Showing posts with label personality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personality. Show all posts

Monday, September 14, 2015

Natoker Moto (Like A Play) - More than a biopic a soulful tribute to the group theatres of the 60s

Natoker Moto (Like a play) is a film that certainly will make you think. The film is essentially the journey of Kheya - the maverick, beyond the time, theatre artist, whose untimely death raises questions on the various issues of the 1960s. The socio-cultural scenario, the emancipation of the womanhood, the hypocrisy of the male dominance, the changing face of bengali theatre and of course the indomitable passion for group theatre that had driven the likes of Ajitesh Bandopadhyay, Rudraprasad Sendupta, Keya Chakraborty, Shambhu Mitra to compromise the world against their unfaltering adherence to the cause of drama - a cause they believed in, they lived for.

The movie starts with the Calcutta Port investigation officer investigating the death of a famous theatre personality Kheya who died untimely while shooting for a bengali cinema. She was apparently sank. Suicide or murder - that was the talk of the town and the officer while going through the pages of her diary and while interrogating discovers the changing equation of the various relationships in the life of the actress. As the truth unfolds the officer confronts the changing roles of various people whose lives are tangled with that of Kheya's. The mentor and the group leader finds himself a minority while the chauvinistic husband captures the leadership with a majority. The changing roles bring about a change that may be considered as a game changer of bengali theatre. The changing face of idealism makes the mentor walks off and the husband takes over the group theatre. He takes immense pride in acquiring a falsehood while the idealist mentor finds emancipation in walking out.

The other pivotal characters whose lives were tied with Kheya's appear as the officer unfolds some beautiful relationships with that of the professor, writer-poet, childhood friend. But the most important of all was certainly with that of her mother. A mother with all cliques fights, yields and stands with Kheya in all her  nonconformist decisions, right from her decision to marry the college beau to joining the group theatre, to leaving her job as a professor to walking out of the marriage to deciding to giving off her gold jewellery or to act in movies in an endeavor to raise fund to the dying theatre group.

Debesh Chattopadhyay, the director, takes us through the interludes of reality and stage stretching over two decades (1950 - 1970). Subtle yet precise the delineation of the character of Kheya from a next door household girl to a strong free spirit whose indomitable courage to fight for her cause was beautifully portrayed. Paoli Dam as Kheya is a delight to watch. It's mind boggling to watch the Hate Story girl transform into Kheya with so much conviction. 

Paoli Dam immortalizes Kheya. She leaves a mark in all the scenes. In the stage scenes, while enacting Antigone, Noti Binodini, Proposal, she was brilliant. She even gives her voice o the song Ami jokhon meye thaki, a fresh composition by Debajyoti Mishra, very naturally. It would be unfair not to mention the rest of the actors who effortlessly did their role playing with equal finesse. Having said that the ensemble cast with the likes of Rajatava Dutta as the Calcutta Port investigator, Sujan Mukhopadhyay as the professor, Ushashi Banerjee as the poet, Rupa Ganguly as the mother, Saswata Chatterjee as the husband and Bratya Basu as the mentor, can never go wrong. 

The last scene is epic. The camera pans on Kheya's face which after much pain and sorrow is now poised on the river. This is followed by a long shot of Kheya's mortal remains wrapped in a 'Murshidabadi silk' floating downstream as Mousumi Bhowmik's Ami shunechhi sedin tumi plays in the backdrop. Amid this the pertinent questions like, "Dol-er jonyo theatre na, theatre-er jonyo dol" or every suicide is a murder put us to serious thinking.

Natoker Moto even though not really a biopic has strange resemblances with the artistic journey of the theatre artist Keya Chakraborty who had met a similar untimely death shrouded in mystery in March 1977 at the age of 34. She was shooting for Swadesh Sarkar's Jeevan Jey Rokom.

I came to know about this much later when everyone was talking about the biopic thing. The film was believable even without any preconceived notion. That for me was the success of the debutante director. The last scene, the portrayal of the theatre personalities along with the uncanny similarity in their names leave us wondering if Kheya and keya are actually the same person. Having said this, more than a biopic, Natoker Moto is a soulful tribute to the group theatres of the 60s by a passionate theatre artist of the current era, Debesh Chattopadhyay.

Natoker Moto is a must watch and you would want to watch it second time round. The last scene is a poignant rendition by Mousumi Bhomick's of Ami shunechhi sedin tumi. This for me was an insatiable climax that sipped into my being leaving me choked. I came out of the hall with a promise to relive the multi dimensional journey of the free willed artist who continues to live on embracing the living art form yet another time.

Photo credit and source: Natoker Moto, Timesofindia, Wikipedia

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Big Fat Surprise: The myth of High Carb Low Fat diet explained

NinaTeicholz's "The Big Fat Surprise" is all about everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. The book, impeccably researched, is a fascinating read and is full of wow moments. Through years of scientific researches and dietary experiments. the nutritionist and journalist, Nina comes out with the amazing fact of how more and not less fat – including the saturated animal fats (dairy, eggs, meat) actually leads to better health. She actually insists that low fat and high carb diet introduced in early 50 years ago in the US is actually a commercial connivance led by a top nutritionist and the federal government.

Years of rigorous diet (low fat high carb) did not quite lessen the obesity and other health issues (cardio vascular disease, obesity, diabetes etc.) in the country. In no time the good fat is being replaced by high carb food resulting in atrocious toxicity in our health meters. The good fats are nutrient dense food as opposed to the empty and bad calories of high carb diet. Carbohydrate is nothing but sugar and we all know by now that toxicity associated with it. The factual evidence that the book is accentuated with is remarkable and believable. Even though the book has severe critiques in the medical practitioners, nutritionists and health gurus, it unrolls some serious evidence based health facts.  

Nina is critical of one man who she thinks is deeply flawed. In her own words: 

“Our distrust of saturated fat dates more than 50 years, and can be traced to just one man: a bullying, charismatic but revered pathologist named Ancel Keys, whose quest for fame caused him to run roughshod over basic scientific standards. His deeply flawed “Seven Countries” study was the “Big Bang” of all our nutrition recommendations today. In an effort to quickly address the terrifying heart-disease epidemic, Keys persuaded the American Heart Association and ultimately the U.S. government to subscribe to the notion that saturated fat was our chief dietary culprit. Fat generally — and saturated fat specifically — came to be blamed for causing heart disease, obesity and cancer. Eventually this unfounded belief became ingrained as our national dogma, and many of our most esteemed nutrition scientists today endorse this idea based on the same kind of soft science that originated with Keys.

The book, through austere diet trials, shows how high-fat, low-carb diet is better for fighting obesity, diabetes and heart disease etc. An amazing read and the book has been successful in addressing the basic dietary myths. This book documents how 'misunderstanding, misconduct and bad science' caused generations to be misled about nutrition.

"The Big Fat Surprise" is a pageturner and is available in Kindle, Paperback and Hardcopy versions. Buy your choice but do buy it. To begin with, you may get intimidated by the factual data and the citations (more than 100 pages) but trust me the intriguing story telling of Nina Teicholz will never fail you. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Remembering Fr Boris D'santos

I have known Fr Boris since his days of ailment – not a great time health wise but was enormously empowering for me and many like me who have been fortunate enough to have sat with him. He would always exude great positivity even when his health was failing him. His health was deteriorating and he had to visit the hospital often. I remember him sitting in recluse, composed and with a face that never ceased smiling. He would wait without complaint. The waiting times were the happy reminiscencing times. 

Father Boris was rendered the best possible med-help, and with Rev Brother Chintamani SJ around things were always sorted out. Brother is the best possible gift to theSt Xaviers  infirmary and he is the person who had been Father Boris’ companion til his last breath. 

When I last met Father Boris, he was extremely frail and feeble. Amidst that, he told me not to cease doing the work I was doing. That was the last time I saw him and the lifetime of virtue that he induced going to stay with me forever.

Rest in peace -Rev Fr Boris D'santos

1934 - 1914

Father Boris, the long-serving former vice-principal of St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta, passed away on !3 August 2014. He was 80.

My rendevous with ST Xavier's College, Calcutta 

The day that was at ST Xavier's College, Calcutta 

Photo credit: St Xaviers


Sunday, June 23, 2013

'Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013' (Cloud capped star) is a befitting tribute to the neo-realist Film-maker Ritwick Ghatak

Kamaleshwar Mukherjee's "Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013" is a touching tribute to the Bengali film maker, Ritwick Ghatak, who is remembered for his 'non-linear narrative' in Indian cinema.

The narrative starts with a scene in the year 1969 and revolves around the period that the legendary film maker had spent in a mental asylum in Alipore, Calcutta. The well known film maker, Nilkantha Bagchi, is taken to the mental asylum by his wife Durga and the doctor, S P Mukherjee, takes charge of him.. Bagchi's alcoholism and momentary aberrations drove him to a state of intellectual instability. He is critically attacked as a wasted drunkard and an intellectual fool by the so called poseurs of the time. His enormous creativity, that started in the fifties, got him inclined to poetry, prose, journalism, film scripting and finally to parallel cinema. A true communist, he never conformed with the norms of the contemporary times. Uncompromising and bitter, he always did what he felt right, what his heart told him to do. For him cinema was a medium to express his sociopolitical ideology. His insatiable urge to feel the pathos and pains of the common man is evident in a series of heart warming films that he narrated so empathetically. He believed in portraying the stark reality of the contemporary life and criticized the cliched 'dancing in the rain' genre . He also had put aside series of alluring offers from the Bombay Film Industry (Filmisthan studio). When his friends deviated to main stream cinema, compromising on their collective ideology of Communism, Nilkantha Bagchi stood firm in what he believed in. The partition of Bengal, the naxalite movement, the hunger cry of the distressed people never really left him. Throughout the film, Nilkantha's 'mental agony, struggles, inner contradictions, disappointments as well as financial troubles' are depicted with interludes of flash backs and the present times.

The voracious creative genius went on to dream to stage a play with the inmates of the mental asylum. The contradictions and the pathos are horrifically portrayed by the way he was taken to undergo the terrible shock therapy in between.  

Nilkantha Bagchi dies before the actual performance of his dream play. His wife Durga had been his conscience all through his life. She managed a job as a teacher and got separated from him hoping that the children would get a better future but was never out of touch.The film ends with the death of Nilkantha Bagchi. The director does it beautifully -  with the same signature continuity with which Ritwick Ghatak's films usually ended. The poignant rendition of how the dead man walking tall, along with a novice woman coming from East Bengal with a 'potla' clinged arms and anxious eyes, is a climax just perfect for a new beggining.

Cast and crew

Direction, story, screenplay: Kamaleswar Mukherjee
Music direction, background music: Debojyoti Mishra
Cinematography: Soumik Halder
Editing: Rabiranjan Maitra
Dance choreography: Tanusree Shankar
Saswata Chatterjee as Nilkantha Bagchi
Abir Chatterjee as Doctor S. P. Mukherjee
Joydeep Mukherjee as Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Abhijit Guha as Salil Choudhury
Padmanabha Dasgupta as Kali Banerjee
Anindya Bose as Mrinal Sen
Bidipta Chakrabarty as Shobha Sen
Biswajit Chakraborty as Charuprakash Ghosh

The film is touching and is beautifully done. It has poetry, drama, reality and sweet pathos that are typical of Ritwick Ghatak's films. The rendition of the transitions and the references of Ritwick Ghatak's works is finely tuned all through the movie. The audience may find it hard to get into the quintessential fervor of the movie if they are not acquainted with Ghatak's genre. It's a good idea to watch the films of Ghatak and then watch 'Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013' again to get the best of it.

The whole film is shot in black and white except  for the last scene where the protagonist walks out and diminishes to the colorful horizon. The sequential music and the dance interludes are aptly used. The song with the ganasangeet ethos "mode kono nasha nai....' is too poignant and touches your heart straightaway. Saswata Chatterjee as Nilkantha Bagchi has once again left a mark. He is one of the finest actors in Bengali cinema now - this film goes to prove that once again. Ananya Chatterjee, Abir Chatterjee and Subhasish Mukherjee did justice to their roles. Kamaleswar, who had been intrigued by Ghatak's views on life and society did a fantastic job with the treatment of the film as well. 

When asked about the title, Kamaleswar Mukherjee in an interview:

'The reason my film is called "MDT" is because Nilkantha, despite being a star, is covered in clouds. The title will also create a connection between Ghatak and my film's hero, Neelkantha'.

"Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013" has been criticized by Ghatak's family for not being able to depict the humorous side of Ritwick Ghatak. The happy side is being obscured by the desperation and the dejection and much talked about alcoholism.

I would like to watch the movie again just to understand the subtleties and the references more. Also, the death of Nilkantah Bagchi is shrouded in mystery. I kept wondering if that was how Ritwick Ghatak actually died or it was just the director's take. The film makes me want to watch the neo-realist film maker's works again. I would like to remember Ritwick Ghatak as the obscured star of the Bengali Movie fraternity and the film 'Meghe Dhaka Tara' is a befitting tribute to him. Kudos.

Images: Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013, IPTI
Cast and crew: Wikipedia

Friday, June 21, 2013

The day that was at ST Xavier's College, Calcutta

It had rained heavily yesterday and I thought of postponing my visit to St Xaviers College to visit the Fathers. I specially wanted to see Fr Mani who is not keeping well of late. Brother Chintamoni, a very special person in my life wanted to come down to my workplace to take me with him. It was thoughtful of him indeed since it was raining cats and dogs. I somehow convinced Brother not to come with the promise of visiting him if the rain had stopped. It did. Later in the evening, around 4 pm, the rain stopped leaving the city with water everywhere. e to take me with him. It was thoughtful of him indeed since it was raining cats and dogs.

My visit to St Xaviers was long pending. So, I did wish for the rain to stop. Happy and wet, I walked up to the next block to get a cab. It was very messy outside and a cab driver finally came to my rescue. The road was full of traffic, water and murkiness and the cab finally dropped me in front of one of the metro gates and charged some extra bucks which I agreed to pay. I was already running late and did not want to waste more time. Brother was waiting for me. His worried face soon transformed and he gave me his signature smile. He greeted me with lots of sweets, chocolates and warmth as always.

From there we went to see Fr Mani who was reclining in the library of the infirmary watching TV. I met Fr Neol, Fr Bruylants and 65 novice students in the corridor. Fr Noel was having his evening walk and was delighted to see me and we exchanged some old jokes. Finally, I arrived at the infirmary. Fr Mani and another Father were watching a movie in AXN. I smiled at Father Mani and  he smiled back. It was a smile full of apprehensions. 
Before I proceed further, I should tell you more about Father Mani. Father Mani is a beautiful person. The kind of person who always exudes love, happiness and a person who is funny in his own ways. 
Till the day before yesterday, I knew him to be always like that. He was also the minister in charge of the important portfolio of SJ. When I met him last, he was fit and fine. However, a few days ago, he had an emergency when he got dizzy, nearly fell and had a paralytic attack. Later, he was diagnosed with brain hemorrhage. It felt horrible to see him like that - down and depressed. I would always like to see him as the hale and hearty person that he was.

Feeling bad and helpless, I returned soon after with a heavy heart. Get well soon Fr Mani. You are in my prayers.Your true spirit is being missed and we all love you.

Also read:

My rendevous with ST Xavier's College, Calcutta

Image: (C) MouD

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In memoriam: Rituparno Ghosh

You are what you are.The demise of the director, actor, activist and one of the most creative people in recent times, Rituparno Ghosh, is not just another death. His death is the death of creativity, death of impeccable insightful peek into human psyche and death of poetry in prose.

Rituparno's life did not read like a poetry though. There was no rhetoric behind his conspicuous film and fashion statements. With all that pricks hard and deep, he finally got to live his life in his own terms. He may have critics that were more interested in his personal orientation than in his works, there may have been people who would look at him with aghast, there may have those who would demean him as manipulative, fame hungry, cross-dresser. But, at the same time, there also have been people who would continue to shed tears, stay still and stay speechless, with a dominating sense of deja vu and overwhelming awe after watching the new wave films. These are the same people who did not falter being critical every now and then.

"Chitrangada", the last film of Rituparno Ghosh, is essentially an befitting answer to all the askance. The other side? It has been an inspiration to many who share similar sexual orientation. He truly has lived his life like he has always wished to. However less a time, he has gotten to live his live in his own terms -  celebrating his sexuality with conviction, finally. This should be the only gratifying thing. How else, can we live without being part of his cinematic frames? One film per year - enough impetus for the whole year. Now, only shuffling through the ever new old films. Rituparno Ghosh we are never going to stop missing you.

RIP Rituparno Ghosh

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rituparno Ghosh's ‘Chitrangada’ is a wish to choose your own life

Chitrangada’ is a story of a ‘crowning wish’. That’s how the director perceives and films the script. One of the finest film makers of the decade, National award winner film maker Rituparno Ghosh, who has given Bengal film industry a boost after Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, plunges into another fa├žade of same sex relationship. With an edgy subject like this, the director could run into the risk of being obscene. However, he does it in style and with finesse. We have seen the director shaped into a fine actor with ‘Arekti Premer Golpo” and "Memories in March". You have to pick the thread from there and prepare yourself for the watch. Else ‘Chitrangada’ might become a challenging watch.  The subject is bold and intrepid and who else could have dealt with it than the like of Rituparno! The theme depicts individual’s wish and right to choose his own gender - a theme that would have many eye balls rolling. Initially, you will be little taken aback, especially,  if you have not watched the actor in ‘Arekti Premer Golpo'. You have to be also acquainted with the recent sociological orientation of the director turned actor. Over the years, Rituparno has metamorphosed into someone that he had wished to be. He has the conviction and integrity to speak and do his mind - something, which, chimes through the film.
The film starts with the staging of Rabindranath Thakur’s Chitrangada. Chitrangada being the only child of the King of Manipura dresses like a man and is heir to the throne. She sees Arjun in action and falls in love with him. Knowing Arjun will not love her in this form and he thinks her to be a man(Kurupa), she receives a boon from Madan Dev, Hindu god of love, and transforms herself into a beautiful feminine woman, Surupa. Arjun does fall in love with her and the two gets married.

The protagonist’s story runs parallel. Laced with interludes and preludes and series of dilemmas Rudra wishes to undergo sex change operation to adopt a child which he couldn’t have otherwise with a lover of the same gender. The gender change decision was not an easy one and it had to be done technically to satisfy the lover who is strongly inclined to have children. Rudra goes through emotional queries from parents and lot of physical pains and eventually agrees to undergo the process. But by the time Rudra metamorphoses through more than half of the procedure, the lover leaves him for a ' non-cosmetic, non-plastic' girl. Rudra, betrayed and pained, wanted time before the final leg of the operation. The illusionary counselor, in the end, helps him choose what he actually wants, and Rudra aborts the final operation of sex change. He takes off the implants, chooses to stay a man and goes back to his newly draped home to an ever loving mother and an anguished father who expresses himself much later but what a way!

The film is touching with moments that would stay with you. If and when you come with terms with the theme of same sex relationship, you will understand how sensitively challenging it was for the director to choose a tabooed script like ‘Chitrangada’. Rudra, the lover, the girl from the theatre group, the parents and the illusionary role of the counselor are all well thought of and well presented. Having said that, the film has technical flaws which can be overlooked f you are a Rituparno Ghosh admirer. The film may not have the class of Rituparno’s earlier films like Utsab, Badiwali, Doshor, Raincoat, Abohoman, Unishe April, Titli etc., but it touches out hearts for the subtle treatment of the daring theme that might have gotten all over the places if not have taken care of well.  The film is filled with beautiful shots. I loved every time the father, the mother and the son come into the frame. I loved the equation between the father and the son; I liked the part where Rudra gets jealous when his drug addict lover flirts with a wannabe photographer. The humorous interpretation of how Madan Dev is perceived as modern age cosmetic surgeon is quirky. I liked how the angst of a father eventually expressed in a never seen before love.

Dipankar Dey and Anushuta Majumder were natural and excellent. Jishu Sengupta plays the vagabond, drug addict lover with a never seen ease. Anjan Dutta stringed the film sequences into a beautiful garland. It seemed as if Rituparno as Rudra was just playing himself. I didn't find anything different and outstanding about the music. In bits the instruments were used nicely though. 'Chitrangada" is a story of life of a different kind of protagonist – a protagonist who is a man with womanish mannerisms, who truly loves a bisexual man. Looking beyond the gender bias, ‘Chitrangada’ is a story of hope, love, wish, wish fulfillment, heart breaks, pains, miseries, love lost, and a wish to chose your gender. ‘Chitrangada’ is a story of a crowning wish – wish to choose and tell your own story.