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Monday, November 11, 2013

अमिताभ बच्‍चन का संबोधन

कोलकाता फिल्‍म फस्टिवल में अमिताभ बच्‍चन ने बंगाली सिनेमा के इतिहास की सरसरी झलक दी। उममीद है कभी वे हिंदी सिनेमा पर भी कुछ ऐसा बोलेंगे। 
My speech at the Kolkata International Film Festival ...

SPEECH FOR KOLKATA FILM FESTIVAL 2013
November 10, 2013 NS Stadium, Kolkata


Mananeeya Mukhkhya Mantri, Mamtaji,
The very celebrated and distinguished members on the dias .. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Namoshkaar !

Onek purono kotha mon-ey pore jaaye… taai abaar aapnaader kaachhey esechhi… aapnaader jamaai… ayeebaar aapnaader meye, aar amaar bou Joya ke neeye…

boro-der ashirbaad o chhotoder bhaalobashaa chaayitey…

This is my second visit to the International Film festival of Kolkata, and I would like to express my extreme gratitude to the Chief Minister, for extending this invitation to me, giving me pride of place, great honor, and the privilege of being in the company of the most passionate and loving audiences that I have ever experienced in any part of the World.

Onek dhannobaad !!

International Film festivals, such as the one we are all present at today, gives lovers of cinema the opportunity to witness and applaud works of the great artists from, not just different parts of the country, but indeed from the entire international community. The varied styles and presentations of their stories, educate us about their culture and ethics. They draw us into debate and discussion and leave us in appreciation of their creativity.

The inspiration for most works of cinema, has to me, been the contribution made by the written word. Writers therefore, hold in my very limited opinion, the most important key to a finished creditable product.

It can be said without any doubt that the written word and the lyrical quality of the language of Bengal, has always found recognition the world over.


Bengali literature ..Banglaar shaahittyo, .. its poetry… Banglaar kobita .. shobaai ke moogdho korey de(a)ye… has mesmerized all that have been exposed to it ..

Dwijendra Lal Ray’s popular song, glorifying the land, may be known to many ..

“Dhono dhanney pushpey bhora amaader ayee boshundhora
Tahaar maajhey achchey je (a)ek shokol desher sheraa
O shey swapno deeye toiree shey je sriti deeye ghera…
(A)Emon desh-ti kothaao khujey paabe na ko tumi
Shokol desher rani shey je amaar jonmobhumi!”

It becomes imperative therefore, to recognize and tabulate, on this auspicious occasion of the opening of an International Film Festival in Kolkata, the groundbreaking cinema history of Bengal. To acknowledge and pay obeisance to the fact, that its films have been enriched with abundant examples from local literature, epics, classical stories and folklore - films that have not only reflected urgent social realities, but also given Bengalis their splendid intellectual identity and egalitarian attitude.

The first silent Bengali film, released in March 1917, in a temporary tent on the Calcutta Maidan, was ‘Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra, a black and white feature based on Hindu mythology and directed by Rustomji Dhotiwala. The film is also credited as the earliest remake in Indian cinema, as it was a re-creation of the first Indian feature film, ‘Raja Harishchandra’ by Dadasaheb Phalke made in 1913.

Throughout the silent film era, there are many examples of plots based on well-loved mythological tales as well as traditional fiction. You had Rustomji Dhotiwala once again dipping into the epics to make ‘Mahabharat’ in 1920 and Jyotish Bandopadhyay making ‘Bishnu Abataar’ and ‘Dhruba’ that same year, followed by ‘Nala Damayanti’ in collaboration with the Italian director, Eugenio de Liguoro.
In 1921, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s ‘Krishnakanter Will’ mounted in 1927 and ‘Durgesh Nandini’ and ‘Kapaalkundala’ filmed in 1929 were also pioneering movies of that early period.

A perusal of the silent films during the 1920s reveals a variety of subjects based either on the classics or the writings of the Big Three of Bengali literature - Rabindranath Tagore, Saratchandra Chatterjee and Bankimchandra Chatterjee.

Tagore’s play ‘Bisarjan’ was the foundation for Naval Gandhi’s much-acclaimed 1928 feature ‘Balidaan’, which was showcased by the Indian Cinematograph Committee to demonstrate, that serious Indian cinema could match Western standards.

Tagore, apart from being a Nobel Prize winner for Literature, was also involved with the art of cinema in its nascent stages. He is reputed to have written the inter-titles of Modhu Bose’s 1928 film ‘Giribala’, and is also credited with attempting to direct the early Bengali talkie ‘Na(o)tir Puja’ made in 1932, based on his own dance drama.

‘Devdas’ is a classic example of how Sarat-babu’s protagonist has fascinated filmmakers not only in Bengal but all over India. ‘Debdas’, a novella published in 1917, had a silent version in Bengali made in 1928, directed by Naresh Chandra Mitra and starring Phani Burma.
The first widely influential version was directed simultaneously in Hindi and Bengali in 1935 for New Theatres by Pramathesh Barua.
Barua cast himself in the lead for the Bengali version and the legendary playback singing star, Kundanlal Saigal starred in the extremely popular Hindi version.
In 1955 Bimal Roy remade ‘Devdas’ with Dilip Kumar, Suchitra Sen and Vyjantimala considered still, a landmark in Hindi cinema.
‘Devdas’ has also been made in Telugu in 1953 and 1974, and in Malayalam in 1989. It has two more Bengali versions directed by Dilip Roy in 1979 and by Shakti Samanta in 2002. That same year Sanjay Leela Bhansali also mounted his opulent version of the film with Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwariya Rai and Madhuri Dixit.

Here then, is a single example of how a fascinating story of unrequited love emerging from Bengal, has fired the imagination time and again of an entire nation.

Sarat Chandra Chatterjee was, indeed, the creator of many novels that inspired filmmakers through the years. The author had a strong affinity with the oppression of women in Bengali society, and his natural empathy, found a fresh voice in cinema. ‘Majhli Didi’ made in 1967 by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and ‘Swami’ made in 1977 by Basu Chatterjee are good and credible examples.
‘Chhoti Bahu , made in 1971 is based on his novel ‘Bindur Chheley’ and dwells upon the plight of surrogate motherhood.
His classic novel 'Datta' that focuses on the growing attachment between an affluent Brahmo woman and a penniless but brilliant young man, a Hindu, was adapted into a Bengali film in 1976.
Think of the Bengali and Hindi versions of ‘Biraj Bahu’ and ‘Parineeta’ or the wonderful Bengali adaptations of his autobiographical work, ‘Shrikant’ .. or even ‘Khushboo in Hindi by Gulzar which was inspired by his work entitled ‘Pandit M(o)ashay’ and you will see a litterateur’s social conscience interpreted time and again on the silver screen.

The Talkies gave films based on literature a whole new dimension. Dialogue, now brought the stories alive for the audience and the use of song and music heightened the emotional quotient.
Throughout the thirties and the forties films largely kept to the adaptations of mythological stories or novels by Tagore and Sarat Babu. But blowing through the screen was also a newborn nationalistic fervor mirrored in films like ‘Anand Math’ based on Bankim Chatterjee’s immortal novel.
This period witnessed many established writers coming into contact with cinema. In 1929, two journals made their appearance in Bengal dealing exclusively with cinema - one was the ‘Bengali Bioscope’ edited by the writer Sailajananda Mukherji and the other was’ Filmland’ edited by Chittaranjan Ghosh. Their contributors included a number of renowned literary figures of the day. Literary periodicals like ‘Bharati’ and ‘Prabasi’ would carry film reviews and general discussions of cinema from time to time. ‘Naachghar’, a journal devoted to the performing arts, would be quite regular in publishing essays on cinema through writers who were voicing a general concern about films, its social role, moral and aesthetic standards and patriotic allegiance.
A large number of the writers ( from the ‘Kallol’ and ‘Kalikalam’ group, a group that were considered the almost aesthete and elite group of writers) were also now directly engaging with the industry. A host of them went on to make careers in films, some, joining the industry mainly as actors.
It was only natural that more writers would take up cinema for discussion and would - more often than not - touch upon the connection that cinema had or ought to have, with literature.

The Bandopadhyay trinity - Tarashankar, Bibhutibhushan and Manik - broke out into a new era of realistic writing style. Bibhutibhusan and Manik had long standing influence on two of the most brilliant film directors from Bengal - Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak respectively.
The Apu trilogy is as much a tribute to Ray as to Bibhutibhushan Banerjee, and ‘Jalsaghar’ to the filmmaker as much as to Tarashankar. In fact, a large bulk of Ray’s films were adaptations from literature, be it Tagore for ‘Teen Kanya’, ‘Charulata’ and ‘Gharey-Baire’ … his own grandfather’s unforgettable ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’ or more contemporary works like ‘Mahanagar’ based on Narendra Mitra’s novel or ‘Aranyer Din-Ratri’ and ‘Pratidwandi’ by Sunil Gangopadhyay.

Mrinal Sen’s early Hindi film, ‘Bhuvan Shome’, in which I had the opportunity to do a voiceover, was based on a short story by Banaphool.
Tapan Sinha, another celebrated Bengali filmmaker, was often inspired by literature. His ‘Khsudita Pashaan’, ‘Kabuliwala’ and ‘Palatak’ are magnificent cinematic interpretations of Tagore short stories.

One of India’s early women directors was also from Bengal. Manju De directed and acted in ‘Abhishapta Chambal’ based on my father-in-law, Jaya’s father, Taroon Coomar Bhaduri’s celebrated novel.
Even commercially popular cinema directors often turned to contemporary writers for inspiration. Ajay Kar’s ‘Swaptapadi’ starring Bengal’s iconic stars Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen, was based on Tarashankar Bandopadhyay’s novel. His ‘S(h)aat Paakey Baandha’, again based on Ashutosh Mukhopadyay’s popular fiction, won for Suchitra Sen the Best Actress Award at the Moscow Film Festival and was made into ‘Kora Kagaz’ in Hindi some years later.
Harisadan Dasgupta’s ‘(A)Eki Angey Eto Roop’ took its plot from Achintyo Kumar Sengupta’s much admired and stylish novella and was feted at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
During this period several movies were cinematic versions of some of Bengal’s most popular novels and short stories. One glowing example that made motion picture history would be Bimal Mitra’s ageless book ‘Saheb, Bibi ar Golam’ that was initially filmed in Bengali, directed by Kartick Chattopadhyay, before becoming, perhaps, one of, the legendary director Guru Dutt’s, best remembered roles opposite Meena Kumari playing Chhoti Bahu in the Hindi version .. a film, considered, a classic in movie-making even today.

However, for a period of time in the eighties and the nineties, Bengali cinema underwent a change to meet the vagaries of the box office … and this can be directly related to its severance of all links with popular traditions, particularly with literature.

That period soon passed, by the emergence of Rituparno Ghosh, whom we sadly and suddenly lost this year at a very young age. He gave Bengali cinema a completely new ray of hope and often looked at literary works for motivation. His ‘Chokher Bali’ and ‘Naukadubi’ based on Tagore’s fiction are fine examples. Contemporary writers like Suchitra Bhattacharya and Shirshendu Mukherjee also became a source of inspiration for him. In fact, it is exciting to know that many young generation filmmakers in Bengal, with new ideas and new vision, are once again turning to literature for inspiration.
There is expectation then, for a breath of fresh air and exceptional stories once again.. and that shall augur well for cinema in India in the coming days.

Young film makers, not just in Bengal, but all over the country, may like to symbolically look upon what KaviGuru Rabindranath had said many years ago :

“(A)Ebaar tor mora gaangey (pronounced gaah-ngay) baan eshechhey, ‘Jai Ma’ boley bhaasha tori!”


“Your dead banks are flooded again, o Maajhi, just say ‘Jai Ma!’ and row your boats once more!”

Before I conclude, I wish to say that –
Cinema to me, apart from being a great medium of entertainment, has always played the role of a unifier – an integrator.

When we sit inside the darkened Cinema Halls to watch a film –
We never ask, the caste, creed, color or religion of the person sitting next to us.

Yet we enjoy the same film –
We laugh at the same jokes, we cry at the same emotion, we sing and appreciate the same songs !

In a rapidly changing world, seen to be disintegrating with each passing day, cinema is perhaps one of the very few institutions left that brings people together – integrates them.

I am proud to be a small member of this illustrious fraternity –

May the medium of cinema perpetually grow and may it continue to bring people together, with love, respect and greater understanding –
To unite, to hold hands and integrate in friendship and peace for the greater good of humanity …

I wish the Kolkata International Film Festival all success ..

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you ..

Onek onek dhannobaad !

Thank you ..

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