Matinee idol Uttam Kumar’s film Rajkanya turns 50 on Thursday. 1965 was a significant year for not only Bengali cinema but also world cinema. It was in 1965 when a host of classics were produced from the stable of three Bengal stalwarts, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.
Ray’s films Mahapurush (The Holy Man) and Kapurush (The Coward) both released in 1965. The same year also saw the release of Ghatak’s masterpiece Subarnarekha (The Golden Line) and Sen’s Akash Kusum. HT takes a look at the Bengali classics, which turn 50 this year.
Rajkanya: Directed by Sunil Bandyopadhyay, this romantic drama had Uttam Kumar in the lead. Not many know that the film’s story, dialogues and screenplay were written by the legendary Ritwik Ghatak. The film also starred Chandrabati Debi, Gitali Ray, Ajit Chattopadhyay, Satya Bandyopadhyay and all-time favourite actor-comedian Bhanu Bandyopadhyay. The song, Ei Sei Purnima Raat, was a chartbuster.
Akash Kusum: Mrinal Sen, one of the torchbearers of parallel cinema in India, directed Akash Kusum with Soumitra Chatterjee, Subhendu Chatterjee and Aparna Sen. The film revolves around a middle-class man and his tryst with luck makes him falter with every business his starts. Soumitra played the lead. Subhendu, who went onto become a pioneering force in Bengali cinema, made his debut with this film. The film also won the National award for best Bengali film.
A still from Akash Kusum.
Kapurush: Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), a Kolkata-based scriptwriter’s car suddenly breaks down and Haradhan Banerjee (Bimal Gupta) asks him to stay at his home overnight. There, he is introduced to his wife Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee) with whom he was once in a relationship. Satyajit Ray’s Kapurush was based on Premendra Mitra’s story, Janaiko Kapuruser Kahini.
A still from Kapurush.
Mahapurush: Another Ray masterpiece, Mahapurush was based on Parashuram’s short story Birinchibaba. The film narrates the tale of a godman, Birinchi Baba, who fools millions of his followers with absurd stories like how he taught E=mc2 to Albert Einstein and how he orders the sun to rise every morning. The character was immortalised by Charuprakash Ghosh. Rabi Ghosh as his assistant came up with a stellar performance.
A still from Mahapurush.
Subarnarekha: Ritwik Ghatak’s Subarnarekha depicted the after effects of Partition. The film had Abhi Bhattacharya, Madhabi Mukherjee, Satindra Bhattacharya and Bijon Bhattacharya in pivotal roles. The film’s music was composed by Ustad Bahadur Khan, who later also composed for Ghatak’s Jukti Takko Aar Gappo and Titash Ekti Nadir Naam.
A still from Subarnarekha.