Thoughts on the harrowing ‘Partition’ experience and its reflections in Cinema and other arts…


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Two Crafty “Suhaag Raat” Scenes

Iruvar (Parakash Raj-Revathi)The wedding night or the suhaag raat still has a lot of significance in Indian culture. The conservative Indian society still banishes pre-marital sex and thus the wedding night is supposed to be the first time the bride and the groom make their relationship sexual, with the acceptance of the society. Indian cinema has used and abused the ‘suhaag raat’ scene over the decades of its existence. Often, such scenes make for unintentional hilarity. Only occasionally the wedding night scenes have managed to break through the stereotype. Further in this blogpost, I would like to dwell on two such instances wherein I feel the ‘suhaag raat’ scene was thoughtfully done with craft.


Titash Nadir Ek naam ( A River Named Titash)

Ritwik Ghatak’s cinema doesn’t appeal to all. The idiosyncrasies of his films alienates quite a few people. But there are his staunch admirers as well who consider his cinema to be superior to his Bengali contemporary Satyajit Ray. The two Bengali stalwarts, however, were mutual admirers of each other. The use of sound in Ghatak’s films was indeed peculiar. In the below scene from his 1973 film Titash… , Rajar Jhi, a young girl from the village, marries Kishore, a fisherman from the neighbouring village. As the two are left alone to consummate their marriage, the score is dominated by the exaggerated heavy breathing of the newly wed bride. The use of the heavy breathing in the scene depicts the anxiety of the first sexual encounter of Rajar Jhi. It also depicts the concern of living far away from her home and family, with another person who is nothing but a stranger. The score has to be one of the most experimental use of sound for a wedding night scene in the history of Indian cinema. The scene can also be considered to be a fine example of the peculiar use of diegetic sound in Ghatak’s oeuvre as a filmmaker.



In this scene from the Mani Ratnam classic from the late 1990s, loosely based on the MGR-Karunanidhi friendship-cum-rivalry, the firebrand poet Tamilzhselvam (Prakash Raj) marries a simpleton Maragatham (Revathi). The beauty of the wedding night scene is that we get to know so much about the characters. Tamizhselvam, a socialist who doesn’t have faith in the idea of god. A liberal man who treats men and women as equal. And Maragatham, a naïve young lady brought up by her parents as a devout Hindu. The kind of woman who will never question her husband and will always follow his lead. The trope of saree catching fire would have looked cheesy under the hands of an inferior director but not here. Ratnam masterfully uses the trope to further tell us about the characters and also add the much needed sensuality to the scene (it is a wedding night after all). Santosh Shivan’s use of saturated green of the saree, walls and window and contrasting it with Prakash Raj’s bright white clothes and the superb lighting; Rahman’s tender background score; the intensity of Prakash Raj’s dialogue delivery, all do make the screen burn with the raging fire of desire. The scene packs a bigger impact than that of Anadan and his wife between which it has been sandwiched by the editor. This wedding night sequence, much like all of Iruvar, is a masterclass in filmmaking.

Chander Pahar Movie Review : Ambitious But Flawed

Chnader 4I stagger out of the darkened theatre as soon as the credits begin to roll, and head for the coffee bar. Only when the steaming coffee drops from my numb fingers onto my clothes do I wake up from my near-catatonia and realize that the worst is behind me. I have survived two and a half hours of Dev outrunning lions, elephants, common sense and some weird-looking boss villain called the Bunyip. I am free.Continue reading “Chander Pahar Movie Review : Ambitious But Flawed”

Chander Pahar: Trailer

Chander Pahar PosterPhysician turned filmmaker Kamaleshwar Mukherjee made heads turn earlier this year with his Bengali film Meghe Dhaka Tara, which is a tribute of sorts to the classic film of the same name by Ritwik Ghatak.

The film wasn’t a remake of the classic but instead focused more on a fictionalized account of Ritwik Ghatak’s life and that of Neelkanth, his alter ego and his own character. Now Kamaleshwar Mukherjee teams up with Shree Venkatesh Films once again for an even more ambitious film, Chander Pahar. Based on the popular novel of the same name by Bibhutibhushan Bandhyopadhyay, Continue reading “Chander Pahar: Trailer”

Shyam Benegal: The Master of Indian Parallel Cinema

“Benegal has put up a model of committed film-making in a thoroughly professional manner that could be eminently useful for both the mainstream, with its recklessly expensive habits, and art cinema, with its holier-than-thou attitude and amateurism.”

It is ironical that talking about Shyam Benegal is extremely easy as well as quite difficult at the same time.

Considering the repertoire of films that he has given us over a period of last 35 years or so, it is easy to slot him as the “art-house” director. However, look closer, and the diverse topics that he has addressed over the years, talking about secularism, pluralism, democracy, equality of opportunity, human rights, women’s rights, study of human psyche, superstitious myths embedded in our culture, satire, etc humbles us to the extent that it becomes impossible to gauge the vast repertoire that he possesses about understanding the human nature and the reflections of shifting nature of our social values.Continue reading “Shyam Benegal: The Master of Indian Parallel Cinema”

Meghe Dhaka Tara (2013) : Trailer

Meghe Dhaka Tara-SaswataKamaleswar Mukherjee, a physician turned ad filmmaker ventured into Bengali feature films recently with films like Natobor Notout (2010) and Uro Chithi (2011). And now he’s got not one but two interesting films in the pipeline.Continue reading “Meghe Dhaka Tara (2013) : Trailer”

100 Years of Indian Cinema : Does Regional Cinema work better Internationally than Bollywood?

100 Years of Indian CinemaThe Apu Trilogy, made up of the films Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, instantly placed Satyajit Ray and Indian cinema on the world map in the late 1950s. Between them, the three films won seven awards at the Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals. Continue reading “100 Years of Indian Cinema : Does Regional Cinema work better Internationally than Bollywood?”

Bengali Films -Then & Now…


Richard Gere once said in an interview, ‘To me, Indian films mean Ray films…’

Well, Richard Gere might not be any great actor to be taken seriously. But then, I am sure, you don’t need anyone else to tell you about the magnificence of the man called Satyajit Ray. Filmmakers across the world including greats like Abbas Kiraostami, Martin Scorcese, Danny Boyle and even Akiro Kurosawa have heaved praises on his work. And the man deserved every bit of that adulation. Alas! My post is not about Satyajit Ray; may be in that case I would have had only positives to talk about. My post here talks about the Bengali Film Industry – of which the maestro, even if huge, only a part. Of course, Ray was not the only great filmmaker Bengal has ever produced, and people from that region have shown a penchant towards the art of filmmaking and storytelling – albeit with some major limitations of their own.Continue reading “Bengali Films -Then & Now…”