In the wrap up for the segment of Bengali Cinema in 2018, here is looking at the best and worst of what was on offer this year. A disclaimer here is that this retrospection is based on around the twenty odd films of the year that I watched of the ones that got theatrical releases. I did not get an opportunity to catch up on some of the films that technically did festival circuits this year only, and will find a larger release only in 2019.
Honestly, there wasn’t a lot to rejoice and celebrate in bengali films this year. There were a handful that ranged from decent to ones that had potential but became missed opportunities (Aami Ashbo Phire by Anjan Dutt, Uma by Srijit Mukherji or Guptodhaner Sandhane by Dhrubo Banerjee), there were a lot that disappointed, and there were so many whose trailers were off-putting enough not to spend energy on watching them (Kishore Kumar Junior, Manojder Adbhut Baari et al.).
The biggest disappointments of the year were – Drishtikone (Kaushik Ganguly‘s remarkably poor film where art suffered for the unnecessary lure for commerce), Haami (Yet another jarring, over the top melodrama from the house of Nandita Sibaprasad with no regard for cinematic sensibilities), Criss Cross (An interesting premise of intersecting stories of 5 different women, gone totally wrong by the overindulgence of Birsa Dasgupta), Aschhe Abar Shabar (The weakest execution of all Shabar films so far by Arindam Sil unnecessarily oversexualized for no reason) and Bidaaye Byomkesh (Only one way to describe this attempt by Debaloy Bhattacharya – terrible!)
But amidst all the mediocrity, there were a few films that really stood out as the Best of the year, and will be celebrated for very long.
Generation Aami (Director – Mainak Bhoumick) – A film that paid homage to Pather Panchali in its own way, was quite an engaging and relatable coming of age drama of the teenager Apu, who find his flight through the wings of his cousin Durga. The film primarily works because of these two central characters, their equation and the pretty good performances of Rwitobroto and Sauraseni to make them real. It could have been a much better film though had it kept the drama consistently under control and got the elder generation to play to the same tonality that the film attempted. A good watch nevertheless. Read the complete review here: GENERATION AAMI : Wants to Fly but Loses its Path
Best Films of The Year:
3. Ek Je Chhilo Raja (Director – Srijit Mukherji) – This film marks the return of Srijit Mukherji to the core strength of his craft, staying away from the language of over indulgence that have marred all his recent films for a few years. After long, Srijit makes his film stand out on the basis of a good subject, great cinematic build up and some excellent performances. The first and the second acts of the films especially work very well and the grandeur and aura of the period is beautifully built up with the meticulous production design and excellent music. The film loses some grip in the third act due to some unnecessary subplots, but its the strength of the performances, especially of Jisshu Sengupta and Jaya Ahsan that helps the film soar back to glory. Read the complete review here: EK JE CHHILO RAJA : The King is Reborn
2. Shonar Pahar (Director – Parambrata Chatterjee) – Shonar Pahar is a wonderfully heartfelt story about a suddenly found friendship between two most unlikely people, an aging lady struggling with her solitude, and a young innocent and lonely boy, both craving for love and companionship. Led by an masterclass performance of Tanuja and the delightfully vibrant Srijato Bandopadhyay, the film tugs at your heartstrings at the right places and delivers a long lasting emotional experience soaked in sensitivity. Jisshu and Param beautifully enhance it in their own capacity, without trying to encroach upon the warm and fuzzy center-stage journey of Upama and Bitlu. Its quite an experience! Read the complete review here: SHONAR PAHAR : Innocence is Bliss!
1. Ahare Mon (Director – Pratim D Gupta) – It is very difficult to describe the beauty of this film, but in a nutshell Ahare Mon is beautiful, pure, real and so full of heart! Creating a perfect collage of emotions, Pratim D Gupta takes us on a wonderful journey of seven central characters each seeking love, hope, tenderness, thrill and closures in life in their own ways. Together they make Ahare Mon a vibrant kaleidoscope of life – enriched with emotions, leaving you with a smile in your face, or a lump in your throat, and fully satiated! A brilliant screenplay, excellent performances from the entire ensemble, and well blended musical score together with taut overall direction makes this film very special – one that is for keeps and one that will grow further with time! A true celebration of cinema, and of life! Read the complete review here: AHARE MON : Beautiful Collage of Emotions!
So that was the journey of Bengali Cinema in 2018. Which were your favorites? Hoping for a much better 2019 overall, and with a line up of Bijoya, Nagar Kirtan, Jonaki, Jyeshto Putro, Shahjahan Regency and a host of other films, it has started to look exciting. Hoping for a great year at the cinemas!
Copyright ©2018 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.