The Telegraph
Monday , December 21 , 2009
Since 1st March, 1999
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The acting bug bites: Rituparno Ghosh

Several directors turn actors but few turn heads like Rituparno Ghosh did when he took to acting. First, because Rituparno chose to debut with a gay filmmaker’s role in Kaushik Ganguly’s Aarekti Premer Golpo. Also, because he decided to get under the skin of a jatra queen in a film within the film, going the whole hog with sari, gajra, jewellery, kajal and lipstick. Above all, Aarekti Premer Golpo gave Rituparno a vehicle for self-expression and marked Tollywood’s first serious tryst with the third sex.


Most wanted: Byomkesh Bakshi

Forget Feluda, bring on Byomkesh! The Bangali sleuth who lived in the Fifties (in Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s books, that is) suddenly became hot property for Tollywood. It began with Rituparno and Prosenjit announcing their pet project. In the queue were Anjan Dutt, Swapan Ghoshal, Saibal Mitra and Dibakar Banerjee. Ghoshal jumped the gun, but few noticed when his Magno Mainak came and went. Rituparno-Prosenjit put their Byomkesh on the backburner while Dutt picked his sleuth (Abir Chatterjee) with care and shot the film with a period piece feel. We eagerly await the results.


Family affair: Aparna & Konkona

She finds it “very difficult” to direct and act at the same time, but Aparna Sen went for it nonetheless in Iti Mrinalini, which also stars Konkona Sensharma. Mother and daughter were first seen together in Rituparno’s Titli, well, as mother and daughter. This October, they teamed up for Iti Mrinalini and played the same character — a Seventies’ actress — young and aged. On the sets, mother and daughter were pucca pros. “She’s a better director than an actor. My best performances have been with her,” observed Konkona. “I absolutely love working with Konkona. She is such a fine actress,” gushed Aparna.


Lonely Lalan: Prosenjit

Aamir Khan was happy to know the method Prosenjit was following to be Lalan Fakir in Goutam Ghose’s Moner Manush — practically locking himself up and emerging a different man. Yes, just like Aamir keeps doing. Prosenjit gave up work worth Rs 1.5 crore in order to become the protagonist, spending months in the company of bauls, leading a modest life and reflecting on Lalan’s philosophy. His screen look comprises a pock-marked face, shoulder-length hair and a coarse white robe. A far cry from the flashy hero no. 1.


Comeback couple: Jeet & Koel

Nater Guru, Bandhan, Juddha, Shubhadrishti, Manik, Hero, Ghatak.... Just when they were shaping up as the most bankable jodi after Prosenjit-Rituparna, Jeet and Koel headed for splitsville. That was in 2006. So when they decided early this year to patch up and play lovebirds again, Tolly’s producers lost no time in signing them on. Shree Venkatesh Films’s Saat Pake Bandha and Pijush Saha’s Neel Akashe Chandni happened in quick succession, and Tollywood breathed easy at the happy ending.


Starburst: Anandalok Puraskar

The Bolly shower on the night of December 3 was a real treat for star-struck Calcuttans. Rani Mukerji, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Asin and Irrfan Khan sashayed down the red carpet into a packed Science City auditorium even as Pritam and his band of boys made foot-tapping music. The audience — which comprised a number of Tolly faces — warmed to Rani’s 1,000 watt smile, Neil’s macho yet mellow appeal and Irrfan flaunting his Bengali-ness.


Crown prince: Dev

Girls love him, boys ape him. The para boudis have a thing for him too. With two superhits (Challenge and Poran Jai Joliya Re) and a hit (Dujone) this year, Dev hit a purple patch after three winters of hardship. The tall, hot dude is the new crown prince of Tollywood. His are the only posters you’ll find of a Tolly hero beside the Shahid Kapurs and Shah Rukh Khans, under the Grand hotel arcade or at Durga Puja melas. Well, Dev has already thundered: “Challenge nibi na sala!”


A-Company: Avik & Arpita

Ekti Tarar Khonje. An ace cinematographer’s directorial debut in Bengali cinema. The comeback vehicle of a promising actress who quit young following marriage and motherhood. Chokher Bali and Bunty Aur Babli DoP Avik Mukhopadhyay wanted to make a mark with the thrills and spills of the underworld. And what better twist than casting Arpita, aka Mrs Prosenjit, in the female lead of a sweet and sprightly small-town girl? The hatke director-actress pairing is sure to draw many to this 2010 release.


The homecoming: Bipasha Basu

The Ballygunge girl’s much-awaited home debut finally made it to the halls. We discovered a sweet and shy Bengali girl in the bold and brazen Bollywood bombshell as Bipasha became Radhika, the long-suffering, sari-clad wife of a poet in Rituparno’s Shob Charitra Kalponik. “I am a Bengali at heart.... My roots are in Calcutta,” declared a happy Bipasha, a decade after she left home to make it big in Mumbai.




Urbane tales: Antaheen, Madly Bangalee & Cross Connection

The first was a sleek and subtle relationship story; the second was about a boy band that was edgy and fun; the third was a mushy yet wacky rom com. Though they weren’t super duper hits, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Antaheen, Anjan Dutt’s Madly Bangalee and Sudeshna Roy-Abhijit Guha’s Cross Connection presented slices of city life that many of us could connect with. Three middle-path movies that chose both mind and matter.

tv toppers

Dada’s sixer

Who knew our favourite cricketer would bat so well on such a different pitch? Sourav Ganguly redefined TV entertainment on the Bengali beam with Zee Bangla’s Dadagiri Unlimited. The KKR skipper courted the camera with great ease. He bonded with the show’s participants, cracking jokes while keeping them on tenterhooks. He also got friend Shah Rukh Khan to do a little jig for the grand finale. Dadagiri Zindabad!

Dancing queen

Rituparna Sengupta picked a dance show and turned it into a TRP topper for Rupashi Bangla. Her Tolly-vs-Bolly contest, Dance Pe Chance, had the punch and panache, with jhatkas and matkas, bitching and fighting galore. The Tollywood heroine sure knows a thing or two about being in the producer’s hot seat.

Super jodi

Aren’t Ujaan and Hiya made for each other? So it seems, going by their success trail. Rrishii Kaushik and Aparajita Ghosh Das hit it off right from their first outing Ekdin Pratidin, but it’s Ekhane Akash Neel on STAR Jalsa that made them the small screen’s super couple this year.



P for plagiarism: Vipul Shah dragged Shree Venkatesh Films to court for lifting his Namastey London plot without permission in Poran Jai Joliya Re. The Bolly-Tolly producers resolved the matter out of court after a long-drawn war of words, but Poran Jai went on to become one of the year’s biggest box-office grossers.

End of an era: With Tapan Sinha, the Bengali industry lost one of its most significant filmmakers on January 15. The darling of the box office created his own distinctive identity in the times of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. His brand of realism shone through in Kabuliwala, Adalat O Ekti Meye, Ek Doctor Ki Maut...

Fresh lease of life: New Theatres, which was once owned by BN Sarkar and produced films like Bimal Roy’s Udayer Pathe, is back in the movie-making business after 54 years. The 80-year-old New Theatres is turning producer one more time with first-time director Somnath Gupta’s Aadur Prem, starring Soumitra Chatterjee.

Kanan Debi’s legacy: The sound of “lights, camera, action” returned to Calcutta Movieton, a studio once owned by legendary actress Kanan Debi, 25 years after its shutdown. The doors at 28A Chandi Ghosh Road, Tollygunge, reopened with Aparna Sen’s Iti Mrinalini. Present owner Jagdish Bagri plans to make it bigger and better.


small-screen finds

Manali Dey

Claim to fame: Bou Katha Kou on STAR Jalsa
Screen name: Mouri
Age: 17
Backstory: The Ballygunge girl first appeared on screen as a child actress in Akaash Bangla’s Sahityer Shera Somoy. Manali plans to write her Plus-2 examinations next year.
Voiceover: “I have always wanted to be an actress because acting comes naturally to me. People noticed me in STAR Jalsa’s Neer Bhanga Jhor, after which I auditioned for Mouri in Bou Katha Kou.”

Gourab Chatterjee

Claim to fame: Durga on STAR Jalsa
Screen name: Rupam
Age: 24
Backstory: Studies took a back seat because of work for this ex-student of St Paul’s, Darjeeling. The Bhowanipore boy, also Uttam Kumar’s grandson, plans to finish his graduation in 2010.
Voiceover: “I wanted to go to FTII (Pune) to pursue film direction but that didn’t work out. Now I want to switch to films.”

Sandipta Sen

Claim to fame: Durga on STAR Jalsa
Screen name: Durga
Age: 23
Backstory: This Tollygunge resident is juggling her TV career with an M.Sc in Applied Psychology at Calcutta University. She’s also a trained Odissi dancer.
Voiceover: “Everyone wants to be famous and that’s why right after my graduation, I auditioned for the role of Durga. I love it when kids call me Durgadidi. But someday, I would like to be known as Sandipta.”


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