Indian Cinema Beyond Bollywood – Day 2
Saturday, March 17th,
at the Balboa Theatre…
Bird & Beckett presents day 2 of
“Indian Cinema Beyond Bollywood: Contemporary and Classic Bengali Films from Tollywood”
A Five-Days Festival of Films
at the Balboa Theatre
Saturday, March 17th:
3:30 pm – Antaheen
directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
6:00 pm – Ami Aadu
directed by Somnath Gupta
8:30 pm – Iti Mrinalini
directed by Aparna Sen
Each of the films screening today excels in its cinematography, editing and sound work, as well as the directorial excellence and ambition that brings out fine performances in Bengali cinema’s best actors– seasoned professionals and newcomers alike. Bengali cinema is surging forward on several fronts– with new and newly revived production companies backing filmmakers and technical talent bristling to launch projects that will engage international audiences and hold their own domestically against the Bollywood machine. We’re excited to be able to sample the efforts of this storied and forward-looking industry as it marks out fresh territory in a global film landscape.
Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury followed up his 2006 debut film, Anuranan (Resonance), with the film Antaheen (The Endless Wait) — continuing his investigation into the ultimately unknowable intricacies of human relationships, where intimacy and strangeness, assumptions and misconceptions play havoc with love. For this effort, Antaheen was awarded Best Film at the 2009 National Film Awards — India’s Oscars equivalent. Rahul Bose (just seen by our audience in Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife from the following year) plays the role of a Kolkata policeman caught up with a television journalist played by Radhika Apte, while Aparna Sen and Kalyan Ray are an estranged older couple with personal links to Bose and Apte, whose own story plays out in delicate counterpoint.
Somnath Gupta’s Ami Aadu (Sound of Love) begins with two characters who fall directly and deeply in love with one another and marry — though their relationship is complicated by the religious differences between their two families and then is sundered by the economic circumstances that compel Suleman, played by Samardashi Dutta, to go in search of work to Iraq. It is 2003, and the American invasion and ensuing war in Iraq reverberate not just on the banks of the Tigris, but also back home in a village on the banks of the Padma in Murshidabad, where Aadu, played by Debalina Chatterjee, hangs on the voice of her distant husband, played back on the cassette recorder he has bought from his first earnings and sent home to her as a gift to maintain their communication over the impossible distance that separates them. At the last, she speaks into that tape recorder to maintain and make strong the bonds that will allow that love to beat on until the distance can be obliterated and Suleman can return home. “The line-up of Tagore, Gandhi and Tendulkar in a schoolgirl’s scrapbook remains incomplete without the inclusion of George Bush and the American GIs. And the fate of families in Amodiya is determined by the events unfolding on the banks of the Tigris.”– The Telegraph (Calcutta).
Ami Aadu is the first offering of the newly revived New Theatres studio, proud inheritor of a half-century tradition in the Tollywood film production industry. In its heyday, New Theatres gave Indian cinema such icons as Prithviraj Kapoor, Bimal Roy and Debaki Kumar Bose. Today, Romita Bose Sircar has taken over the mantle of her grandfather, B. N. Sircar, who founded the studio in 1931, made a huge mark with the original 1935 production of Devdas and maintained the studio’s dominance all through the 1940s. When we say that Tollywood was the source of so much that made Bollywood the richest film industry in the world, this is the legacy we mean!
Aparna Sen’s Iti Mrinalini (Yours, Mrinalini) is her ninth film in her 30-year career as a director, which started in 1981 with the acclaimed 36 Chowringhee Lane, for which she won “Best Director” at the National Film Awards. In addition to directing this latest film, she also stars in it along with her daughter, the actress Konkono Sen Sharma. This film marks Aparna Sen’s 50-year career as an actress that began with films under the direction of the great Bengali director Satyajit Ray. In Iti Mrinalini, the real life mother and daughter play the character Mrinalini at two ages in this story of an aging actress composing the suicide note that ultimately needs not to be signed…
On Tuesday night at the Balboa, March 20th, the final night of our festival of Bengali films, Aparna Sen will appear in a starring role in Satyajit Ray’s Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest). Also on the bill: Ray’s 1969 adventure flick for kids Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha) and Mrinal Sen’s formidable film, Calcutta 1971. $5 buys you admission to all three films on Tuesday!
Check out the classic New Theatres logo of the 1930s on our blog. click here!
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