Bengali Cinema | বাংলা ছবি | The Revival of Golden Age

by Aneek Chaudhuri


A scene from Dena Paona


Bengal, the land has been constantly acclaimed of its rich heritage; then, how can one miss its arts and aesthetics? Now, Cinema is hardly the sole synonym for Bengal, as the state or the city of Kolkata is a sublime container of music, painting, literature, sculpture and everything that can fit in the category of arts and aesthetics. Therefore, Cinema is only a fragment of the city. However, can one imagine what happens when Cinema itself is an amalgamation of all the artistic elements? The same can be experienced through Bengali Cinema. If one is not sure about the dated piece, I am eager to express my suitability concerns of the antique golden era of Bengali Cinema. Here, I will be penning down the revival of Golden age of Bengali Cinema.


Golden Era of Bengali Cinema

Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray


The Golden era of Bengali Cinema actually began around 1950s and lasted till the shading phase of international auteurs like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Bimal Roy and so on (as, the list may comprise directors who were still continuing the regime, but were not complemented highly).

Ritwik Ghatak


The Phase, to be termed as Golden era got eminent representation in Indian industry as well, when accolades were conferred upon Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. This began with achievements such as Legion of Honor and Bharat Ratna to Ray, and French distinctions to Mrinal Sen. Apart from these two legends, Ritwik Ghatak also managed to get into the forefront podium with his pathbreaking cinema such as Meghe Dhaka Tara and Subarnarekha. Being brilliant in his own way, Ghatak actually represented the truth of Bangla that represented agony, hardships post-partition, rather than focusing on urban culture of the city.


Uttam Kumar – A scene from NAYAK

Now, talking of acting, there were actors who could be as brilliant as Marcello Mastroianni, or turn your breath away like Ingrid Bergman used to do. Uttam Kumar, Soumitra Chattopadhyay, Anil Chatterjee, Chhabi Biswas, Bikas Roy, Suchitra Sen, Supriya Devi, Sabitri and the list is long enough to boast about. Among them, Uttam Kumar | উত্তম কুমার stood out to be a glamorous star and at the same time, was quite proficient in his acting skills as well. He and Suchitra, formed the most reputed pair of that era in Bengali Cinema and hence, commercial success was easily to flow into Bengali Cinema along with artistic brilliance from Soumitra, Aparna Sen, Madhabi Mukherjee etc.  Most importantly, the era was gifted with Utpal Dutt; he was brilliant not only with his acting part, but he also had the knowledge to under-act or non-act when needed. However, this was quite visible in other actors as well, Utpal Dutt could treat the screen as a stage and end up as if he is signing off a mere play. In addition to this, comic actors like Bhanu Bandopadhyay, Robi Ghosh, Jauhar Roy were no lesser sorcerers, off-screen.


Influencing Indian Film Industry

Mainstream Indian films had by then fallen to the grasp of Bengali Cinema, which had initiated New Wave Cinema in India. Some of the pathbreaking films that got inspired by Bengali Cinema were Amar Prem, Bawarchi, Angoor etc. Not confined to this, Hindi Film industry got influenced largely by cinematography of Subrata Mitra, and trolley shots used by Bengali Film directors. In addition to this, bounce lighting was the concept that was largely used by Subrata Mitra in Ray’s films and had even inspired many of the French artists.

Revival of those golden days

A scene from ABOHOMAN


As per me, the milestone appeared en-route on the release of many parallel films during the year 2009. The bucket witnessed movies like Antaheen, 033, Abohoman, Kaalbela, Angshumaner Chhobi, Sob Choritro Kalponik and many others. Hence, the year saw a mixture of creations from the acclaimed ones, and of the developing directors as well. Since then, the film buffs have witnessed an evolution in Cinema.


Moreover, this succeeded the era which echoed a struggle to rescue the endangered medium. Now, one can surely sense the output of a worthwhile struggle. Directors like Kaushik Ganguly, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Srijit Mukherjee, Qaushik, Raj Chakraborty are carrying the legacy of cinematic mutiny. Much similar to the golden era, now movies like Bakita Byaktigoto, Bhooter Bhobishyot, Nirbaak, are aspiring Bollywood filmmakers to craft a xerox on the same minus the content par excellence.


World Cinema has entered the market and once again Bengali Cinema has proved to be the show stopper to such a spectacle following a very simple phenomenon i.e. being immensely local, in order to represent itself at a global platform.


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