64 years of Pather Panchali: What made the Ray classic ahead of its time

Pather Panchali is not only a film. It’s a direct peek into the Bengali Society of the early twentieth century. With its universal humanitarian approach, Pather Panchali paints strong emotional strokes into the hearts of its viewers. 

If anyone asks what this film is to me, I’ll reply in one line. This film makes me grieve for a sister that I never had in real life. 

It’s one of the few evergreen films out there. Even after its 64th anniversary, people watch and empathize with this masterpiece.

It’s surprising when you realize that this was the debut film of Satyajit Ray. 

Stories inside and outside

Let’s talk about the film. We all know that the whole Apu trilogy is marvellous. There are very few people who haven’t come across the Train-Running scene from this film. I haven’t come to analyze this masterpiece. Rather I am here to discuss stories. Stories from both inside and outside the film. 

And in between the stories, we will explore some reasons why one should watch it even after 64 years of its release. 

Stellar acting

64 years of Pather Panchali: What made it ahead of its time

The acting performance of Chunibala Devi (Indir Thakrun) has surpassed the level of comparison. She showed us how even a simple activity like eating can give emotional blows to the viewers. Unlike Chunibala Devi, Karuna Banerjee was completely new to cinema acting. But still, you’ll see flawless acting from her in the movie. 

In real life, Karuna Banerjee was an extremely soft person. Her daughter Runki Banerjee told in an interview that for this role Karuna became the complete opposite. She became the harsh, strong mother who quarrels. 

64 years of Pather Panchali: What made it ahead of its time

Kanu Banerjee, Subir Banerjee, and Uma Dasgupta created an acting level of their own in this film. But it was Satyajit Ray who brought them together and composed this art piece.  

Brilliant Cinematography

Subrata Mitra was the cinematographer of Pather Panchali. This was also his first-ever film making. Subrata had never operated a film camera before and before Pather Panchali, he was a photographer. Before the shooting of Pather Panchali, Subrata and Satyajit went to the scene with a borrowed up 60mm camera to learn everything. 

But on the first watch, you will see an amazing cinematographic performance. It’s so amazing that you can pull out a photography exhibition from this film. 

A storyboard

64 years of Pather Panchali: What made it ahead of its time
A storyboard page from Pather Panchali drawn by Ray

Thank heavens that Satyajit Ray adapted Pather Panchali into a film. It’s hard to tell if anyone else could do it. We all know that a film cannot completely follow a book. Just because of that Satyajit Ray also brought minor changes to the original contents. 

Satyajit Ray literally painted the storyboard of Pather Panchali. His watercolour paintings cleared out everything from the expression of characters to lighting.  

Back then there was a stigma in filmmaking. It was believed that films should have happy endings. Satyajit Ray broke this stigma and brought in a realistic approach. 

Timeless music

64 years of Pather Panchali: What made it ahead of its time

Music can convey emotions that words cannot describe. Pather Panchali was outstanding even in this way too. Ravishankar did the music for this film. 

With the use of Bengali classical instruments, Ravishankar put the perfect music piece in the perfect position. There are scenes where talking or screaming becomes abundant. In those places, music became the messenger. 

Ray’s direction

64 years of Pather Panchali: What made it ahead of its time

Satyajit Ray was a powerful director. He portrayed his beliefs and point of view through the cast members. Although many of the cast members were completely new to acting, Ray’s direction covered every bit of inexperience. 

Runki Banerjee was just a small girl when she played Durga. Ray brought his direction to the simplest form to capture the perfect pose. In fact, Ray did this with every cast member. 

However, Ray faced difficulties in direction too. He had to adapt a lot while shooting. For example, the Kans Grass field where they wanted to shoot the train scene was supposed to be the first shot scene of the film. But on the day of the shooting, they found the place completely empty. It happened to be that cattle ate all the Kans Grass. Later they returned to that place after around 2 years. 

64 years of Pather Panchali: What made it ahead of its time

Other than the improvising, the implementation of film-philosophy is also admirable.

Satyajit Ray took the Italian Neo-realism approach while making this film.

His showcasing of poverty, desperation, etc. in everyday life bolsters this claim. 

We can also see the influence of Rasa theory in this film. This concept relies heavily on the emotional side. It centres on two aspects. The first one is the feelings experienced by the characters. And the second one is conveying those feelings to the audience in an artistic way. 

Satyajit Ray gathered up the perfect team for that.  With the story of Bibhutibhushan, with the acting of the cast members, with the cinematography of Subrata Mitra and with the music of Ravishankar he conveyed every bit of emotion to us. 

A legacy that lives on

64 years of Pather Panchali: What made it ahead of its time

Satyajit Ray had to stop shooting this film in midway due to fund shortage. He went to the government officials for the funding, but they didn’t like his realistic approach. 

Because he didn’t give up, we are still talking about his first film after 64 years of its release. Here’s an interesting fact – the Apu Trilogy created an ineradicable impact on teenage Martin Scorsese. 

If you haven’t watched this masterpiece already then go and watch it. It’s been 64 years and you are missing out on a gem of Bengali classic. Happy watching!

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The story of Rafsan Sabab and WHAT A SHOW!

Rafsan Sabab, a young boy enrolled in cadet college since grade seven harboured big dreams. Dreams that began with his great affinity towards the power of words. While growing up, he had always been attracted to the command of speech and the influence it brought on people’s lives. Since then, he was an active member of the national debating circuit through the early years of his school and college.

A dream is but not a dream

However, as soon as he joined university, he became more familiar with the concept of presenting himself in a stage with a keen audience. The spark within him was ignited and he soon became a force to be reckoned with. Fueled further by his inspiration from legendary hosts such as – Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Kimmel. His mind clicked that, in order to pave a profession out of his passion, anchoring was possibly the best way to move forward. And indeed it was.

The prologue

Rafsan Sabab What a show

In his sophomore year in university. He approached Ayman Sadiq, founder of Robi 10 minutes school to pitch the idea of a show combined with both education and entertainment – Edutainment. This was launched, known as the 10 minute school show and was the inception of his career as an anchor.

Soon enough, afterwards a production company Dhaka Live for a talk show approached him. Rafsan did not believe in genericity. He wanted something more creative.

With this thought in mind, he embarked upon the journey of a YouTube show,“Hashtag with Rafsan Sabab” which later continued for 4 episodes.

This show focused on a celebrity’s digital profiles only. Creatively attempted to only give limelight to the guest’s social media and digital persona.

Let the show begin!

Rafsan Sabab had bigger dreams about his own show. This included a live audience who will be able to share their immediate response from the performance in the stage.

Rafsan Sabab What a show

“I wanted to be able to hear the laughter of the crowd if the punch line really worked!

Added Rafsan.

His friends and family believed in his thoughts. He wanted to be different by breaking the stereotypical characterization of Bangladeshi talk shows.

“As a host, I thought of becoming better researched, effective and at the same time more entertaining towards my guests and my audience. Therefore, I put together a dedicating team handpicking each one personally. Approaching them one at a time.”

He further added.  

It began at first with a production team, ‘Sketch board Interactive owned by Ziaus Shams and Sakib Mansur Zihan who are co-founders of What a Show. The show started gathering a stellar crew by bringing onboard Lamia Tasnim, a professional model and co-founder of What a Show.

Rafsan Sabab What a show

A dream was a dream no longer with his show becoming a reality.

It began with the idea of redefining the talk show trend in Bangladesh.

By making it more interactive, fun and at the same time create an alternative marketing platform for everyone. The vision of one day hosting the Oscars really did not seem that farfetched after all.

“From where I am right now, it is not just about the final destination but rather about the gradual steps I take on the way. After graduating from IBA, University of Dhaka, I chose not to enter the corporate world. Undertaking anchoring as a second profession would not have allowed me the time or energy to launch ‘What a Show’ at this scale. Moreover, that decision has been truly worth it.”

Expressed Rafsan gladly.

WHAT A SHOW, indeed

Rafsan Sabab believes that every individual is both experienced and talented in his or her own fields.

Rafsan Sabab What a show

“When inviting guests, at first my team and I, we were looking to invite people who understood the concept of our show. Aiming for Celebrities who were sporty and could build a rapport on stage almost instantaneously.”

Said Rafsan.

Episode one: Nabila and Pritom

On the first episode, two guests were invited. Pritom Hasan, composer, singer, music video actor renowned for his famous songs, “Local Bus” and “Beainshab”. Followed by an amazing actor and anchor, Masuma Nabila.

“The first episode was an instant hit with absolutely no skepticism from our guests having being invited in the first episode of a YouTube Show. The energy was great and we really did hit it off in front of an enthusiastic live audience.”

Exclaimed Rafsan!

‘What a show’ is indeed different with conversations that were engaging and flowed freely both ways. There were the two interactive games – ‘Kache ashar oshomapto golpo’ and ‘Cholen cinema banai’ each with its own style of humor. Unlike most shows in the country, the set is casual at the same time to create a cozy vibe by the looks and feel of it. The conversational style is unique with positive humor ensures the contents of the guests are being promoted through our show.

Episode two: Tahsan, Taskeen and Ridy

Rafsan Sabab What a show

For the second episode, What a Show was grander and more glamorous. This episode consisted of a very famous international dancer Ridy Sheikh who is originally a Bangladeshi but lived in Russia for the most part of her lives. Followed by The famous singer and actor Tahsan Khan who was the second guest appearance of the show.

Tahsan, along with the third guest appearance, Taskeen Rahman, actor promoted their joint movie– Jodi Ekdin. The episode ended with an amazing individual live performance from both Tahsan Khan and Taskeen Rahman as a cherry on top for the audience and viewers.

Epilogue

What a Show will be launching episodes fortnightly, each intending to be better than the one before.

Rafsan says, “We see a lot of different content in social media every day. We are very quick to jump and criticize if it does not satisfy us. We see many different kinds of trends and if the content is good, we appreciate it but we almost never ensure that it is being reached in our own circle. My request to you is that if you do like my work; please spread it within your own circle so that together we can create a more impactful journey in people!”

Subscribe to their YouTube channel to watch their upcoming episode to be aired soon and stay up to date with their Facebook page.

Touquir Ahmed is creating a Bangladeshi Feluda and here’s your first look!

For any book-lover Bengali, from this side of the border or the other, the name Satyajit Ray is one that’s very close to the heart. His short stories, novels, horrors, thrillers- they’ve all been a huge part of all our childhood. And the largest of them all is the hero we all looked up to growing up, Pradosh Chandra Mitra, or who we know him more as, Feluda.

Soumitra Chatterjee was the very first portrayal of Feluda on the silver screens

Read more: Is Feluda coming to Hollywood?

A Bangladeshi Feluda?

Sharp wit, an even sharper tongue, piercing eyes, tall, mysterious- this enigmatic character has been attempted to be portrayed by generations after generations. The list of visionaries who had their own vision for Feluda includes Satyajit Ray himself, his son Sandeep Ray and also many other writers and directors.  The latest and most intriguing addition to this list is our very own Tauquir Ahmed, who’s shooting a web series on Feluda from 21st April, in various locations of Dhaka and Chittagong.

Sabyasachi has played the character for the longest period of time

Even after decades of Feluda’s arrival, there have never been any attempts at large to create and show his persona in our cultural sphere. All the dramas, plays that have been made, have been at a small scale, never adding much justice to this stellar character of Bengali literature.

The latest series about Feluda saw an Indian Feluda solving cases in Bangladesh’s context. It was still not our own Feluda.

The closest we came to presenting this iconic series was the Feluda series in bioscope- but even in that series, the titular characters of Feluda, Topshe and Laalmohan Babu were played by prominent actors from West Bengal, with Bangladesh providing with the background and Bangladeshi actors portraying only minor parts.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to rectify the situation a bit with a Bangladeshi actor playing the main part and the web series being produced solely in Bangladesh.

Stellar cast and crew

Considering the situation at hand, Tauquir Ahmed has enough awards and recognition under his belt to reassure the avid fans on the project’s success. His different outlook on Bangla cinema and TV has helped the industry gain a lot of the international acclamation it has today.

The entire cast has not been announced yet, only who’s going to portray Feluda and its Ahmed Rubel. We do see Abul Kalam Azad and Abul Hayat in some latest stills but details have not been divulged yet.

Ahmed Rubel, our own Feluda at last?

Given the performer and the character, so far it seems to be the most understandable match. For those of you who can’t place Ahmed Rubel, he is mainly a theatre and television actor, who also has proved his acting chops in films like “Bachelor: the circle”, “Guerilla”, “Chandrokoktha”, “The last Thakur” etc which are far from mainstream. Now the production house claims to have some sort of surprise in store for the two sidekicks- Topshe and Laalmohon Babu, and we hope its more Bangladeshi actor, with the originality of the character preserved.

In a country full of intense Bengali readers, it’s been a shame to not have our own version of Feluda, Topshe, Laalmohon and Maganlal Meghraj. About time we walk in the right direction.

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed

Komola Rocket, the Bangladeshi drama film entirely shot in a vintage steamer, has landed on Netflix earlier this year. As a ferry vessel enthusiast, the film was a long overdue one for me. Here’s my two cents about this 112 minute feature film that have made its way to international film festivals and earned accolades as well.

The brilliant minds behind

Based on short stories (‘Moulik’ and ‘Cyprus’) by esteemed writer Shahaduzzaman, Komola Rocket is the debut directorial venture of Noor Imran Mithu. Mithu previously worked with Mostofa Sarwar Farooki as an assistant director and was the lead actor in ‘Pipra Bidya’. Mithun merged two stories of his favourite writer and turned it into a script for Komola rocket. As interesting as it may sound, the film was shot in a century-old steamer and locations range from Sadarghat to the river beds of Khulna.

The plot

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 3

Rocket, a very old steamer where queen Elizabeth once onboarded (not kidding), starts its journey from Sadarghat towards Khulna. With a crazy mix of passengers, rocket moves toward Meghna river. We see a packed vessel where every passenger has a story worth listening.

From circus freaks to corrupt business magnate, the stark contrast in social class is the heart of Komola rocket.

Atik, an idiosyncratic man is going to Khulna on a hideout to spare himself from an arson conspiracy. He meets a dysfunctional family he would rather not involve with. The family consists a couple with a child and a young woman. Atik, ever so edgy, also stumbles upon a weirdo called Mofizul. Camouflaging as a poet and kabiraj, Mofizul runs a prostitution ring in the steamer. Atik is bewildered when Mofizul mistakes him for a client, but he gets used to his fawning.

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 7

We see a narcissist young girl who secretly mates with her boyfriend, not knowing Atik is right beside her room. Atik seems uninterested. His only concern is to withdraw insurance money for fire attack at his factory. It is clearly implied that Atik is the mastermind behind this sabotage. Fatefully enough, a distraught man named Monsur also onboarded rocket with a corpse. His wife was burnt alive at a factory fire tragedy and he’s going to bury her at their native village. Monsur meets Atik, not knowing he’s the owner of the very factory where his wife died.

The subtle messages

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 4

There are other supporting characters who appear once in a while, aptly reflecting our social conscience.

Unemployment, cheating husband, rotting dead bodies- Komola rocket explores it all.

In the final act of the film, the steamer gets stuck in a ridge and it stands still in the middle of the river. Food supplies in the rocket shrinks soon. people from VIP cabin to freeloaders- all stand in line with a hungry stomach to eat overpriced dinner. The movie ends on a depressing note. We don’t see where the characters end up; we only see their misery, lust and greed.

What works and what doesn’t

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 2

Komola rocket sees Tauqir Ahmed and Mosharraf Karim sharing the silver screen for the second time. Atik and Mofizul are played by Tauqir and Mosharraf respectively. Samia Syed, a Lux-Channel I superstar contestant appears as the narcissistic girl. Other acting credits include Joyraaj, Sheoti, Dominic Gomez etc. One thing I have to highlight about this film is the pristine cinematography. There are several drone shots of the rocket which I significantly liked. Noor Imran Mithu gets a pass for his first direction. If I have to nitpick anything about Komola rocket, then it should be the dialogue. I think the dialogues could have been a bit relevant and matured with the context. Overall, Komola rocket should be on your watchlist as one of the few decent Bengali language movies out there.

Check out other Bangladeshi films streaming on Netflix. ‘Television’ and ‘Pipra bidya’ are some of the popular titles you will currently find on this website.