In Shukno Lanka, Gaurav Pandey’s acclaimed 2010 film that deals with the struggles of an ageing, yet junior, artiste, veteran Bengali actress Debashree Roy plays a filmmaker’s wife who is envious of his young mistress, tries to win him back, and has a scene with co-actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty that is charged with sexual tension. She acts with such eclat that audiences watching the film with their families had no reason to squirm even a whit.
Aparajita Tumi The film deals with infidelity and contemporary sexual mores
Fade to 1981. “No, no, I will not do these scenes. Please don’t make me do them, Rinadi,” Debashree Roy remembers pleading with Aparna Sen when she was to shoot her first love-making scene in a bedroom at the age of 16 for Sen’s directorial debut, the award-winning 36 Chowringhee Lane. “I was extremely nervous before the shoot,” recalls Roy. The scenes between her and co-actor Dhritiman Chatterjee—whom Roy recalls meeting for the first time and thinking, “Oh my God, I have to get intimate with this complete stranger?”—were to become iconic because it was probably the first time in Bengali cinema that love-making between a man and woman was depicted, as Roy describes, “realistically, as it happens in real life”. The scene had Roy’s Nandita and Chatterjee’s Samaresh make love passionately, with the camera exploring as much the sensuality of their expressions as capturing the physicality of their movements. “I was so inhibited partly because at that time such scenes were not common at all in Bengali cinema,” says Roy.
Shooting a scene for Charulata 2011, which deals with the theme of a woman’s loneliness, both psychological and physical, actress Rituparna Sengupta didn’t bat an eyelid when she was asked by director Agnidev Chatterjee to get up close and personal with co-actor Dibyendu Mukherjee. Their scenes together involved pretty much the whole range of actions, right from foreplay—caressing and kissing—leading to fervent love-making, and all shot aesthetically. “Shooting such scenes do demand a great deal of enactment in which physical proximity is required. We are not only expected not to shy away from them, but we willingly don’t, because we actors know it is usually necessary for the denouement of the story,” says Rituparna matter-of-factly. So what has made this change to come about in the past few years in a cinematic tradition that otherwise had been progressive, yet prudish (many didn’t like the kissing scene in Ray’s Ghare Baire) when it came to depicting physical intimacy? “Bengali cinema has come of age,” replies Rituparna.
Shukno Lanka A story of filmdom, has a sexually charged scene
Like Charulata 2011, which revolves around a woman’s quest for her own identity, linked intrinsically and unabashedly to her sexuality, many films released in the last two or three years deal with adult themes. In Bedroom, Mainak Bhoumik deals with complicated relationships; the filmmaker delineates the sexual behaviour of a set of urban individuals in Calcutta. In the movies of Rituparno Ghosh—from Dohon to Doshor—the aberrations of sexuality are integral themes, as are ‘alternate sexual identities’ the themes of his more recent films like Chitrangada. In the latter, actors Jisshu Sengupta and Rituparno himself—playing gay lovers—have intimate love-making scenes.
Antarmahal Explores sexual aggression, its links with masculinity
Gaurav Pandey’s next film Hanuman.com is an exploration of virtual love. He says such themes are now an inseparable part of Bengali films. “You have to remember that love and sex are an integral part of life and to pretend that it does not exist is to do grave injustice to your own story and script, because then you are leaving that aspect of the story and script incomplete. It has to be shown as it is. Eroticism is more abstract and exists in the realm of desire. Sexuality is more manifest and physical.”
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So, how was it this time for Debashree Roy to get ‘intimate’ before the camera with co-actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty, all those years after 36 Chowringhee Lane? Did she feel any trepidation like she did before those scenes for Rinadi’s film? “No, Bengali cinema has come of age. And so have I,” she laughs.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The plain fact is, a person is very ordinary, to himself, when he feels, or thinks honestly. People respect this in real life. It appears, in movies, this does not seem, regrettably, honest, to the viewer. The movie in Bengali that I remember, for appreciated honesty, was on Swami Vivekananda, where Mr. Mithun Chakravarty portrayed Sri. Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekananda was also portrayed in a great manner, but I don't know the gentleman's name. I have seen great movies, like Ghare Baire, where we admire the portrayals greatly, but one doesn't need to admire any singular identity, of the portrayal.
This article makes the same old mistake of confusing the privileged Bhadralok with the other 99%.
Also remember, this is 1 of the most leftist parts of India.This ensures that top 1%, stays there permanently.
It is amusing how Bengalis like to think Satyajit Ray, or Ray wannabes & other semi-intellectual riff raff would represent West Bengali Cinema!
When I put my TV on and switch to the Bengalo movie and music channels, all I see, are neanderthal males dancing in the rain with large eyed,petite(Midget!) women.
The king of this kind of cinema is Mithun.But atleast he has some class.Most of these neanderthals don't!!
The article omits explicit unsimulated sex in recent tollywood parallel cinema - good as well as pseudo [those labels are my subjective ones, of course!]. Unlike hollywood no body doubles were used in these three films:
1. gandu [nihilistic pseudointellectual film ] - Rii gives fellatio to QaushiQ
2. chatrak [very good film, poetry on screen depicting the various damages that dispossession brings - even to the middle class] - anubrata, in a casual encounter, gives very explicit cunnilingus to Paoli Dam on Paoli's demand - a rather long (one continous 3 min 30 sec sequence!) but not monotonous and somehow antipornigraphic and liberating one.
3. cosmic sex: lot of explicit unsimulated sex - also has Rii... okay film.
- Manoj Pandey
Great stuff. Bengal is progressing with great speed. Calcutta will soon resemble New York.
Forget that backward looking third rate culture of Ravindranath Thakur and Satyajit Ray. It is time to move on.
'Forget that backward looking third rate culture of Ravindranath Thakur and Satyajit Ray. It is time to move on.'
Are you serious or just being sarcastic?
Hope it is the later.
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