THE  CINEMA OF BIMAL  ROY ---   AN ‘OUTSIDER’ WITHIN

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THE  CINEMA OF BIMAL  ROY

  AN ‘OUTSIDER’ WITHIN

The Author Shoma A Chatterji is a freelance journalist for last 50 years, renowned Film Critic ,Author of many  books on Cinema, National and other Award winner  for excellence in writing on cinema.

This book is an outcome of her painstaking thorough research work and analysis of the films of a legendary stalwart film maker Bimal Roy,fondly called  Bimal Da.The in-depth research material inevitably rekindles nostalgia of purposeful cinema of social relevance originating from B N Sircar of New Theatres in Kolkata, firling the same flag of meaningful films in the then Bombay now called bollywood were the unforgettable veterans  K A Abbas, Sohrab Modi, Mehbook Khan ,V Shataram, Raj Kapoor, B R Chopra and Gurudutt made the milestone films of that genre. To join such shining rank was a challenge in itself but the creative chasm of Bimal Da not only generated and sustained but further nurtured to make his own niche in the rank of stalwart Hindi film makers.  The simple and quiet persona and creative talent of  an outsider to be within the stream has been meticulously brought out by the author with psycho-sociological and analytical synthesis of the Cinema of Bimal Roy .Author, not only as an unsparing critic and cineist discussed the nuances from his films but also laced the narration with her own intimate anecdotes and personal direct encounters she had with him as an occasional family member to add authenticity to his realistic, soul stirring  , humane  and entertaining film maker who used to create  his art as a skilled  craftsman while being a person of few words. The book enlightens  us with an auteur Critique in Bimal Da and his cinema with textual and contextual analysis.

The huge legacy of Bimal Roy is not confined to his par excellent, socially relevant and issue based films communicating effectively to the audience  thru’ his 15 feature films but also dwells upon his role as Godfather nurturing cinema talents in large number of Actors, Directors, Editors, Cinematographers, Writers, Lyricists and Music Maestros who made big names on their own coming from the school of Bimal Roy. He was an institution in himself.

Bimal Da, himself a displaced person and migrator from  Rural East Bengal to  Urban Prima Kolkata to Mumbai ,he successfully created that pain with the French Italian neo-realism in his  Cannes “Prix” and  National Award winner , critically acclaimed film “Do Bigha Zameen” a saga how  poor  small farmers are exploited to fall in debt  trap ,forced to migrate to heartless city by way of displacement from the roots and family. Of course such abject poverty and displacement was earlier depicted by Abbas, Mehboob Khan and  in later years by  great Satyajit Ray.

Bimal da made his niche in exploration of women thru’ the cultural Indian traditions with a bit of  assertion of  woman’s individuality through his four  strong woman centric  characters in  “Parineeta” ,”Biraj Bahu”, “Sujata” and “Bandini”. While he projected the essence and spirit of the ethos of Bengali family symbolized by Lalita in ‘Parineeta’,  “Biraj Bahu” depicted the oppression of rural woman ,her devotion to  family and her surrender to  superstitions and societal beliefs.

To highlight the issue of Caste and untouchability , weaved in love, emotions and sacrifices were blended in “Sujata”. Critics labelled “Bandini” as most complete film of Bimal Roy,which was immortalized by the woman Kalayni, a two dimensional character as a coy, feminine smiling and lively village belle to the other dimension as a prisoner ,firm ,silent, serious ,unapologetic and unsmiling woman.

Two films which  remain historic landmarks of Bimal Roy creations and financially successful films are “Devdas” and “Madhumati”.  ‘Devdas’ is the  greatest ever tragic film of a self destructive and a timid lover. As a child Dev was a vagabond, loving  pranks  and mischief. He became  self destructive,  Sadist and then masochist  when cut off from his love and roots.  “Madhumati” was a sweet little film, a marvel in melody and entertainment blending  a strong love story  with reality and suspension of disbelief. While analysing a master film maker Bimal Roy, his strong point of giving allegory or symbolism while communicating a scenic effect should have been added in the book. For instance when Devdas takes liquor in train when on recovery path,Bimal da symbolized it with the train driver putting coal to inflame  the Engine fire, the fatal effect on lever of drinker. When Madhumati is finally trapped by menacing Thakur to his lust, the camera allegorized by a iron grilled partition when Madhumati was fleeing, but cut to sharp shot of a piece of cloth entangled in grill and a howled sound in the background. These were his master touches .

The role of  lilting music, situational song and dance blended in strong script  and  deeply meaningful dialogue was always big in success of his films via Indian cinematic tradition. How the then  top ruling music maestros, lyricists script and dialogue writers like S D Burman , Salil Chaudhary, Shankar Jaikishen, Shailendra, Majrooh, Sahir and Gulzar were skilfully deployed by the doyen is illustrated by the author.

However, as a critic ,I would like to point out certain inaccuracies or omissions  of facts. In “Devdas” the elopement proposal was not only made by Paro before her marriage  which was refused by Dev; but also by Dev after Paro’s marriage which she had refused. And both were justified under societal considerations. The photo of “Do Bigha Zameen”,  Balraj Sahni bowing to Zameendar was played by actor Murad and not by Jaywant as printed. On pg.114 of the book author wrote that in the train Chunnilal leaves the bottle and the glass and Devdas picks it up.But the glass falls on the floor of the coup and so does Devdas. However, in the script copy (which I have) of Devdas and in the film ,it is shown that the glass was already in the hand of Devdas when Chunni alights from the train. But the bottle is kept on the suitcase below the birth. Dev tries to pick up bottle, in the process falls down on the floor. Then the camera

shows both the bottle and empty glass rolling on the coupe floor.

Barring this, the book is a complete analytical and research oriented compendium of the legendary film maker Bimal Roy and his films.

 

--- Mohan Siroya

Written by: 

Mohan Siroya

Category: 

Comments

You have a wonderful memory, and really ought to be writing a book on the history of the film industry from your own experience :)

This is an unbiased critique by you on the 'OUTSIDER' by Ms Shoma A.Chatterjee. It is meticulously worded, imbibing in all the details,spanning the time-line of the great Bimal Roy's contribution to the canvas of Indian Cinema
There is a strong desire in me to read this book.Hope I can lay my hands on it.

Dear Dalton
Thanks for comment. You are aware that there are dime and dozen books as far as History of Indian Cinema is concerned. AS for a book based on my experiences of the bollywood, you should be aware that my first of my 50 years experience in the form of actual published writing was out in 2012 IFFI titled "Golden Sojourn in Bollywood Wonderland Vol. I " released by the then director Shankar Mohan . I have put the page of that book on my Timeline .
Did you not notice it ?

Thanks Kalika.
Sure, you can read it ,you will enjoy it. It is available all over..

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