Round Up 2019 – Best Bengali movies of the year 2019
2019 is about to end and it is the time to look back and do a yearly recap. This year Bengali movie industry goes through a remarkable change. From big to small, all production houses started shifting their focus to original content saying no to remakes. As a result we see very few remakes and all those were rejected badly. Hope this trend will continue and production houses will start investing on good writers and come up with interesting subjects in future. Here comes a list of Best Bengali movies of the year 2019, in the order of their release dates.
[Note – this list has no connection with box office performance of the films, the list has been made solely based on the content of the films.]
Many directors have made movies about a woman trapped in a man’s body, about same sex relationships, about transgenders but Kaushik Ganguly’s Nagarkirtan combined all these topics efficiently in a sweet love story. A story of of two innocent people who belong to middle class families from small town. They are not familiar with the concepts of sexual orientation, same sex love, sex change operation, they only know that they love each other and want to spend their life together no matter whether their love gets acceptance or not. This innocence and immaturity of these two characters made this love story more sweet and different from other same sex love stories. Both Riddhi Sen and Ritwick Chakraborty gave their finest performances in the lead roles. Apart from that, Shirsha Ray’s stunning cinematography, Subhajit Singha’s efficient editing and Prabuddha Banerjee’s soothing music made this film an experience to remember for a longer time.
Mukherjee Dar Bou
Director Pritha Chakraborty’s debut movie Mukherjee Dar Bou was a very realistic take on the bitter sweet relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. The characters and their situations were so real that everyone in the audience easily felt connected with it. The film not only highlighted the problems of every household but did a root cause analysis of the problem and offered some simple and realistic solutions as well. The film also highlighted the taboo related with mental health in middle class families. The casting of the film was quite refreshing, none of the two leading ladies Koneenica Banerjee and Anashua Majumdar are popular stars but both of them are good actors. The makers identified their potentials and extracted remarkable performances from them. A socially relatable issue, combined with humor, drama, emotion and some good performances made this a complete family entertainment package.
Kia And Cosmos
Some movies are made purely for the creative satisfaction of the film maker without considering film making as a business, Kia and Cosmos by debutante director Sudipto Roy was one such personal film. He did not made any kind of compromises to make it more appealing in terms of business, his only focus was to narrate a story close to his heart. The central character of the film was a 15 year old girl who is suffering from pervasive developmental disorders. Ritwika Pal made a terrific debut in this character. Swastika Mukherjee was equally brilliant playing her mother. The best thing about the story, written by director Sudipto Roy himself, was that it touched upon a lot of things without making it complicated. It was one emotional drama about a mother daughter bonding, it was also a whodunit thriller for some parts, at the same time it was a coming of age story of a young girl. The good thing was that the film was about a special child but it never asked for any sympathy for her. Not for a single moment it tried to be emotionally manipulative taking advantage of the shortcomings of the protagonist.
Jyeshthoputro, directed by Kaushik Ganguly took a closer look at the personal life of a popular public figure. This film showed how the growing popularity among masses takes a man far away from his own roots, his personal relationships. Through a simple narrative Kaushik Ganguly captured many layers of complex human emotions. More than telling a story the main focus of the film was to develop layered characters. The talented actors in the lead cast gave life to those well written characters. Two extremely talented actors of Bengali cinema, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Ritwick Chakraborty shared screen together for the first time and it was a sheer pleasure to watch these two in same frame. The actresses Gargee Roy Chowdhury, Sudiptaa Chakraborty, Daminee Benny Basu and Shreya Bhattacharya, all of them were impressive in their parts. In fact it was a film where performances over shadowed the story. It may not be remembered as one of the best films made by Kaushik Ganguly but it will be certainly remembered for a long time for the finest performances by all the actors.
Konttho, directed by Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy was a film about a very sensitive subject that is Laryngeal cancer where the organs related to voice gets affected and a person can lost his voice too. There is a generic convention that, if a film is dealing with a serious subject then it has to look and feel serious and it has to be limited to festival circuits only. But the good thing about Konttho was that the director duo made a complete mainstream entertaining mass appealing movie remaining true to the seriousness of the subject. Despite of being predictable, the screenplay was engaging throughout as it progressed in a very convincing path. So far Shiboprosad Mukherjee was mostly known for doing comedy but in Konttho he showed a completely different side of his acting talent. Jaya Ahsan also surprised everyone with her amazing performance in a completely different character from her regular on screen image. Music of the film was another highlight and the way the songs had been incorporated in the narrative is commendable.
The way writer duo Shubhendu Dasmunshi and Dhrubo Banerjee, combines Bengal’s culture, history and traditions along with regular puzzle solving format of a treasure hunt, that makes the Guptodhon franchise movies different from other treasure hunt movies. They had done that in Guptodhoner Sondhane and they continued that trend even in a better way in Durgeshgorer Guptodhon. Once again the writer duo proved that hidden treasure does not only mean precious gems and jewelries rather Bengal’s heritage itself is a treasure that needs to be discovered. This time the story unfolded in the backdrop of a Durga Puja in a Zamindar family which provided an extra opportunity to add some trivia on Bengalis biggest festival Durga Puja also. One must praise Shubhendu Dasmunshi for writing the devotional songs efficiently which were also doubled as clues for the treasure hunt. Once again Abir Chatterjee was impressive as Sona Da with required sharpness and intelligence.
Srijit Mukherji’s Gumnaami, which was based on facts and evidences presented during the hearings of Mukherjee Commission, was a bold attempt to talk about a topic that has been tried to keep secret by everyone having the authority for more than seventy years. The film highlighted three most popular theories about Netaji’s disappearance giving almost equal importance to all these three theories. Getting all the information about Netaji was not that difficult for the makers as most of the research work was already done by Anuj Dhar and Chandrachur Ghose but to accumulate so much information within the short time span of a feature film was quite challenging. Srijit Mukherji did that efficiently filtering out the most relevant information. Making a film based on true historical events that too in a limited budget of Bengali film is not an easy task but Srijit Mukherji manged that with his expertise as a story teller and with the help of a talented technical crew. Make-up , costumes, production design everything was very much well researched that helped the film to give an authentic look. Make up artist Somnath Kundu deserves an extra mention for his amazing work to recreate the different looks of Netaji and the other historical figures. Prosenjit Chatterjee’s transformation as Netaji and Gumnaami Baba was incredible. Anirban Bhattacharya shined once again in a well written character.
Whenever director Arindam Sil has made a detective film, his movies do not remain just a whodunit crime thriller rather he skillfully adds some drama revolving around human emotions in those films. Mitin Mashi was also not an exception. It wonderfully captured the emotional side of Mitin along with her skills as a detective to solve crime. The film was based on Late Suchitra Bhattacharya’s story Hate Matro Tinte Din, that revolves around the kidnapping of an eight year old kid. Padmanabha Dasgupta and Arindam Sil had wonderfully adopted the story to a simple yet engaging screenplay. The good part about the screenplay was that it kept showing the personal life of Mitin also in between the investigation process, it helps the audience to connect more with the character as well as it provided a refreshing break in between. Sanglap Bhowmik’s editing and Sunil Rodrigues’s stunts added more thrill to the film. Koel Mallick dominated the film with her powerful performance. She transformed herself completely for making her convincing as Mitin. Vinay Pathak also made an impressive debut in Bengali movies.
Music composer turned director Indraadip Das Gupta’s debut directorial Kedara was an ode to solitude. It captured beautifully the psyche of a lonely man and the world around him which is an amalgamation of imagination and reality. The film is an example of film making as a true art form made by a creative cast and crew who consider film making as an art not consider it as a business. Their genuine passion for this art form was visible in each and every frame of the film. With his debut attempt, Indraadip Das Gupta has surprised everyone with his strong visions as a story teller. Subhankar Bhar’s cinematography is exceptionally well. Sujoy Dutta Roy’s skillful editing helped for a smooth merger between the real and virtual world of the lead protagonist. Anirban Sengupta’s efficient sound design played a crucial part in the film. Kaushik Ganguly gave his career best performance in the lead role. Probably no other actor could have done justice to the character like this. He was ably supported by Rudranil Ghosh.
Ghawre Bairey Aaj
Apart from being a noted filmmaker, Aparna Sen is also known for being vocal about the current socio-political situation of the nation. Often she keeps expressing her views through social media platforms and some other activities and it wont be wrong to say that the film Ghawre Bairey Aaj was an extension of that. But that does not mean that it was just a propaganda film rather it was an well crafted thought provoking film based on a relevant subject with an earnest effort by a skillful cast and crew. Hats off to the production house Shree Venkatesh Films for backing up such brave subject. Aparna Sen skillfully adapted the basic idea of Rabindranath Tagore’s Ghare Baire and planted it to the current turbulent political scenario. The script developed the tension between the three central characters brilliantly. Although the second half was weaker with an unrealistic climax but one can not deny that the film had enough haunting moments that left long lasting impression. Once again, Anirban Bhattacharya proved his versatility and dedication as an actor playing both young and older version of his character effectively. But the show stealer was definitely the leading lady Tuhina Das.She beautifully captured the inner turmoil of her character through her expressions. One must wonder why this talented girl had to wait so long to get her first big break.
There were some other movies that could not make it to the list but those were partially good and deserves a special mention.
Bijoya was a perfect successor to Bishorjon. The screenplay was weaker compared to the first part but that was compensated with excellent acting, wonderfully written dialogues and a soulful music.
Shah Jahan Regency
Shah Jahan Regency was a well made adaption of the classic novel Chowringhee. Although the script had some scope for improvement but still it was an enjoyable watch because of the strong acting performances, smartly written dialogues and soothing music.
Bhobishyoter Bhoot was a bold political satire. The screenplay was scattered with too many sub plots and characters but it provided enough funny moments to enjoy throughout the film.
As a psychological thriller Vinci Da was average with some loopholes in the script but it is praise worthy for highlighting the contribution of a make up artist to develop the characters and the film.
Tarikh was an well made film on a refreshing idea with some excellent performances. It had several layers in the character and plot development. But it was appealing to a selected section of people only who are intellectually aware.
Rajlokhi O Srikanto
Rajlokkhi O Srikanto was a personal adaptation of a classic novel with mesmerizing performances and soulful music. It was a true example of independent cinema by an independent film maker who do not care to go by rules.
Sagardwipey Jawker Dhan
Sagardwipey Jawker Dhan was a nice blend of treasure hunt thriller with science fiction with some impressive visual effects. Despite of some short comings it was engaging watch for most of the part.