audience and critical appreciation, with notable exceptions of the works of directors like Nripen Saha, Gautam Ghose. However, even at this time, a number of actors and actresses enjoyed popularity, including Tapas Pal, Prosenjit, Chiranjit, Rituparna Sengupta and others. However, toward the end of the 90s, with the a number of directors coming increasingly into prominence, including Rituparno Ghosh, Gautam Ghose, Aparna Sen, Sandip Ray among others, a number of popular and critically acclaimed movies have come out of the Bengali film industry in recent years. These include Unishe April, Titli, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Patalghar, Bombaiyer Bombete, Shatru Pakakkha, and Jeeban Jodhha, and signal a resurgence of the Bengali film industry.


Paroma (1984)

2000s

The market for Bengali films has expanded to a 340-million-strong Bengali audience in Bangladesh, West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. The industry could truly flourish if films from this state have a proper distribution network. While around 50 films are produced in West Bengal every year, only 30 make it to the theatres.

Bengali cinema has never seen such a flood of releases within one year as it did in 2008. The year marks a record for new talents, new directors, young producers, a new genre of ensemble films, a few off-beat films, a few films for children, an animation film and films in languages other than Bengali but having a distinct Bengali atmosphere. This, alongside ten releases of Prosenjit, the numero uno, among the 61 releases we saw last year and some experimental films new directors stepped in with. The predominantly young audience reveals a marked preference for fast-paced romance-cum-action films featuring strapping young actors instead of the seniors Mithun and Prosenjit. Shibaji, Ghar Jamai, Mr. Fantoosh, and Takkar, were the successful Prosenjit starrers. Among films not starring Prosenjit, the successful films were Chirodini Tumi Je Amaar, Bhalobasa Bhalobasa, Love Story, Mon Maane Naa, Chirosaathi and Tintorettor Jishu, again a Feluda adventure from Sandip Ray. Prosenjit’s Mahakaal did average business Mithun’s sole commercial release Satyameva Jayate was a flop while his off-mainstream release, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Kaalpurush, was taken off the theatres within a fortnight even though tovella, did not go down well with an audience so fond of Swapan Saha, Sujit Guha and Haranath Chakraborty potboilers. Shubrajit Mitra’s much-hyped Mon Amour Shesher Kobita Revisited, inspired by a Tagorit script, even the best of actors, singers, music and technical excellence can do nothing to save a film. Arin Paul’s Doshta Dosh told an unusually funny story that failed because it lacked focus. Rati Agnihotri’s first Bangla film Aainatey was also a flop as were two new directors’ debuts, Arjun Chakraborty’s Tollylights and Sougata Roy Burman’s 90 Hours, a slickly made psychological thriller. Both films directed by the talented cinematographer Riingo, Neel Rajar Deshe and Love, were massive flops because despite technical excellence, the films did not have a cohesive script and did not have much to say either.


Dosar (2006)

Chirodini Tumi Je Amaar introduced the new director, Raj Chakraborty, who honed his skills with television. It also brought in two wonderfully fresh faces with talent to boot in Rahul and Priyanka Sarkar who play the star-crossed lovers in the film. Running neck-to-neck in the race to the biggest hit is Sandip Ray’s Tintorettor Jishu released in December. Coming a close second are the Koel Mullick-Dev starrer Mon Maane Naa and the Koel Mullick-Hiron starrer Chirosaathi. Another big hit was Bhalobasha Bhalobasha produced by Ashok Dhanuka and directed by Ravi Kinnagi starring Hiron opposite Shrabanti, making a comeback after marriage. Sandip Ray’s Feluda adventure Kailase Kelenkari, Zor starring Jeet and Varsha, Ravi Kinnagi’s Premer Kahini with Dev and Koel Mullick and Haranath Chakraborty’s Bajimaat exploring the ugly underbelly of musical reality shows on television, with two new faces Soham and Subhasree were also thumping hits at the box office. Anjan Dutt’s Chalo Let’s Go, a road movie with a lilting musical score, is a big hit claims its producer Joy Ganguly. Rangan Chakrabarty’s Bor Ashbe Ekhuni did well but was not a thumping hit. The year’s last release, Raaj Kumar starring Prosenjit, did not do well. West Bengal is known for it’s parallel cinema.

The biggest star draws were Koel Mullick, Dev, Priyanka Sarkar, Rahul Banerjee, Hiron, Shoham and Srabonti. In the music department, Jeet Ganguly is surely going places while as far as direction goes, Raj Chakraborty has his hands full of assignments he can pick and choose from. Rangan is likely to begin his second film this year and as one finishes this summing up, news trickles in that Bengali cinema will open its innings in 2009 with the release of Aniruddha Roychoudhury’s Antaheen starring Aparna Sen and Sharmila Tagore in the same film for the first time with music by Shantanu Moitra. (Wikipedia)

Bengali Film Directors, Indian Cinema

The contribution of Bengali filmmakers in Indian cinema is quite significant. Bengali film directors created that are films grander and artistically superior. Earlier, directors like Mrinal Sen, who was honoured the French distinction of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and Satyajit Ray, with an Academy Honorary Award, the Bharat Ratna and Legion of Honor awards under his belt, have defined and revitalised cinema in Bengal and taken it to great new heights. The films directed and shot, by Nemai Ghosh, heralds the tradition of Bengali humanistic realism. Chhinamul (1950), a poignant melodrama is one of the milestones in Bengali cinema. Hemen Gupta, director of both Bengali and Hindi films, is also worth mentioning. Another classic figure of commercial movies is Sailajananda Mukherjee. Out of the 15 films that he created, Shahar Theke Dooray and Mane Na Mana are most renowned. Asit Sen, who has shot films in Bengali and Hindi, is simultaneously influenced by his fellow Bengali Bimal Roy, Hollywood and the Bengal humanistic novel. He gave the beautiful Suchitra Sen one of her memorable roles in Deep Jele Jaaye. The work of Tapan Sinha is prolific and is situated between commercial ingredients and thematic and technical variety. Anjaan Choudhary was one of the filmmakers who brought the public of Bengal back to cinema halls. His Kabuliwala was based on a short story by Rabindranath Tagore. His 1962 film, Hansuli Banker Upkatha, showed the mastery in the tradition displayed by Satyajit Ray in which popular melodies play an important part. His other films include Atithi, Apanjan, Bancharamer Bagan, Antardhaan, and Wheelchair. Tarun Majumdar is also one among the last commercial filmmakers to have continued to link with quality Bengali cinema of the period from 1930s to the 1950s. Indeed he stands out as a solid director capable of meeting the expectations of his public, the middle classes. His adolescent romances like Balika Badhu and Dadar Kirti entertained the masses. He showed that he could handle more serious subjects with Sansar Simantey (1975), an endearing and realistic story about love between a prostitute and a thief. Satyajit Ray literally revolutionised the way Bengali films were made. Many of his films had their sources in the Bengali literature. His genre filmmaking was in the league of the legendary filmmakers like Akira Kurosava. Satyajit Ray gifted the Bengali cinema industry with some of its most gifted performers. Another director, Ritwik Ghatak will be remembered for his truly offbeat masterpieces. This genius was unnoticed, even ignored and ultimately met a tragic end. But his films have survived and even today they compel the audiences to ponder. Another outstanding filmmaker is Nirmal Dey. He tried to bring about a fusion between the realism of the pre War-period and the expectations of the entertainment of the urban people. Mrinal Sen films, on the other hand, deal with contemporary issues. A veteran director, he is known for his sensitive and humane portrayals. Nabyendu Chatterjee is closer to the art house cinema and has made 10 feature films to date. Atmaja, Aaj Kal Porshur Galpo, Parashuramer Kuthar, Shilpi, Sauda and others were his creations. Amongst the recent filmmakers, Rituparno Ghosh, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Gautam Ghose, Aparna Sen, Anjan Dutta, Sandip Ray, deserve special mention. They are not only churning out great masterpieces that reflect the current state conditions of the people of Bengal, but are also making artistically superior films that are being appreciated in international and national platforms. Aparna Sen is an actor turned director who had made several interesting films in Bengali. These include Paroma, Paromitar Ek Din, 15 Park Avenue and The Japanese wife Since the 2000s, a new breed of Directors like Sekhar Das, Atanu Ghosh, Raj Chakrobarty, Arin Paul, Riingo, Srijit Mukherjee, have emerged and improved the state of Bengali commercial cinema. Although they don`t portray themes of parallel films, but they make a great connection with the rural audience, churning out box office hits. (indianetzone.com)


Satyajit Ray


Ritwik Ghatak


Mrinal Sen


Aparna Sen


Rituparno Ghosh


Buddhadeb Dasgupta


Tarun Majumdar


Gautam Ghose


Tapan Sinha


Sandip Ray


Debaki Bose

- Agradoot
- Premankur Atorthy
- Bappaditya Bandopadhyay
- Riingo Banerjee
- Amit Bose
- Debaki Bose
- Nitin Bose
- Satyen Bose
- Shonali Bose
- Arjun Chakraborty
- Haranath Chakraborty
- Kushal Chakraborty
- Raj Chakraborty
- Basu Chatterjee
- Aniket Chattopadhaya
- Amar Choudhury
- Anjan Choudhury
- Anjan Das
- Chidananda Dasgupta
- Utpal Dutt
- Anjan Dutta
- Kaushik Ganguly
- Atanu Ghosh
- Sujit Guha
- Dinen Gupta
- Goutam Halder
- Ajoy Kar
- Rabi Kinagi
- Ayan Mukerji
- Aravind Mukherjee
- Sounak Mukhopadhyay
- Suman Mukhopadhyay
- Purnendu Patri
- Arin Paul
- Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
- Bimal Roy (Bengali film director, mostly Hindi films)
- Prabhat Roy
- Shakti Samanta (37 Hindi and 6 Bengali films)
- Hiralal Sen
- Raja Sen
- Subrata Sen
- Manick Sorcar
- Swapan Saha

Links:

calcuttaweb.com
History of Bengali Cinema
Indian Bengali Cinema
HISTORY OF BANGLA CINEMA

Bengali films (India) on Mubi by Year

 

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Varun Anisetty

29Jan12

Fantastic list!!!!Very Very helpful...thank you so much!!

Kolar likes this

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apursansar

5Aug11

Needless to say this is now one of my absolute favorite lists on this site. I'm happy to see the great though little known master Tapan Sinha among the highlighted directors, his "Nirjan Saikate" is one of my favorite Bengali films.

Kolar likes this

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Kenji

5Aug11

Great stuff!