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As the country prepares to celebrate the centenary year of Indian cinema, a panel of Bengali film artistes got together to dwell on the state’s contribution to Indian cinema at Seagram’s Royal Stag presents Royal Reels Celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema: The Bengal Connect, partnered by t2 at ITC Sonar on Wednesday evening.

From Bimal Roy to Satyajit Ray, Salil Chowdhury to Shantanu Moitra, Madhumati to Kahaani, the panel — starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Dhritiman Chaterji and Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Bimal Roy’s daughter Rinki Roy Bhattacharya and Arindam Sil, representing different generations — tried to encapsulate the Bengal connect through personal notes and anecdotes.

The conversation, steered by Oindrilla Dutt, delved into the mix of Bengali directors and their dash of genius and idiosyncrasies. While Dhritiman recollected how “unobtrusive a director Ray was” and how he “often wrote a role or parts of the script after casting an actor”, Rinki Roy Bhattacharya reminisced about her father. “He was assertive about being a Bengali and to parties he never wore anything but the dhoti-kurta. He was not allowed to enter an awards function once till those at the gate were convinced that he was the one receiving the best director award! He never tried learning Hindi and yet he managed to extract some of the most marvellous performances on Indian screen,” smiled the writer and documentary filmmaker.

Soumitra chose not to harp exclusively on the Bengali’s contribution. “We all know about the cinematic evolution that Pather Panchali or Aparajito brought in. Even Bimal Roy was a departure from what had been happening before him. Hindi and Bengali cinema have always overlapped.”

Parambrata signed off on a proud note: “The pillars of Indian cinema were set up by a bastion of Bengalis and I’m happy that I’m working at a time when a resurgence of Bangaliana in films and in the overall creative scene is taking place.”

Next up was a musical session with Bollywood’s favourite melody maker Shantanu Moitra who analysed the Bimal Roy-Salil Chowdhury chemistry. “The onus is not just on the music director. A wonderful chemistry between the director and the music composer helps create wonderful music,” said Shantanu, a self-confessed admirer and follower of Chowdhury’s music, who walked the audience through film clips. From Dilip Kumar and his rhythmic movements in the song Suhana safar (Madhumati) to the use of rain in sajna (Parakh), Shantanu summed up the influence of music in creating cinematic moments. “Bimal Roy and Salil Chowdhury created music for no reason. That is what made their combination wonderful,” smiled the Parineeta and Antaheen man.


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