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I am suggesting that the discursive texture of representational worlds in film melodrama might very well serve as complementary modes of response to concrete historical demands on the modern spectator-subject. Major studio socials of the decade display an idiosyncratic pattern in which the spheres of privacy or conjugality are orchestrated in relation to broader ideological concerns, as I shall discuss below.
Jayantakumar Ghosh Kolkata, Srishti Prokashani, , p. For the time being I wish to chart some alternative trajectories of research rather than engaging explicitly with each version of such arguments.
I hope that the ensuing discussions will reveal my critical engagement with some of these formulations.
Moroner Pore by Swami Avedananda Bengali PDF Book
I merely seek to point out that the historical demands in question address the cinematic spectator as much as it confers other social subjectivities.
Formed by Babulall Chowkhani in , the studio started its own production with the decadence often mobilizing polyvalent generic and narrative frameworks. It is worth remembering that the gradual industrial dominance of socials over mythologicals around late 30s is not merely an economic or formal issue but also one which involved questions pertaining to gender and performance.
A critical study of the studio and its cultural significance in the popular domain, although necessary, will require a broader space.
I merely point towards a few significant tendencies here. For basic historical information on the studio see Gourangaprasad Ghosh, Sonar Daag 2nd edition Kolkata: Jogmaya Prokashoni, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, , p.
The codification of a modern romantic persona that Uttam Kumar came to symbolize in the 50s may historically involve a reverse construction of prevalent star image in accordance to the new legal and social constraints placed on the masculine subject.
Moreover, as I suggested above, both traditional and contemporary studies of Bengali popular cinema have taken for granted the sensational popularity of the star duo, ignoring the context of historical reception.
On further reflection, the apparent public discomfort with sensuality seems to conceal a larger apprehension with questions of authority and autonomy in and of romance, which film melodrama of the period so perceptively addressed.
However, my observations regarding the historical significance of such debates require to be revised in light of new archival evidences obtained.
Manipal University, The attendant transformations in modes of marketing and spectatorial address necessitated any emerging film genre to consolidate these ensuing demands.
Such an exercise will also help us to situate the star personas of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen in light of broader linkages between representational and social concepts. However, the critical significance of the term, if any, cannot be properly determined without an enquiry into the modes of transition in popular cinema from studio socials of the s to the rise of independently produced romantic melodrama into the 50s that is our object of enquiry.
Film critic Rajat Ray, in what is perhaps the only critical essay on popular cinema of the decade, attempts an aesthetic evaluation of Bengali cinema during the politically 15 The observations outlined in the above section are provisional and based on my ongoing research into the historiography of Bengali cinema.
I have discussed a few issues and evidences related to 50s popular cinema in a recent research paper. A cursory scan of the list reveals that around 55 of the mentioned films can be broadly categorized as socials, that is films dealing with themes centered around the family, social relationships or emotional discords in a modern context. Evidently, most of these films also involve a romantic sub plot and in approximately of them the romantic plot serves as a significant narrative element.
However, neither Ray himself, nor contemporary critics from the 40s seem to require a separate generic coinage to refer to these socials. Kolkata: Srishti Prokashon, p. The problems of conjugality and romance in representative 40s studio socials such as Daktar The Doctor, Phani Majumdar, , Garmil Mismatch, Niren Lahiri, , or Samadhan The Solution, Premendra Mitra, are developed as one amongst the various narrative tropes that facilitated the depiction of social dichotomies elicited by the arrival of modernity as a familiar cultural frame.
Such plot constructions would often address the moral impasse pertaining to conjugality as a locus for negotiation of emerging crises in the older patriarchal system. In both these narrative contexts, the structuring of conjugal autonomy in terms of its psychological and spatial manifestations is hindered by overseeing patriarchal agencies. These symbolic representations mostly attempt to validate the effective function of traditional community ties as social cement despite the significant historical transformations in both public and private spheres.
Romantic plots here serve to delineate the contours of such symbolic predicaments rather than figuring as sites of narrative conflicts in their own right. Thus, it is necessary to locate the nature of transformation and the attendant accumulation of narrative motifs that constituted the so-called novelty of romantic films in the 50s.
Contrary to popular perception, it is important to note that the romantic imagery inaugurated by Agni Pariksha operated within a conventional narrative framework discussed above.
In fact, the series of films following Agni Pariksha, took off from its popularity and systematically explored new thematic and formal conventions in rendering of romantic aura. Let us now consider some of the significant motifs that came to dominate these narratives of coupling, instead of restricting ourselves to any particular text.
To begin with, it is interesting to note that a few narrative motifs, which reappear in the Uttam-Suchitra series through the 50s, have their origin in films predating Agni Pariksha. Sadanander Mela in particular, introduces a typology of characterization that would be repeated in various guises throughout the decade. The young male protagonist played by Uttam Kumar was often depicted as a geographically and socially dislocated individual striving to internalize emerging social mandates in a middle class, urban milieu.
Whereas, Suchitra Sen would frequently represent an articulate young woman with stable urban roots, whose search for ideal companionship goes hand in hand with her zeal for independence in social as well as professional terms.
In films of the duo until Agni Pariksha, the romantic conciliation between the couple seem to be overshadowed by a set of thematic concerns involving reorganization of the broader community network in post-independence era for example in Sare Chuattar, Sadanander Mela, Ora Thake Odhare.
By the mid 50s, the romantic plot gradually started taking up a relatively autonomous function thereby overriding the conventional parameters imposed by earlier socials.
The complex unfolding of narratives in representative romantic films of the decade such as Sagarika Agragami, , Harano Sur The Lost Tune, Ajoy kar, or Indrani Niren Lahiri, are motivated towards elaboration of the romantic plot, which serves as the central thematic concern orchestrating all other elements in the diegetic universe.
Secondly, the Uttam-Suchitra romances are exclusively marked by the astounding absence of representative patriarchal authorities that oversee romantic encounters in conventional socials. In Sagarika for example, the short rehearsal by the conservative college principal serves to induce an emotional bonding between protagonists rather than effectively repressing it.
Indeed, quite often, the nature of consenting authority in the romantic genre of films bears a social status that signifies lenience rather than discipline: as for example the brotherly neighbor in Bipsaha and common friend of the couple in Sagarika both played by the actor Jiben Bose or the cooperative father in Harano Sur.
In most cases, representative authorities are either absent resulting in portrayal of either or both protagonists as orphan [for example Shilpi The Artist, Agragami, , Bipasha Agradoot, ] or else the authority in question is rendered psychologically weak in order to be ineffective as moral locus for example the father figures in Maraner Pare, Agni Pariksha, Harano Sur.
In other words, this new romantic imagination no longer attempts to legitimize itself with reference to traditional forms of authority and instead seeks to formulate an alternative paradigm. Monash University, More importantly, the thematic reorganizations are now manifested on the textual surface, frequently complemented by formal techniques that seem to relocate the value of romantic affect in relation to other narrative concerns.
The Uttam-Suchitra romances are characterized by consistent organization of cinematic spaces that house the concrete elaboration of romance as private conversations involving sharing of personal history and intimate trivialities, not necessarily linked to song sequences. Throughout the decade, a number of visual motifs such as tree shades, hillsides, flowers and foliages alluded to the autonomy of this romantic space in relation to other social spaces depicted in the narrative.
For instance in Shilpi The Artist, Agragami, the requirement of a spatial embellishment of the romance beyond the patriarchal gaze overseeing the household deflects intimate exchanges to an analogous meeting space, referred to as Botanical Gardens in the dialogue track.
The concrete journey into this space is never depicted and furthermore the entry or exit to the private space of dalliance is often marked by the use of abrupt cuts or dissolves. In fact, the sudden rightward pan ending the first liaison of the lovers is reminiscent of spatial shifters in the theatrical form; more like a conscious marking of spatial disjuncture than a conventional narrative punctuation.
In fact , such mystical delineation of spatial coordinates ironically enable these same spaces to perform a dual function as symbolic proof-bearers of romance, animating the settings into authoritative entities represented by people or overseeing agencies in conventional narratives. In other words, the absence of proper locus of authority often allows such spaces to legitimize a private, affective bonding as a social commitment. One could argue that, in such cases spaces and objects acquire a strange value that foregrounds the problem of legitimization in relation to the invocation and emergent crisis of the private- social segregation.
He was dubbed as the 'Flop Master General'. When he entered the studio, people would laugh at him and comment "Here comes the new Durgadas He considered leaving the world of cinema and start working at Calcutta Ports. But his wife, Gouri Chatterjee told him that it would be better if he did not to do a job his heart was not in.
He later got the contact at M. Studios for three years. The film ran for 65 weeks and established Uttam in the industry. On the background of the mass migration from the then East Pakistan to Calcutta, the Uttam-Suchitra pair gave expression to the yearnings of a new, transformed city. In contrast to the earlier phase of Bengali cinema mostly dominated by the dramatised style of the New Theaters' films in the s , the Uttam-Suchitra films were marked by a more naturalistic acting style, a bit dramatic-stylized, soft-focus black-and-white cinematography with chiaroscuro effects, and a more popular and modern form of music that broke away more decisively from earlier dependence on classical types.
Uttam Kumar was especially adored for his effortless naturalism in front of the camera and a distinctively urbane charisma that broke free from the prototypical Bengali screen hero of the past.
He acted in Nayak by Satyajit Ray in which the master-director scripts the rise of a young actor with an ordinary background to a star sought after by one and all. In fact, this film may be considered as a tribute to Uttam Kumar. This near-total reign was somewhat slightly disturbed during the politically turbulent era of the late sixties up to the Emergency, when Uttam Kumar's regular, politically passive or relatively conservative romantic film persona sometimes found it difficult to fit into the narratives of unrest that came to the fore.
In Marutirtha Hinglaj , he played a mentally disturbed character. In Kuhak he was a murderous thief, while in Sesh Anka, he was a suave businessman who had murdered his wife and was romantically engaged to the daughter of a social elite and rich nobleman. In Aparichita he also played the role of a villain. Such departures were unusual in relation to set formats of stardom in Indian popular cinematic cultures, where deviating from established 'star images' were often considered to be risky.
However, this brought Uttam Kumar early recognition as a genuine actor of substance apart from a box office superstar and stood him in good stead later, especially in his collaborations with Satyajit Ray in Nayak and Chiriyakhana.
A perfectionist, Uttam Kumar performed on stage for a full year, opposite Sabitri Chatterjee in Star Theatre in the play "Shyamali" On screen, he played opposite Kaberi Bose to hone up his skills as an actor. He was also offered the role of Rajendra Kumar in the Raj Kapoor -starrer film Sangam , but for some reason he refused the role.
It is now widely accepted that Ray wrote the script with Uttam in mind.
Many people feel the film bears resemblance to Uttam Kumar's own life — the sense of anxiety and restlessness mirrored Uttam's insecurities about his phenomenal success and abiding fear that his superstardom might not last.
Uttam made the role of Arindam Mukherjee his own and Ray later confessed that if Uttam had refused the film, he would have abandoned it. He worked with Ray the following year in Chiriyakhana He explored new avenues of film-making by trying his hand at production, singing, composing music, screenplay writing and directing.
The success of his Indian films as producer — Harano Sur , Saptapadi , Bhrantibilash, Jotugriha , Grihadah — won greatest acclaim. On producing Chhoti Si Mulaqat in , which was a Hindi film starring Uttam and Vyjayanthimala , Uttam almost used up all his savings, since the film had to be shot in colour and was shot in extravagant locations. Both Uttam and Vyjayanthimala had huge hopes associated with the film, but the film was a flop leading to great disappointment for Uttam Kumar.
It was later said that this flop was one of the main reasons for triggering the heart attack, which ultimately led to his death. He came out with an authorised biography Aamar Ami in — He had a phenomenal fan base which continues even to this day.However, neither Ray himself, nor contemporary critics from the 40s seem to require a separate generic coinage to refer to these socials.
The alternative camera placements of the next sequence additionally reveals that the latter exchange was enacted under the gaze of maternal authority as evident by her framed photo hanging overhead the place where the couple interacted. Your interests Optional. The film ran for 65 weeks and established Uttam in the industry. However, this brought Uttam Kumar early recognition as a genuine actor of substance apart from a box office superstar and stood him in good stead later, especially in his collaborations with Satyajit Ray in Nayak and Chiriyakhana.
In addition to recognizing the problematic nature of such theoretical presuppositions, it is important to note that the melodramatic form facilitates a critical processing of social reality that is frequently at odds with realist protocols.
Chitrabhas: Uttam Kumar Special Issue. By then the Industry had labelled him a "flop master. I hope that the ensuing discussions will reveal my critical engagement with some of these formulations.
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