Ganesh Talkies – A Commercially parallel film!

First impression: Anjan Dutt must be terribly pissed off with the recent trend in the industry that felicitates 100 Crore club members and he decided to make Ganesh Talkies. Well my second impression was logically reasoned and emotionally verified. Hope you will have a patient read…

Probably, this will be a critical appreciation of the movie – Ganesh Talkies. With all the speculations going on in the market and a huge section of the crowd trying to defend the veteran director, I would like to take a route upstream. It was June 24th, 2011 when his national award-winning movie, “Ranjana Ami ar Asbona” was released. Two years from then 21st June saw the release of Ganesh Talkies, a commercial film as proclaimed by the director himself.

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In a country, where film making is either business or art, the idea was to blend both of them and present something entertaining. A film not only dedicated to the class, but also for the mass. Ganesh Talkies, the recent motion picture by Anjan Dutt was a potboiler with many distinguishable characters that you can relate to. The story was simple, lucid and heartwarming for the young and the young-at-heart audience who would admire the actor, director, singer and song writer for all his credibility throughout the years. It gathered momentum from some wonderful performances by the actors and subtle skill from the director. A candid narration added some adequate flavor to the story telling and one has to admit that the film truly celebrated friendship and nostalgia like many other movies of Dutt. He had the courage to state some unsaid verses in his symbolic honest mannerism and you can easily find him and his ideologies in every scene of the movie. However, did Ganesh Talkies prove the quality and excitements that it created or did it surpass the expectation of the audiences far and wide?

Theory:  We are subjected to a very innovative style of cinema. A film where we have a typical hero and a heroine, however, the story is more about two people from two different strata of the society who were school friends and presently the parents of the protagonists. Now, how would you like the audience to react? A section of the crowd who wished to see some masala story with the major characters hardly got anything to take away and a section of the crowd, who inevitably watches a Dutt film found the item song unjust, untimely and extremely unpleasant to match with the nostalgia and the under-dog love story celebration. The screenplay lacked clarity at various points.

They say the market is a pyramid and to generate revenue you have to attack the base. So, our director did the same. However, with his intellect and perception of world cinema, he could not do away with the subtle features of film making that bagged him the much coveted national award. Here, he unknowingly disturbs the niche audience as well as the alluring new market.

Anti-Theory: We already have a dozen of directors in Bengal and may be hundreds of them in India who cannot think of a film without an item number. May be, they start writing the story after a catchy item number is finalized. Sincerely, the “jhal legeche” number was not bad at all, the depiction and use of the song shatters the entire gravity of the film, to be honest. Trusting the veteran film maker with his tastes and modernized approach, I felt that even the climax was too co-incidental. Raima Sen hardly had a screen presence and Chandan Roy Sanyal was seemingly uncomfortable in the first half of the film.

Even then, I won’t say the characters were excellent, but they were very real. However, it might be a choice for the audience to accept or argue.The alternate love story, the grey promoters in the city, the ageless friendship, selfless love and the captivating local goons fighting for power were equally emotional and hilarious from time to time. Anyone would rate Ganesh Talkies ahead of a lot of films released in recent times for coherent reasons.

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Story in a nutshell: Pashupati (Biswajit) and Pravin (Rajesh) are childhood friends. Pashupati is planning to marry off his daughter Saban (Raima) to an NRI. But Saban is secretly in love with Arjun (Chandan), Pravin’s son. What happens when both families come to know of their concealed romance? The parallel stories revolve around a lack-lusture single screen theatre named “Ganesh talkies” and some enterprising promoters trying to convert it into a multiplex. A cross -cultural love story with all ingredients to tickle the idiosyncratic relationship of bengalis and marwaris which remains the USP of Ganesh Talkies.

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Suggesting “Jhaal Legeche”

Music and the rest: Unlike other Anjan Dutt movies, music of Ganesh Talkies didn’t turn out to be a memorable record to cherish for a long time. Although, I keep humming the “Na Jaane milo ge Kahan” number now and then, the item song, was definitely an itching experience which persisted even after the “happy” ending of the film. The lyrics of the songs are appreciated by one and all. The camera movements and editing were average baring a few signature scenes that can only be seen in an Anjan Dutt movie. However, as announced by the director himself, it would be unjust to expect anything “extra” from Ganesh Talkies for the same reason that would restrict me to write something about Khoka 420.

To wrap up, Ganesh Talkies is a film that should not be quantified with success pertaining to numbers but hearts won and broken. If this was the maiden attempt of Dutt gambling a different genre of films which is sadly known as commercial cinema in India, I must congratulate the Anjan Dutt for his efforts. The unification of viable (read commercial) films and parallel film making was certainly difficult to achieve and the director, like always breaks off the shackles to deliver something for the audience to chew upon. For those who have seen the movie, I would expect a constructive debate and those who are yet to watch Ganesh Talkies, make sure you don’t miss the transformed Dutt.

A Note to the audience from the desk of mymotionpicture:  In India, creating, endorsing and selling something intellectually crisp and indigenous is becoming extremely difficult. As an audience, if you feel restless and frustrated with the decreasing quality of films, original music, plays etc, do have a look at the mirror and reason your choices when it comes to piracy, downloading, stupid south Indian remakes and everything that disturbs the culture and aesthetics of the city and the country. Look around and let the good film makers derive inspiration from deserving claps and proper recognition. It is truly an ominous sign if sensible film makers of our times tend to change their ways and succumb to shallow stories and superficial entertainment. May be a wake up call!

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Logically Disputing Stories – A tribute to Ritwik Ghatak!

Some said he was unstoppable!
Some said he was unstoppable!
Reflecting on an Indian postal stamp!
Reflecting on an Indian postal stamp!

     An accolade or a tribute to the great film maker and one of the pioneers of Indian parallel cinema, Mr. Ritwik Ghatak seems like a forced act to me right now. I do not know, for how many nights he stayed awake and for how many days he starved out of frustration, although I know how his works gives me a vision. I know how terrible my future will be if I do not take lessons from him. Very irrelevant at this point! However, I urge for a patient read…

Born to a family with poets and play-writers around him, Ghatak grew up watching the sufferings of common men as they migrated to the newer Bengal. His cinemas based on the city outskirts like “Meghe Dhaka Tara” or “Subararekha” spoke a lot about the refugees and the ill-treatment they received from their own realm mates after our country got the so-called independence. The decision of Ghatak, being a part of the film making fraternity was quite indispensable as far as his growing up and his education was concerned.

Ritwik Ghatak -Logically disputing stories!
Ritwik Ghatak -Logically disputing stories!
Ritwik Ghatak - Nagarik
Ritwik Ghatak – Nagarik

From “Nagarik” (1952) to his last film “Jukti Tokko Goppo” (1974), Ghatak was more of a social commentator who believed in the aesthetic feature of film making. In one of his quotes he said, “Film making is not a form of art, it has forms.” He was more inspired by the sufferings of innocent souls and he wanted to portray life with his films. He celebrated grief like no one in this world. His works as a script writer, director, producer, actor, singer and film author would always metaphorically describe some of the major concerns of our plagued society. Sadly, we still live with some of those social evils and pathetically we inculcated each and every habit to live with them proving our logical abilities. This article is going wayward, I know. However, the kinds of message conveyed by Ghatak during his life time were hardly reciprocated. So, let us fasten our thoughts to cinema and pay him a tribute for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema.

Satyajit Ray once said, “For him, Hollywood might not have existed at all” I would still wonder, what exactly the thought was that made him say so. Often while watching a Ghatak movie, I would relate some of my emotions and self-speak, “time basically is so CONSTANT…” The untimely demise of the great man deprived us from better analytics on film making and true characterization. His films hardly had typical Heroes or lead roles. One of his pupils commented, “The heroes and heroines of Ritwik’s films, while their energies are sapped by a society which can sustain no growth, have inner resources that seem to assert themselves. […] He was extremely disenchanted with those of his colleagues who wanted to maintain a false unity and was not, implicitly, pained enough by the splintering of every form of social and cultural values and movement. It is these factors that make Ritwik’s films a vitally generative force for the young. He does not hide behind a medieval or a dead past or a decorative Indianess…Very few of his contemporaries have avoided these pitfalls whether they work in the cinema and the other arts, or in the theoretical and cultural sphere. It is as if they were ashamed of being themselves, today, with their true history.

Poster of Ajantrik...
Poster of Ajantrik…

I have always believed that any form of art has two paths for a potential learner or a practitioner, either you follow history or you define your own path. Ghatak was the pioneer of establishing the thought that film making was his signature language. He interpreted a screenplay with “never seen before” treatments and wished to introduce some new-fangled means to capture motion picture. His efforts in introducing a different and distorted musical forms as background scores, and his experimental form of cinema does hardly reflect in any commercial film maker’s work in times after Ghatak. The parallel or alternate cinema movement in India experienced the trio-preamble of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak as they lead from the front. As described earlier in my blog, Indian film is growing towards debris of senseless Indian cinema apart from a few silver linings behind the black clouds of commercialization, 100 crore clubs and box office illusions!

A still from Meghe Dhaka Tara.
A still from Meghe Dhaka Tara.
The man with the camera that spoke about life.
The man with the camera that spoke about life.

The Indian film Industry was always synonymous to the films produced in Bombay (now Mumbai) and the regional industries were fatigued with similar theater portrayals and poor commercial cinemas with melodramatic stories and baseless song sequences. The trio Ghatak, Sen and Ray gave Indians something more to chew upon. The films made by these film makers are still acclaimed as text materials for film students and even their millionth view have some special delicacies for your mind. However, their efforts and plea to our countrymen are distant echoes. Ghatak died before puking blood for many months! I believe, it was not alcohol and its consequences but the disillusion brought into his life due to the unfathomable pain of being this ill-treated visionary of this country.

Bengal was and is always ahead of the country whenever a discussion on films and other forms of art commence and audiences in Bengal get respect as authors and speakers deliver something that meaningful which hardly gets a resonance in any other part of the country. This is where we are and we are here because Ghatak and his contemporary film makers gave us that recognition! Although an afterthought, a tribute to Ray and a tribute to Mrinal Sen were nothing but an image of what I want to convey here in this homage article to one of the most incredible film makers of this country. My article could hardly reflect his enormous contribution towards Indian cinema, so, for something more meaningful that actually depicts his work I would like you all to go through this.

Signing of from the desk of mymotionpicture till i find some more logically disputing stories to chew upon…

 

Straight from my heart – Muddy E minor- (part-I)

Music has always been a mystical source of enlightenment and entertainment for a mind and soul that longs for realization. I feel music describes happiness of a heart and the sadness of a soul like no other form of art. It has the language that metaphorically connects to the soul of an individual and soothes the scars indented by this materialistic world.

Indian music has a number of layers that can hardly be argued on a mere blog page. The enormous and enriching resource of Indian music leaves me amazed every time I try to estimate its profundity. I am inclined to popular form of music. I prefer a form of music that promulgates hope for one and all, kind of music that speaks about life and its journey towards the ultimate truth. Indian folk music is one of those kinds.  My knowledge about the entire folk music culture of the country is limited and I humbly acknowledge that I know very little about their substantial growth and contribution to the Indian music. I would rather speak about the ‘Bauls’ of Bengal to assert a few philosophies about folk music of this region.

Baul Singer

The word ‘Baul’ came from a Sanskrit word ‘Vatula’ which means insanity or madness of the wind. These Bauls lives their life of renunciation from all the worldly desires and preach the message of love and God as they move around the world. They put heart and soul to their songs which have simple lyrics for one and all. Their music is very similar to sufi music as exemplified by Kabir.  They sing what they feel and their words along with their especially designed musical instruments and organs come together to provoke a tune as soulful as the first rain after the summers.

I shall key my thoughts and emotions about these musical magicians in mymotionpicture in three episodes. I would like to describe a few encounters with some of these Baul singers on the crossroads of my life. If you had a taste of their music, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, I must say that you are deprived of something so heavenly that their songs can explain.  I wish to present some of the immortal Baul songs created in this part of the world in the form of their popular versions recorded on electromagnetic medium in this section of my blog. I am doing a research on the evolution of Baul music in Bengal and its present position.

I expect to return in the second episode of “Straight from my heart – Muddy E minor” with some more facts and souls about these mysterious section of musicians who spend their entire life serving the art and perishing unnoticed on most of the occasions. I invite my readers to one of the famous Baul festivals that take place in Joydev Kenduli and experience the vibrant music and the captivating ambience.

'Ektara', 'Do-tara' and other string instruments including some flutes...

Till the time we unite again on this virtual world, I sign off leaving you with a documentary made by UNESCO on Bauls as a part of their Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Project in the year 2008.