Bengali Cinema- The End of the Road?

The urge of being intellectual has been haunting Bengali movies for the past few decades, so much so that Bengali directors have literally forgotten the art of storytelling. Nothing is told in a simple, straightforward manner, one of the few basics of good movie making. True, we have witnessed some glaring exceptions in the time frame mentioned, but overall, the quality has been diminishing.

I met an aspiring Bengali director a few days back. The first thing I heard from him about his next venture was that he was aiming for some Golden Monkey or some Silver Orangutan award in some Uganda Film Festival or a Belize Award Show. Not for a single moment, I found any interest in him to create a movie that tells a good story, a show that demonstrates the acting prowess of its actors. Huh?

Bengali films today thrive on the abstract idea that entertaining people is a sin. In their perceived notion, making something difficult to comprehend is the only way to make good movies. Results are evident and disappointing. While the international way of making movies has transcended the so-called barriers of art, commercial or parallel cinemas, we are still harboring the idea that art film is something that common people cannot understand. I urged one filmmaker friend of mine to go and watch the Green Book or Nebraska to understand how in the modern concept of movie making, entertaining or enlightening people with a soulful purpose is considered as the finest form of art. He ended up watching the two movies and was of the conclusion that those were very easy to comprehend! Just imagine the audacity.

Nudity, gore or violence is often considered as the tools to be abstract in modern-day Bengali movies. Illicit relationship, abusive language is often considered by our budding filmmakers as the ways to salvation in the world of creation. When was the last time we watched an original crime thriller in Bengali that hooked all of us and forced us to visit the theatres? You will have to think hard. Our romance with crime starts with Byomkesh, visits the alleys of Feluda, and ends in Shabar. The world outside them is bleak, void, and stifling.

Often, the directors cite lack of resources as the cardinal reason for not creating anything meaningful. This should not be taken seriously. The products they come with even after being offered a considerable budget are ways and means of fulfilling personal gains, expressing personal masochistic understanding of the meaning of entertainment. People become bored, producers horrified, cinema hall owners shellshocked. And only our aspiring director with salt and pepper beard, a sling bag and a dozed Ed Woodish ideas is receiving an award at the Burkina Faso Abstract Film Competition. Who will be producing films in the coming days if pushing the masses away from the cinema halls is the sole objective of the filmmaker?

Bollywood or other films industries in India are now going through a period of transition where young creators are open to new ideas, new concepts but one thing they unanimously accept is that ‘Janata Janardan Hain’. Unless a considerable number of people appreciate their work, what is the purpose of movie making? But who will teach the headstrong fraternity of filmmakers in Bengal?

As I have already mentioned, there are a few purple patches in the Bengali film industry. But those are scanty and are easily outnumbered by the amount of trash being produced in the name of intellectualism. I do not expect another Ray, Sen, Ghatak, Sinha, Ghosh, or even Majumdar to be in action very soon. But I strongly desire to watch some good stories told in simple, comprehensible ways which will make me feel that I have not wrongly forayed into the modern age Bengali cinema with a soul full of hope. The hope of redemption, the hope of good things, the hope of being proud to be a son of the land that gave the world some of the masterpieces of movie-making in a distant past.

My review of Red Notice

My review of ‘Mare of Easttown’

News Reporter

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