Though 2018 was not a great year for Bengali cinema, there were still enough brave attempts and a few exceptional stories.
Rewind 2018: Which was the Best Film in Bengali this year?
Kolkata - 01 Jan 2019 3:51 IST
The year 2018 has been an average one for Bengali cinema. While a newcomer like Soukarya Ghosal earned critical appreciation and box-office success with his low-budget independent film Rainbow Jelly, established directors such as Srijit Mukherji and Kaushik Ganguly only found disappointment with their much hyped Ek Je Chhilo Raja and Kishore Kumar Junior.
Then there was the re-emergence of thrillers like Jojo and Bidaay Byomkesh and a few paranormal films like Kuasha Jokhon and Flat No 609 that did not impress either the masses or the critics.
But it was not a totally dismal year either and we have picked some of the brave attempts and a few exceptional stories from the lot. Here, then, is Cinestaan's list of the best Bengali films of 2018, and why they are worth watching. Tell us what you think of our selection.
10. Generation Aami
A simple yet entertaining film, Generation Aami had an important message for the current generation as well as their parents. Director Mainak Bhaumik took up some of the familiar characters around us to depict in a realistic manner the most extreme conditions of parenting. He juxtaposed the journey of two protagonists — one overlooked by her parents, the other not even aware of the little joys of life because of the suffocating conduct of his parents. The film was predictable, but the screenplay was engaging, leaving enough space for lead artistes Rwitobroto Mukherjee and Sauraseni Mitra to excel.
Satrajit Sen’s Michael did not earn well at the box office or generate great reviews from most critics; however, the film was an honest satire on dreams, cinema and human relationships with winning performances by all the artistes, including Mir Afsar Ali, Swastika Mukherjee and Tonusree Chakraborty while Soumitra Chatterjee surprised everyone with his performance in a never-before-seen avatar. The movie pointed out the power play of politics in the film industry without demeaning the power of the audience in the journey of a struggling artiste, with humour and thorough entertainment.
8. Byomkesh Gowtro
A well-made film on Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s story Rakter Daag, Byomkesh Gowtro could boast of a few good performances and engaging cinematic experience. Arindam Sil’s authentic recreation of the post-Independence era in Mussoorie lent itself to the suspense of the detective film. Arjun Chakraborty portrayed antagonist Satyakam with finesse and contributes in a big way to the drama. Though protagonist Byomkesh did not leave much of an imprint on the mind, the complexities associated with Satyakam offered an intense experience on the whole.
Srijit Mukherji’s melodramatic yet heart-wrenching adaptation of the true story of Evan Leversage, the Canadian boy who moved Christmas, was worth watching for its message. The director not only successfully recreated a foreign concept in his own milieu, but also retained the grandeur of the gesture of humanity that is at the core of the story. Anjan Dutt’s performance in the subtext of the main story stood out. As a failed director, his character’s passionate drive to tell a story that could fulfil the last wish of a terminally ill girl magnified the impact of the message manifold.
6. Rong Beronger Korhi
Ranjan Ghosh created a collage of stories revolving around money in the lives of marginalized people from different social backgrounds. Each story came with fascinating twists and characters full of grey shades. Money becomes synonymous with the most fundamental issues of life and death. Brief and intense plot progression with real dramatic performances by the actors, especially Ritwick Chakraborty and Rituparna Sengupta, made watching the film a worthwhile experience. The film, apart from the transitional junctures between the stories, was an ensemble of poetic experiences, depicted by cinematographer Shirsha Ray and editor Rabi Ranjan Maitra.
5. Happy Pill
Mainak Bhaumik’s film on the search for the true source of happiness definitely left a smile on the viewer's face with its simple, predictable yet entertaining storyline. The film's success was heavily dependent on lead actor Ritwick Chakraborty’s effortless performance. The film conveyed that happiness does not depend on materialistic possessions or on living up to society’s expectations. Rather, it is hidden in the corners of our hearts. We only need to make an effort to look into it. Bhowmick also deserved credit for criticizing various social stigmas through the film that had some memorable urban compositions by Savvy Gupta.
Indrasis Acharya’s poetic film Pupa dealt evocatively with the crisis of the modern Bengali middle-class bhadralok family with stock characters. While cinematically brilliant, the film demanded a lot of patience from the audience, allowing its ideas to sink in gradually. While the characters oscillated between keeping their ideals and fulfilling their duties, the director conveyed much more beyond their individual concerns. The patience of the audience was duly rewarded with an unexpected twist at the end.
3. Ahare Mon
Pratim D Gupta’s Ahare Mon was a feel-good film that threw light on the little joys of life. Featuring seven characters from different age groups and social backgrounds, the film’s success lay in delineating the journeys of its characters individually within an ensemble experience. Through mature storytelling, Gupta expressed how simple promises, commitments of friendship, or even the willingness to put a smile on somebody’s face could bring warmth in life. Some memorable performances along with an unexpected twist that connects all characters in the end made the film worth watching.
A well-made romantic thriller, Drishtikone had not a dull moment and contained all elements necessary to keep the audience glued to its seats. Kaushik Ganguly wove an extramarital affair into an unusual love story, juxtaposing it with a crime plot. The crime segment might have appeared to be a bit simple, but the complex equations among the characters and the intensity in the climax retained the temperament of the film. Of all the performances by the film's stars, Ganguly’s own dramatic act turned out to be the most endearing.
1. Rainbow Jelly
Soukarya Ghosal told an underdog’s story in a modern-day fairy-tale context, with food fantasy playing an important role. With a simple storyline invoking innocence, nostalgia and raw emotions, Rainbow Jelly featured Mahabrata Basu, a special child in real life, as lead character Ghoton. Ghosal wove magic with seamless cinematography and narrative as Ghoton’s colourful world unfolds against his uncle Gondaria’s tyranny and dishes of rainbow colours, with the aid of Pori Pishi, make way for his quest to inherit the jakher dhan (hidden treasure) left by his father. The film conveyed some pure expressions that we miss out in daily life.