Friday, April 23, 2010

Cinema(s) of Bengal(s)

Until 1956, Bengali cinema meant cinema made from Kolkata. It was a big industry within India since 1930s and Bengali Muslims from East Bengal were basically the consumers of the film. However, the international recognition of Satyajit Ray and artistic success of some other filmmakers like Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen from West Bengal, India had created a profound impact on the filmmakers of Bangladesh. The Dhaka-based first full length sound feature film Mukh O Mukhosh (The Face and the Mask) was made in 1956, just after the next year of the release of Pather Pachali by Satyajit Ray. The film industry of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC), was established in 1957. One of the earlier film Ashia (1960), produced from BFDC and directed by Fateh Lohani was highly influenced by Pather Pachali. After the independence, the first internationally recognized film from Bangladesh, Suryo Dighal Bari (The Ominous House, 1979) by Masihuddin Shaker and Sheikh Niamat Ali was also influenced by Satyajit Ray’s neo-realist filmmaking style. The first film Dhire Bahe Meghna (Quiet Flows the River Meghna, 1973) by Alamgir Kabir – one important auteur of post-independence Bangladesh – was a co-production with India. He had cast several actors from India in most of his films. The three great filmmakers of West Bengal – Ray, Ghatak and Sen – all of them either born in East Bengal and later migrated to India after the partition in 1947 or their ancestors were born in East Bengal.

So the plight of partition, or the reminiscence of their homeland were the subjects of some of films by Ray, Ghatak and Sen. Ritwik Ghatak is one of them who never accepted the artificially created partition of India as well as partition of Bengal and he had always talked about the cultural unison of two Bengals.