Adventure in Africa finds celluloid format

Chander Pahar an extraordinary adventure novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, has finally been converted into a film. The writer had never been to African but his research work had made the novel a classic. The whole journey of Bengali film industry reflects its rise through the films of today. The evolution is beautiful to watch out for. The sole reason that the film has been based on the famous novel itself is enough to draw huge crowds of all age to the theatre halls. The story is set in the 1900s and revolves around a young man Shankar (played by Dev) from a village in Bengal and his dream of travelling the world. He finds a job in Uganda railways as a station master in a desolate station in Africa, and eventually steps out for an adventure with another man. In his solitude Shankar used to read books and roam around in the nearby area with a gun as an only protection from man-eater lions and other dangerous animals. He made friends with the Massai and Zolo tribes,to help his unprotected livelihood. One day during his travelling around he found a man asleep and sick on a tree to be attacked by cheetahs and hyenas any moment, he saved him and brought him into his own cottage and took good care of him. From the man, Diego Alvarez, who was a Portuguese explorer, Shankar learnt a lot about his past and a bone chilling story of an adventure to the “mountain of the moon” in search of diamonds. Hearing this story Shankar get ready to leave his boring job of a station master who has to only attend to one train a day, and plans to set out for the diamond mine. On their way to the diamond mine they discover a volcano which was never known to exist until then. Shankar’s experience of the journey to the mine and form it back home is worth watching out for. Chander_Pahar_Official_Poster
Dev’s acting though in the beginning seemed not up to the mark, was good enough with the development of the film. The controversy of whether Dev can fit into this role can be side tracked once you have watched the film. South African actor Gerard Rudolph plays Diego and also picks up the trouble of speaking little bit of Bengali with Shankar. The animation wasn’t as good as the Hollywood films but could pass as quite well in the Tollywood. The bunyip looked horribly ugly, just the way a monster is supposed to look.
The cinematography of Chander Pahar by Soumik Haldar is absolutely wonderful; if not anything else do go for the film just to watch the camera work. The locations for the shooting were equally awesome; the waterfalls the dangerous lion, the giraffes, the Black Mamba, the tiny insects and the hyenas were captured perfectly. Some of my favourite shots were the scene when the huge lion was standing just above the Indian man, Shankar had made friends with; when Shankar was crossing over to another side of the hill walking over a tree truck bridge to save Diego; and the shot of the rocks dropping down to the water body when Shankar and Diego were climbing the rocky walls of the waterfalls; and also towards the end of the film when Shankar is starving and screams out loud for help.
The direction by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee was quite good and also explains the development and rise in the maturity level of Dev’s acting skills. Though many would claim that the film was not as good as the description of the story, but the mental image formation of one person always differs from the other, so we can never say whose idea is more picturesque, it just depends on the beholder’s perception. The music was very apt; I loved it throughout the film. There were no songs until the end, but the sole music was very gripping. The use of African music was a clever choice; credit goes to the music directors Indradeep Dasgupta and Debojyoti Mishra. The editing by Raviranjan Maitra was also good except for a few times when it seemed that a scene started off without waiting for the previous one to end, that was disturbing for the viewers.

Rating:-
Story- 10/10 Direction- 9/10 Acting- 7.5/10 Music- 9/10 Cinematography- 9.5/10 Editing-8.10

Christmas

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The first twenty years of my life I had spent the Christmas day eating cakes, chocolates, ice-creams, decorating Christmas trees and the house and lately baking cakes. But this year it was different altogether 
In the morning I went to the Assembly of God church, along with a dedicated friend, Indy and had a lovely time singing along with the choir the melodious carols and clicking photographs. Then I had to go over to a place for an interview with a friend Leima! How does it feel to work on a holiday? That too, to work for something you are hardly interested in… So Leima and I ditched it and went on a tour to the famous Park Street. The street probably best for the city gourmands, because you have every kind of edible shops in there, well not “shops to be eaten” but the ones that sell food and beverages. From coffee shops to bars, to pizzas to French bakeries to cakes, to rolls and many more. DSC_2623
We were hungry, both for food and celebration. So we started off with a heavy and tasty Chicken roll from the Hot Kati Rolls. We wandered about the street giggling at every stupid joke, and the horribly funny looking goggles selling like hot cakes in the mood of festivity. Some were large stars of various coloured rims-purple, yellow, and several other neon colours, some people even wore beer bottle shaped goggles, Mickey Mouse shaped goggles and many more! I wondered what the buyers will do with those silly things later on. But that doesn’t really matter as long as you let loose the crazy self in you and enjoy every moment of the day.DSC_2643
It was lovely to watch everybody smiling and enjoying spinning their heads to show off the little white pompom ball on their santa hats. The roads were so well lit and the crowd kept on getting thicker, but never will you find any unwanted disturbance in this crowd. Because everyone here has come to enjoy and spend a memorable Christmas, so generally no one bothers strangers. DSC_2580
I tried 3 flavours of ice cream, at a stall from the “Café Chocolade” an innovative snack dealer, the Natural’s ice cream almonds, nolen gur flavor and the pan flavor. All the flavours were amazingly tasty. Then we got back to roaming aimlessly and waiting impatiently for it to get dark so that the lights and the decorations would be more prominent. Then as it got darker we went to the Alan Park and attended the programmes there and accidentally met two friends after several months. It feels special if anything happens unplanned or comes in as a surprise. As evening approached the number of red Santa Caps increased and it became difficult to walk in the road, transportation was shut down in Park Street and the two sides of the road contained streams of people and the Santa caps and the crazy goggles! We were probably walking at the speed of a few meters per hour! On our way we got lured into MacDonald’s and I grabbed another ice cream while Leima opted for a coke. The people behind the desk really tested our patience, they couldn’t understand a thing we said, all they did was to stare and mishear. We then tried our best to speak out in every language we knew and place the order. Then coming outside with our share (since the place was full) we saw a little girl staring intently at my large ice cream and walking down the stairs, who eventually fell hanging by her shoulder and started pleading her dad for an ice cream. Leima and I circled the street several times and clicked pictures of the beautifully decorated street. All went well until…. It was time to head home.DSC_2598
Leaving Park Street was a disaster! The crowd near the metro station was frightening. I tried every possible way to avoid my feet from stampede but did feel a few heavy steps crush them! I saw a very handsome guy, right in front of me with a backpack, but it was no time to look out for boys, I soon felt it with a sudden push from the left hammering me to the wall. But the handsome guy’s backpack saved me, actually I grabbed onto it quickly or else I would get pasted on the wall like they show in the Tom& Jerry cartoons. Now was the difficult task of proceeding toward the platform, everyone was trying to get in and out desperately and this desperateness resulted in absolute tantrum. The policemen were terrified, they could not manage so many people, even they got pulled into the crowd and struggled to blow their whistles to announce their authority. This metro station has two platforms on either side of the rail tracks, and only two exits on one side, the people coming from the other side have to come through the tunnel and exit the station from the only side with exits to the road. Leima needed not to cross over the tunnel so she made her way through the crowd and waited for her metro, while I had to cross over to the other side and go home. And I made the mistake of using the tunnel! Believe it or not, it took me 20 minutes to reach the top of the other platform! Though it wasn’t very hot yesterday, it was at least cool, in non crowded roads people needed to wear woolens. I had my jacket in the bag even though mom had advised it would be cold and so I needed to wear it, but at that point of time how I cherished the decision I made. I could see people getting out of the tunnel all sweating and sighing. I took a deep breath and stepped in and within a few moments I wanted to run out from there. It felt as if the temperature in the tunnel was above 35 degree Celsius! I could see babies screaming, highly made-up girls panicking with their make-up melting down, people wearing woolens struggling, and men trying their best not to get blamed for any misbehaviour. It felt like one of Hitler’s concentration rooms he used to torture and kill the Jews. We couldn’t breathe, everyone was shouting to get the crowd moving, but here was the tragedy, inside that tunnel one stream of men and women were going to the other side while another stream of people were coming from the other side! I was feeling so hot and sick without wearing any woolens that I thought how much trouble was it for the people who were heavily decked in woolens?? This thought kept me alive in the tunnel for the 20 minutes. Once we got to come out over to the destined platform it felt like I have just finished a battle and was returning drenched from a battle field. The sudden loss of pressure though soothed me it also felt a bit awkward as I stumbled a bit to every direction having lost control of my corporal movements. The journey homeward from now on was quiet normal, but the struggle prior to this had made me week. I knew on returning home after sundown it is difficult to get auto-rickshaws from the station to my locality, because of the rush hour you either have to stand on an anaconda like queue or hang all the way from a bus door. I had the energy for none, so I decided walking down the 3km distance. Luckily I got an empty auto-rickshaw and headed home, and even fell asleep for a minute in there, but a pleasant memory woke me up, guess what? I got a free journey back home. Courtesy? Kolkata Metro Railways, I guess it was a compensation for suffering inside the tunnel! The extensive flow of humans in and out of the Park Street Metro Station had forced the metro officials at Park Street to enable the emergency service and allow the visitors to travel free of cost. The immense pressure in the street and the tunnel resulted in several black photographs in my camera; the pressure had turned on the camera and had clicked many photos with the lens cap on!
Well then coming back home was a sign of peace. I just sank down in the sofa and thought of the sweet and sour experiences of the day.
So I guess even without the cake Christmas was well spent, and it proved that Christmas is not only about cakes and Christmas trees but much more.

Having a bad day? Watch out for kids

Journeys in local trains are horrible, no wonder, but if you have some time to spare to look away from the ugly floors, ignore the unwanted gazes, and struggle to make space for balanced stand, you might get to view some outstanding scenes!
Today, unwillingly again like every time I had to take a local train to visit the doctor, and witnessed some memorable sights. Since the train was very crowded we had to fight and get on board. Then getting a place to stand I somehow clung to the hanging holders for support, beside me stood a lady with her husband. She was a bit shorter than me, and could not find any proper grip, so what shall be the best way to get support?? She simply clipped her fingers to her husband’s trousers belt hooks, and pulled the trousers along with him every time the train halted with a jerk!! The sight was quite funny, but something else worsened my mood. A man old enough to be the father of 5 kids of my age was staring at me like a baboon. I was so reminded of a particular social ad in which the girls who get subjected to such unwanted sleazy gaze make the beholder behold their own disgusting face tactfully by mirrors or sunglasses. The first thought I had was to hit him right on his fat nose, but then I decided to apply my cold stare, it worked partly, because these guys are trained and experienced in sleaziness. So at last I gave up all my “goodness” gestured a “f**k off” at him. I so wished to go back and blind him!!
Well, things went well the rest of the day, and while returning we got a nearly empty train compartment there were only about seven women scattered around. The train dragged on to the next station, and a lady got up with her little son. The boy had a small packet of fried peas in one hand and the other was tightly grabbed by his mother. They walked about here and there for a while uncertain where to sit, because all the seats except 3 where empty! They finally occupied two seats facing each other. The boy thought he needed the window to be open, so he swiftly pulled up the glass pane, and as soon as he did this his mother scolded him, and said he might catch cold from the cold wind coming in. So he attempted to shut the pane down, but little Hercules wasn’t as mighty as he thought himself to be, so unfortunately he was not successful in keeping the cold wind from coming in, so they both moved a bit inwards in their seats. Then the boy started chewing the fried peas one by one as if he was keeping count of them! It’s fun to watch the actions of children; he started to imitate his mother. The lady had taken off her sandals and was resting her feet on the other side of the seat, so he took off his shoes too and jumped carefully onto his mother’s side of the seat and tried to lay out his tiny legs and rest the on the other side just like her. But the gap between the two seats was actually larger than the length of his legs so he could not keep balance. Failing at this attempt several times he finally crossed over to his original place. By this time his packet of fried peas were finished, and he needed rest. The best way to rest in an empty train compartment? Lay out flat on the seat and sleep. he supported the head on his little joined hands and laid straight on his back on the seat and stared out of the window with wide open eyes. This position remained unharmed for about….. a few seconds. Then he turned to an arch position it seemed as if he was trying gymnastics while laying down and looked at me, his face upside down and a big yawn occurred to make him change his sleeping position! Then he lifted his left leg on the head rest of the seat and kept his right leg hanging and swinging from the seat! But because of the woolen clothing, his left leg continuously slid down… so he gave up this position and tried something more experimental. Now he put both his legs on the head rest and allowed them to hang onto the back side of the adjoining seat. But suddenly he slipped and was almost about to fall; now his mother calmly told him that if he did not sit properly he would probably fall off the running train. Fearing to fly off from a running train he sat up quickly and gazed out of the window trying to concentrate on the road lights running backwards. It is obvious that a kid will never find interest in dullness; he would rather run around doing nothing than to sit and stare at the darkness outside. He was the perfect example. After some futile sessions of concentration he jumped up on his seat and started spot jumping! Then he climbed onto the top of the headrest and crossed over to the adjoining seat and repeated the process until his mother called him back to discipline. All this exercise made him pull out his red monkey cap. Believe me he was so cute and little, he didn’t even know how to undo a cap. He struggled with the cap from every direction and finally managed to pull it out and develop a deep red colour of frustration on his chubby face. I so enjoyed watching him today that I could not resist myself from writing this experience down.

Hanuman.com

There may not be a completely justified reason to this name of the film, but it’s worth a watch. The story is very different from the general conventional line Bengali films of Tollywood. Directed by Gaurav Pandey “Hanuman.com” revolves around a very simple school teacher, Anjaniputra, played by Prasenjit Chatterjee, who is forced to learn computer to cope up with the trend and set question papers using the computer. Getting internet connection to his computer he starts studying thoroughly on Albert Einstein and cockroaches!! Eventually he starts online chat with a mysterious lady named Maria from Iceland and she calls Anjaniputra, her “George Clooney”. One night Anjaniputra, on one of their video chats suddenly witnessed Maria’s murder which shook him well enough that he gave up his profession and suffered internally for not being able to tell anyone about what he saw. Finally he sells his only piece of land for a good lump sum of money and sets out for Iceland leaving a letter to his wife asking her to wait.
Then begins his journey in the delivery of truth, he gets help from several people and finally succeeds in his mission.
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The landscapes of Iceland are absolutely mesmerizing, every angle of those shots were beautiful, from the aurora to the snow covered areas. Prosentjit as always stood out on his acting skills, the girl who played the character of Nan-Noori did a great job as well. Personally I felt that there were certain things unnecessarily stuffed into the film to make it more commercial. The kantabai jokes and the gibberish dialogues of the Iceland resident Bengali man played by the director himself were unnecessary.
The timings of the story as indicated by the news regarding Vajpayee did not really go with the internet savvy era of the 2010s. Some sudden sparks of intelligence in Anjaniputra’s wife who couldn’t even recognize Einstien’s name and the fact that a teenager could hack into an important person’s personal computer were not very convincing. There might have been some sequential problem in the script; otherwise I have loved the story. This is a benchmark in the Tolly industry, where this 5crore budget film was partly shot in Iceland and came up with a very different and convincing plot never been found in the industry before. The ending might seem boring to some, while some might find a dream like resemblance of a common man’s return to his old, boring and contented life.
The use of music is absolutely wonderful. The rap version of “ikir mikir cham chikir” the use of “Prithibita naki choto hote hote” in appropriate scenes and the transformed form of “Momo chitte nite nritte” were clever works.
The title of the film might have been derived from the synonymous name of Anjaniputra – Hanuman, the brave Hindu god, the follower of Lord Ram; and the “.com” has been added to it for the internet based effect on Anjaniputra’s life.
This film is an official tribute to Goutam Chattopadyay, the Bengli rock music icon of the 80s whose Mohiner Ghoragulo became very famous.

Rating:-
Direction – 8/10 ; Plot – 8.5/10 ; Acting – 7/10 ; Script – 6/10 ; Cinematography – 8.5/10 ; Music – 8.5 /10

The Whining Ailment

Exams are just two days from now, and I am left in the middle of nowhere. All I did today was to flip through the class notes and sleep! I swore to myself that I won’t take a long nap, but sleep defied me, umm… not really, nature did find ways to wake me up but that process was rather disturbing.( Actually it is always disturbing when someone tries to wake you off your beautiful sleep.)
Perhaps I was dreaming about something when suddenly I hear a loud annoying whining near my ear, and the noise penetrated the fat blanket that I had covered my head with! No wonder it was a mosquito. Though I had a mosquito repellent on, it didn’t bother this tiny rebel to sing at my ear, and in your sleep with your limbs partially paralyzed it is really hard to concentrate on the sound and kill a mosquito. No matter how much these “All-Outs” and “Good Nights” pronounce themselves to be the best mosquito repellents with humorous advertisements, the truth is that they get immune to these chemicals. And believe me, you cannot finish a full bottle in just 2 weeks, so the longer it remains, the better it gets for the mosquito families, they breed and pass on the immunity virus to their successors, and therefore every new generation is more immune to your mosquito repellent. Thus this leaves the “All-Outs” and “Good-nights” literally as all-out’s in their field of work!!
At that moment it felt as if the mosquito was whining just like my friends and I do before the exams! It seemed as if it was complaining about not letting it enough space to enter under the blanket and bite my forehead, and it also seemed that Mr. Jazz singer was portraying me suffering from all sorts or pre-examination tension and dancing to an intolerable opera, right above my ear finally waking me up!
Well, you know what, I actually thought of writing so many things when I was in a trance of sleep and the jazz being played by the mosquito, but now when I am in front of the computer I am suffering from something called… the writer’s block!
I took out about 5 minutes to type this gibberish article on err… whatever the topic is, since my mind is floating around everywhere apart from my books. So this little typing helped me fan some freshness into my mind before it gets all blocked and jammed with the difficult, confusing & techie terms from the books…