Tollywood at 2019: Looking back at the movies you can't afford to miss
Filmmaking in India and especially, regional cinema, is fraught with risks. It’s a perennial fight against lack of producers, dwindling standalone theatres, good hall timings, Bollywood and Hollywood big-budget movies. But despite it all, Bengali filmmakers take the risk and continue to churn out good content. Some click and some don’t. But that doesn’t stop the young, new and old directors to make movies they believe in. The year that passed by was no exception either, where newcomers and masters made a few exceptionally good movies, which might have failed to achieve the numbers at the box office, but have only made the world of Bengali films richer. Here are five such gems. Do check them out even if they are not running in any theatre right now!
With only one show in the afternoon at Nandan (as we go to press on Wednesday), this movie by National Award-winning master filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta that released on December 13, surely deserved more attention. With unfulfilled dreams and desires of the modern man being the central theme, the film has heartrending performances by actor Chandan Roy Sanyal.
This very poignant story of love will stay with you for a long time after you have left the theatre. But Ahare, by the sensitive filmmaker Ranjan Ghosh, couldn’t make much business despite being a very well-made film. Starring Arifin Shuro, Rituparna Sengupta and Paran Bandyopadhyay in the lead, this is a delicately told love story of a young widow and a chef, who has come from Bangladesh after a case of a heartbreak, to make it big in Kolkata. You can perhaps catch this soon on any of the OTT platforms.
Another stunning film by National Award-winning filmmaker actor Churni Ganguly, this movie deals with the eternal pain of a close one’s demise, and the various emotions and realisations it evokes among loved ones. But sadly, this movie wasn’t appreciated by the audience as much as Vinci Da or Basu Poribaar, that had simultaneous releases.
GHAWREY BAIREY AAJ
Described by filmmaker Aparna Sen as her most political film ever, Ghawrey Bairey Aaj is pegged against the backdrop of political and social unrest, where an extra-marital affair has been effortlessly weaved in. If for nothing, the film is a must-watch for Anirban Bhattacharya’s brilliant portrayal of Nikhilesh Chowdhury, an Oxfordbred liberal journalist who runs an anti-establishment newspaper. Catch the movie on any of the OTT platforms, where it’s likely to be up soon.
KIA AND COSMOS
What happens when a 15-year-old girl sets out on an arduous whodunnit journey, to find out the killer of a neighbourhood cat? That’s what the story of Kia and Cosmos is all about. But despite great acting on part of newcomer Ritwika Pal, Swastika Mukherjee and Joy Sengupta, and deft direction on the part of writer filmmaker Sudipto Roy, the movie didn’t do that well at the box office. It’s now on Netflix and highly recommended, if you haven’t yet watched it.
And the ones who made it despite the odds...
MUKHERJEE DAR BOU
The director was new, the actors were not stars, and the plot was a simple tale. But 31-year-old filmmaker Pritha Chakraborty won the hearts of the people with her debut movie Mukherjee Dar Bou, which told a poignant story revolving around the lives of a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law in search of their individual identities that somewhere got lost in the maze of life. A soul-touching story, this film made the audience rediscover veteran actor Anashua Majumdar.
This movie, directed by Arindam Sil, proved beyond doubt that a female-lead movie can very well be a money-spinner. This year’s Puja saw Mitin Mashi fighting at the box office with one of the biggest releases of 2019, Srijit Mukherji’s Gumnaani, starring none other than Tolly star Prosenjit Chatterjee. But despite that, Mitin Mashi, starring Koel Mallick in the lead, became the second-highest grosser during the Pujas, proving once again that Bengalis just love well-told detective thrillers.
Unknown director, small production house, even smaller budget, no star presence and a woman-oriented script — these factors put together couldn’t stop Sweater from becoming a super-hit movie. Directed by Shieladitya Moulik, the movie starring Ishaa Saha in the lead role, is a touching story of a girl finding her self-confidence and self-worth. And, we simply loved the fact that, for a change, the girl didn’t need a Prince Charming to change her life.
There were speculations in the industry at large about how the audience will react to Parambrata and Rudranil as Byomkesh and Ajit, respectively on screen. A young director (Sayantan Ghosal), a dry plot, absence of Satyabati’s character and, to top it all, the audience simply loves and adores Abir Chatterjee as their Byomkesh — the odds were many. Brushing aside all of this, Satyanweshi Byomkesh, which released during the Pujas with other biggies including Gumnaami, Mitin Mashi and Password, surged ahead despite lack of good shows, riding solely on the power of content and performance.
With not a single movie of filmmaker Raj Chakraborty doing well at the box office for a couple of years, the stakes were really high around Parineeta. Also, a comeback movie for his wife, actor Subhashree Ganguly, Parineeta became a hit on the merit of its story, and a great performance by Subhashree.