Countdown to the Film Fest in August 2019

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5 August 2019

The COUNTDOWN to our event this month has begun!

Post 1 – Stating today, we will feature the filmmakers and/or the films that we will be showcasing as part of our Partition Commemoration from 16-19 Aug at Jadunath Bhavan.

We start with our Guests of honour from Bangladesh – Tanvir Mokammel & Akram Khan.

The Partition has featured prominently in Tanvir Mokammel‘s work. This comprehensive interview in ‘The Daily Star’ gives us a very good insight into all aspects of that artistic preoccupation.

It discusses in detail both the documentary & feature of his – ‘Simantorekha’ & ‘Chitra Nadir Pare’ – that we will screen on Day 3 & Day 4 (Sunday, 18th & Monday, 19th August), respectively.

 

6 August 2019

COUNTDOWN – Post 2

Based on a story by Hasan Azizul Haque, ‘Khancha’ (The Cage, 2017) is Akram Khan’s 2nd feature as a director. It was selected as the Bangladeshi entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

In this Jamuna TV interview, Khan talks about the long time it took him to make this film, the cast and the characters they portray, and the innovative use of songs in the film.

“Jawar akankha, kintu jete na para” (wanting to leave, but not being able to) – this is the dilemma that this partition story dramatizes, said Khan, when asked to elaborate on the title.

We will be screening ‘Khancha’ on Day 4 – Monday, 19th August.

 

7 August 2019

COUNTDOWN – Post 3

Here’s a clip from Supriyo Sen’s ‘Way Back Home’ – that will be screened on Day 3, 18 August. Bhaskar Sarkar will be in conversation with the director before the screening.

This poignant documentary is about the journey undertaken by the director’s parents to Barishal, 50 years after they were forced to leave it in 1950, owing to mounting communal tensions (in what was then East Pakistan). The film is divided into two parts – ‘Abar Ashibo Phirey’ (I shall return yet again) & ‘Kalpanar Swadesh’ (Imaginary homeland).

It won the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues, among others.

 

8 August 2019

COUNTDOWN – Post 4

In director-duo Leena Gangopadhyay & Saibal Banerjee’s first feature film, ‘Maati’, Meghla – a young lecturer of history in Kolkata – finds out that her grandmother had been killed in her ancestral home in East Pakistan by a trusted retainer of the family. Decades after the tragedy, she goes to Kutubdia to trace her roots and faces the murderer’s family who now occupy her house.

‘Maati’ (2018) is a plea for renewed trust and understanding between a dividedpeople. It is the 3rd West Bengali film in 3 consecutive years (after ‘Shankhachil’ in 2016 and ‘Bishorjon’ in 2017) that is taken up with the contemporary ramifications of Partition. And interestingly, the porous Bengal border finds its way in almost every story. The porosity, in fact, makes the stories possible.

However, the operative metaphors in the 2 other films, of the borderless river and free bird – though poignant and poetic – are dispensed with in ‘Maati’. Its idealism is of a different kind: it doesn’t say that the border doesn’t exist or that it is fallacious; it doesn’t envy the natural world for blithely ignoring the rules of the human either. It just emphasizes the need for a conscious effort by humans (especially with contested histories) to remain humane.

We will screen ‘Maati’ on Day 3, 18 August.

 

9 August 2019

COUNTDOWN – Post 5

Kaushik Ganguly’s ‘Bishorjon’ (2017) is a love story between a Bangladeshi Hindu widow (Padma) and an Indian Muslim businessman (Nasir) – brought about by one of the annual openings of the Bengal border on the Ichhamati river at the time of ‘bishorjon’, the immersion of Ma Durga. (A sequel, ‘Bijoya’, was released earlier this year).

‘Bishorjon’ was judged the ‘Best Feature Film in Bengali’ at the 64th National Film Awards.

This lovely track is by the late Kalikaprasad who died an untimely death before the release of the film & was equally mourned on both sides of the border.

We’ll screen ‘Bishorjon’ on Day 2, 17 August.

 

10 August 2019

COUNTDOWN – Post 6

While the Border Security Forces try hard to maintain security on the India-Bangladesh border, it is common knowledge that it is routinely crossed illegally by those on the borderlands, mostly for reasons of livelihood but sometimes also for medical emergencies — like the hapless village school-master Badal (Prosenjit) and his wife Laila (Kusum Sikder) in Goutam Ghose’s film ‘Shankhachil’ (2016), who are forced to fake identities and cross illegally into Taki in West Bengal for an immediate treatment of their daughter Rupsha (Shajbati).

It was chosen as the ‘Best Feature Film in Bengali’ at the 63rd National Film Awards.

Goutam Ghose will introduce the film before its screening on Day 2, 17 August.

The video here shows a clip of the making of the film, from the 40th sec onwards. The first bit is about ‘Moner Manush’ (2010) – a biopic of Lalon fokir – another Indo-Bangladesh production helmed by Ghosh with the same team & with the same lead actor. Ghosh’s first Indo-Bangladesh venture, however, was way back in 1993 – ‘Padma Nadir Majhi’, based on the novel by Manik Bandopadhyay.

 

11 August 2019

COUNTDOWN – Post 7

Srijit Mukherji’s Rajkahini, with Rituparna Sengupta playing the lead. It’s about how a brothel keeper, Begum Jaan, and her 11 inmates defy the Radcliffe Line that passes through their brothel, refusing to budge from their ‘home’.

 

12 August 2019

COUNTDOWN – Post 8

Ritwik Ghatak’s films are one of the most powerful artistic articulations of the trauma of displacement consequent upon Partition. The cultural unity of the two Bengals was an article of faith with him. He never accepted the Partition: it became an obsessive theme with him that resulted in a memorable trilogy – Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-capped Star), 1960; Komal Gandhar (E Flat), 1961; and Subarnarekha (The Golden Thread), 1962.

In them, he highlighted the insecurity and anxiety engendered by the homelessness of the refugees of Bengal; tried to convey how Partition struck at the roots of Bengali culture; and sought to express the nostalgia and yearning that many Bengalis felt for their pre-Partition way of life.

We will be screening ‘Komol Gandhar’ on our Inaugural day on 16 August. Renowned Ghatak scholar, Prof. Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay, will give a general introduction to Ritwik Ghatak’s films before its screening.

‘Komol Gandhar’ revolves around the progressive theatre movement in Bengal in the early 1950s, set against the memories of Partition. The protagonists, Bhrigu and Anasuya (Supriya Chowdhury and Abanish Banerjee), belong to two rival theatre groups; but they come close because of their shared passion for the theatre and their shared longing for the homes they had to leave behind in East Bengal. This film was one of Ghatak’s own favourites because of the challenge of operating at different levels: in it, he drew simultaneously on the divided heart of Anasuya (who is torn between Bhrigu and Samar, the man she was betrothed to years ago, now living in France), the divided leadership of the theatre movement, and the pain of divided Bengal. But his audience was not prepared for such a complex film. [and rejected it out of hand].

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