Bengali movie industry in India is going to be 100 years old in 2020. In its span of a century, it has gifted many cinematic gems, won many accolades in the country & across the world, and gave textbook to film students and cinephiles. This film industry is still the most creative pocket in our country. And every year churns out some of the best movies in India in terms of content, direction, and acting. One of the best things of the Bengali audience is that they love a movie like “Paglu” (hardcore commercial like any Salman Khan movie) as much as “Autograph” (not so massy movie). That’s why, the content-driven movies, if marketed well, is lapped by audiences graciously. In 2018 also, Bengali movie industry gifted some of the best stories on cinema screens. Here are the best ones that you must watch!
Uma: Director- Srijit Mukherjee
Undoubtedly, this was the best movie from the last year. Based on a true incident of the life and death of Evan Leversage, who lived in St George in Ontario, Canada.
Uma is a young Bengali girl who lives in Switzerland and is terminally ill. She wishes to see the Durga Puja once in her life and spends her days by listening to her Baba (father) who gives microscopic details of Durga Puja in Kolkata. The doctor says to take her to Kolkata and fulfill her wish because she may not live enough. Generally, Durga Puja occurs in October but Uma’s father decides to create a fake Durga Puja all over the city in sweltering April. So, he gets in touch with a “once-renowned & now faded” film director to recreate a fake Durga Puja all over Kolkata and make it convincing. I suppose, this topic was a huge cinematic challenge. But the chiseled director Srijit Mukherjee pulled it perfectly.
At the day’s end, Cinema is something un-real which makes us believe in our “dreams” & gives us wings to fly. This movie also rolled like a dream but the dream was very convincing and you have no other option than falling in love with it. There is a dialogue in this movie – “imagine that God has given you a chance to recreate this universe only for a day, what would you do?”. Through this movie, this director made use of that imagination – very well!
Haami: Director- Shiboprosad Mukherjee & Nandita Ray
From the successful director, here comes a stunning movie about kids. A class I student Bhutu is the best friend of Chini. Chini has recently relocated from Gurgaon to Kolkata and has joined this co-ed school. Now adults also get involved in their friendship and how their innocent friendship survives is majorly the story of this movie. Barring the amazing screen presence of the kids, it was definitely Aparajita Adhya, Knoeenica Banerjee, Gargee Roychowdhury, Shiboprosad – the director himself, and Kharaj Mukherjee have given brilliant performances. Just like the rest of Shibu-Nandita movies, this one will also make you think many things regarding love and relationships.
Bidaay Byomkesh: Director- Debaloy Bhattacharya
I have included this movie in this list only due to the theme. Walking away from the safe road of making an author-backed Bomkesh movie, director Debaloy Bhattacharya chose a different path. He chose to make a spin-off of Bomkesh this time.
Like most people, I was also impressed beyond limits watching the trailer but when finally sat down to watch the movie – I was not so happy! The continuous nostalgic rather sadistic tone of background music became sore to my ears. But hats off for bringing this concept on board. The movie shows Bomkesh – the renowned detective is old now and lives with his family sans Ajit (the friend) & Satyabati (the wife). His son is missing for years and he lives with a hope that someday he will solve that mystery. The movie sees Abir Chatterjee in a double role of Bomkesh & his grandson and needless to say he was terrific in them. The movie is watchable for him!
Shonar Pahar: Director- Parambrata Chattopadhyay
Parambrata Chattopadhyay, the actor has directed quite some movie and Shonar Pahar is his fifth movie. Till date, this is his best! There is a bit of lack of pace in this movie but overall this movie would take you down to a very nostalgic ride. It will evoke those black & white days of Soumitro-Tanuja too.
The story is basically about this septuagenarian lady who loves her son blindly. Her son stays apart in another flat as she couldn’t adjust with his wife. Being a very protective and possessive mother, she is in an emotional turmoil who has become cranky because somewhere she feels neglected and unloved by her son. There are many flashback moments that registers the solid friendship this mom-son duo had shared once upon a time and now they don’t even talk. So, one fine day, she befriends a 7-year-old child Bitlu who is terminally ill and with him, she starts living life again. A very simple and innocent tale – that’s what you will remember after the end credit rolls!
Guptodhoner Sondhane: Director – Dhrubo Banerjee
Unlike any other movie industry in India, Tollywood produces the most number of thriller movies. All kinds of thrillers are found here be it psychological or criminal. Most of them are based on the classic stories of Feluda and Bomkesh. Now, leaving those two here is another mammoth detective named Sona Da aka Subarna Sen – an Oxford professor. He visits India and finds that some relative of him has kept a treasure. And this movie is about that treasure hunt journey by solving riddles, fighting goons, and of course, applying that “mogojastro” (grey matter). The treasure is 350 years old Mughal treasure that belonged to Shah Jahan’s 2nd son Prince Shuja. Directed by Dhrubo Banerjee, this movie is brave and the box office figure says that it must come up with a series.
Uronchondi: Director – Abhishek Saha
As a society, we need more of this kind of cinema truly. Three women belonging to three different generations, cultural setup, and belief system forms a friendship because they had no other option. Their journey has no destination and everyone is actually running from something. Each of the female protagonists has dealt with their own battles and heartbreaks. And now they simply want to break loose. The elderly woman is the one suffering from “child neglect at old age”. The young woman is a runaway bride who is going to her lover who later discards her for eloping (as that is evil in that small village). The middle-aged woman is cheated by her husband and that’s why takes his truck and sets on a journey. It is a beautiful film about normal human emotions and it will also make you think your thought-base too.
Maati: Director – Saibal Banerjee and Leena Gangopadhyay
How far can you go to know your roots? How far can you go know a person you have only heard about? This movie is about a Meghla who took up history in her post-graduation just out of the love for this subject that is backed by her family’s tragic tale. She grew up knowing about the traumatic tales of migration (from Bangladesh to West Bengal). Her grandfather came to West Bengal with her dad leaving her grandmother alone there who was reluctant to leave the ancestral home. Meghla’s grandmother was killed by the goons whose descendants now live in that same home. In this journey, she gets to learn about a culture that stays in a different map and yet so similar. Truth, ideology, and humanity – all change succumbing to the changing “time” and it leaves behind many scars of relationships – she learns that beautifully.