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October 25, 2014 Saturday     

Chokh - Bobby Talks Cinema.com

Watching this brutally truthful Bengali film of the early 80s, one has to admit the fact that film-making in India in terms of ‘hard hitting, socially enlightening projects’ was indeed at its peak in the evolving decades of 70s and 80s of the last century. Plus when you get to know that CHOKH (meaning The Eyes) is a film made on the subject of Eye Donation or Transplant, interconnected with the cruel exploitation of mill workers by their opportunist employer, then you just feel like saluting the makers of those crucial times, who actually had the guts to make their films on such burning issues of the society becoming the real eye openers for one and all.
In honest words, I really felt amazed thinking about the actual thought-structure of CHOKH’s script talking about Eye Transplantation way back in 1982 and that too revealing the ugly corruption running in almost every sector of life ranging from businessmen, politicians, police officials and even doctors willing to trade both the donated eyes to a single person only ignoring their own professional ethics & moral duties. Set in the era of mid 70s, depicting the exploitive state of Calcutta (Kolkata) mill workers, it’s the story of an honest union leader, who is being hanged for getting wrongly framed in the cold blooded murder of the mill owner’s brother and decides to donate his eyes just before his final day as per the judgment passed.
The film not only reveals the deep rooted caste system present in our society since ages but also discloses the hidden ugly side of a capitalist structure, where the poor is not allowed any kind of freedom even after his final liberation provided by the Death. With an outstanding use of the ‘Eye Donation’ plot, CHOKH showcases an accepted truth that eyes are in fact the mirror of a man’s real inner personality and a revolution can still be seen in the donated eyes of a rebellious leader even when they are later given to an entirely different person as per his last wish.
As a pleasant surprise the film was produced by the Department of Information & Cultural Affairs of West Bengal Government only despite having a shockingly negative representation of its various public serving departments and later also won the National Film Awards for Best Feature Film as well as for the Best Direction in 1983.
Now if the above mentioned subject matter interests you and such valuable thought provoking attempts are the ones you are always searching for then do watch CHOKH as your next surprising gem for sure (as I have purposefully not revealed the exact storyline of the film to keep your interest alive and burning). Its one of those well-thought of films which increases the respect we have for our own talented film-makers to many folds and stuns the viewer well with a futuristic kind of subject conceived in the early 80s.
Story, Music & Directed By Utpalendu Chakrabarty
Starring : Om Puri, Madhabi Mukherjee, Anil Chatterjee, Shyamanad Jalan, Sreela Majumdar and more.
Tags : Chokh (1982 - Bengali), Movies To See Before You Die Drama, Must Watch Regional gems of India, Worth Watching Film List by Bobby Sing, Not to Be Missed Movies List by Bobby Sing, National Award Winning Must Watch Indian Films, Om Puri in Chokh (1983)
07 July 2014 / bobbysing /
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After the famous Satyajit Ray Trilogies made on the character of Apu and the city of Calcutta (Kokatta), another lesser discussed but immensely important trilogy focusing on the subject of ‘marital discord in urban settings’ came from renowned director Basu Bhattacharya in the 70s. The three off-beat films in this series explored the middle class marriages in the city and the living style of nuclear families after the first few romantic years of their married lives with a thoughtful vision. Made under the banner of Aarohi films, though the projects were not commercially successful at the box office as always, but they did win a wide appreciation and few awards too, touching the young hearts who could easily relate to the characters emoting on the screen.
Basu Bhattacharya's TrilogyThe first in this trilogy is ANUBHAV (1971) featuring Sanjeev Kumar, Tanuja & Dinesh Thakur in the key roles. Shot in black & white format, it’s an artistic film showcasing the shallow, lonely life lived by a successful husband’s wife and the conflicting ego clashes between the two young individuals. Beginning with a fabulous party scene involving a child, the film beautifully incorporates many realistic sequences straight taken out of the real life. And its final hour has some great life teaching dialogues as a third person enters the couple’s life uninvited. Interestingly ANUBHAV is also remembered as the last film of the famous singer Geeta Dutt and her three melodious swan songs composed by Kanu Roy and written by Gulzar.
AVISHKAAR (1975) being the second in the series has two stars of that era, Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore playing the loving rebellion couple going for a love marriage against their family will. The illusions start cracking soon after the few years of their marriage as they get to know each other more deeply. But instead of giving up, the intelligent couple realizes the mistakes they have been making and begin looking for the lost spirit in their cherished love together. An introspective finale shows the couple talking to each other truthfully sorting it all out with maturity and the film did get Rajesh Khanna the Best Actor award at the Filmfare quite deservingly.
The third film in this trilogy aptly titled GREH PRAVESH (1977) talks about extramarital relationship in a middle class marriage, wherein the husband is pretty confused that whether he really loves that other woman seducing him calmly or its just infatuation arising out of boredom felt in his otherwise routine life left with no energy. A timely action taken by the smart wife after knowing the painful truth, gives that much needed clarity to his loving husband and he soon realizes his mistake before its too late. Sanjeev Kumar, Sharmila Tagore and Sarika played the three main characters of the script and the film had a soulful soundtrack composed by Kanu Roy with lyrics once again coming from Gulzar. In fact Gulzar also makes a cameo appearance in one of its songs, as the couple’s close friend visiting them for a musical evening.
Presented in the era when parallel or meaningful films were calmly making their way into the Hindi Cinema, the first two films in this trilogy remain deeply focused on their chosen theme with a romantic & pensive mood followed throughout. Hence they might not be an easy watch for friends used to enjoying the fast paced, fantasy cinema of the present age. Admittedly GREH PARVESH does offer a more comical take on the issue brilliantly depicting the typical office mood in its first hour. But the trilogy ideally needs to be experienced as a more meditative learner searching for many tiny precious diamonds in its realistic execution and insightfully written dialogues relating to our own lives.
For instance in ANUBHAV, as Sanjeev Kumar realizes that he was unnecessarily thinking about her wife’s past, simply ignoring all the recent years lived full of love & passion, he very rightly says that,
"Beeta Hua Kal Aaj Hamare Beech Tabhi Aata Hai Jab Hum Apne Aaj Ko Poori Tarah Jee Nahin Paatey."
And this one life teaching line alone should be inspiring enough to make you go for this rare, must watch trilogy at the earliest.
Tags : Basu Bhattacharyas Trilogy on marital discord, ANUBHAV (1971), AVISHKAAR (1974), GREH PRAVESH (1979), Movies To See Before You Die List by Bobby Sing, Must Watch Movies List By Bobby Sing, Not To Be Missed Hindi Films List, Meaningful Hindi Cienma by the veterans.
03 July 2014 / bobbysing /
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Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam

One of the most appreciated and cherished, tragic love saga of Hindi Cinema is this timeless classic released in 1962, produced by Guru Dutt and directed by Abrar Alvi featuring the elegant beauty Meena Kumari in a memorable role. Based on a Bengali novel titled, Shaheb Bibi Golam by Bimal Mitra, the Black & White film is about the time when feudalism was being abolished in India and the big feudal lords and their huge mansions, all became the victims of this changing era widely.
As suggested by the title, it revolves around the close but non-physical relationship between a beautiful lonely Bibi(wife) of a wealthy Sahib (lord) and her innocent looking Ghulam (servant) who narrates the story from his own perspective after a few years. A poor & shy, part time servant, Bhootnath finds himself close to the gorgeous lady as she needs a person to share her inner conflicts, frustrations and the desire to love. Being ignored by her arrogant husband repeatedly, she becomes a desperate alcoholic and has a burning urge to be understood or to be cared for. And since the role had many elements close to Meena Kumari’s personal life too, it perhaps helped her in giving one of the best performances of Hindi Cinema till date, acknowledged both by the viewers and the critics together without any exception.
In fact, the mesmerizing beauty Meena Kumari playing the unsatisfied and ignored Chhoti Bahu, graced the screen like very few actresses have been able to and her presence is simply indescribable in words whispering those impressively written dialogues in a soft seductive tone. And that is the reason, SAHIB BIBI AUR GHULAM is still remembered just for the irreplaceable Meena Kumari and her divine presence alone before anything else, unarguably.
Sahib Bibi Aur GhulamIn more honest words, its only when one somehow manages to get his or her eyes off the immensely blessed actress emoting on the screen, that the other artistic achievements of the film get noticed by a charmed viewer. Like its enigmatic atmosphere of the bygone era, expressive dialogues, remarkable cinematography, extraordinary picturisation of its well-composed (written) songs and all the other great performers interacting with the Chhoti Bahu. To name the contributors, Guru Dutt, plays it real well as the shy Bhootnath (along with being a producer), Waheeda Rehman looks quite natural & great in her transforming character and Rehman performs just perfectly as the self-centered Chhote Sarkar suiting the script requirements.
Shot beautifully with a great background score the film transforms the viewer into a different time period altogether. And that is the reason it won four Filmfare Awards, including Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Cinematography along with being India's official entry to the Oscars in 1962. Interestingly as per the IMDB trivia, after the official submission to the OSCARSs, the academy also wrote a letter to the producer Guru Dutt, saying that a woman who drinks is not any permissible taboo in their culture.
Having its own set of controversies, many still believe that the film was actually directed by Guru Dutt himself and not by Abrar Alvi. However the maestro never claimed the same, not even after Abrar Alvi was awarded the Filmfare Award for the Best Director. However it’s an admissible fact that the film did have a typical Guru Dutt feel written all over it evidently. Music, featuring some haunting compositions and great lyrics, contributed a lot in its overall dejected feel and who can forget Meena Kumari singing “Na Jao Saiyan…….”, looking straight into the camera talking with her big expressive eyes so sensitively.
In short, no must-watch list of Hindi Cinema is complete without SAHIB BIBI AUR GHULAM and the film is a perfect example of those times when they used to make epics straight from the heart and not just projects eyeing at the box office window. So do watch it at the earliest if you haven’t seen it yet and try to live that nostalgic golden era of Hindi Cinema when the eyes used to do the talking, poetry conveyed the feelings and just the looks could seduce the viewer without any deliberate skin show or cheap camera movements.
A must watch and highly recommended timeless golden classic of Indian cinema from a team of maestros excelling in their individual fields, you just cannot afford to miss this.
Directed By Abrar Alvi
Starring : Meena Kumari, Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Rehman, Nasir Hussain and more.
Music by Hemant Kumar
Lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni.
Tags : Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Movies To See Before You Die Drama. Hindi Films Classics, Must Watch Movies List by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Worth Watching Films List by Bobby Sing, Not To Be Missed Indian Classics from the Golden Era, Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari, Abrar Alvi, Hemant Kumar.
07 May 2014 / bobbysing /
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