Every now and then, when I’ve reviewed a Hindi film (Mamta, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, Kabuliwaalah, Khamoshi) or even mentioned one (Devdas, Chori Chori), someone or the other has popped up and either informed me (or reminded me) that this film was originally made in Bengali.
It was a little different with Sagarika. This film nobody told me about. I happened to be trawling IMDB checking out the synopses of all of Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar’s films, and realized—even as I read the plot of Sagarika—that this was exactly the same story as one of my favourite Hindi films, Bimal Roy’s lovely Prem Patra. Could I resist the temptation to watch it? No.
Sagarika has a storyline almost identical to that of Prem Patra. We are introduced to Arunangshu ‘Arun’ Moitra (Uttam Kumar), who is the house surgeon at a medical college. When we first see Arun, he is at the bedside of a poor [literally poverty-stricken, though also otherwise rather pathetic] patient. From the frantic mutterings of the patient – who is terrified that if he dies, his wife and children will have no-one to look after them – we get a glimpse into Arun’s past: as a child, he saw his father die, unable to get medical attention in the Godforsaken village they lived in.
Before dying, though, Arun’s father [and pretty garrulous, for someone on the verge of kicking the bucket] expressed a wish that Arun should grow up and become a doctor, so that this tragedy should not be repeated. Arun’s Jaitha Moshai, his father’s elder brother (Pahari Sanyal, an old favourite), was also begged to make sure that this dying dream was fulfilled. Jaitha Moshai duly agreed, comforted his dying brother…
…and somehow managed to have Arun brought up in Calcutta, at the home of a wealthy gentleman. Nine years Arun has spent in their house, and is now the dedicated and very respectable young doctor we see.
Very ‘respectable’, indeed. Arun’s single-minded devotion to his work and his principle of steering clear of women may have invited the scorn of his more frivolous fellow students, but it has won him brownie points with the Principal of the college. The Principal, summoning Arun into his office, commends him for his diligence, his hard work – and his ‘moral character’. This has played a huge part in the Principal’s decision to recommend Arun for a state scholarship, which will allow Arun to go abroad for higher studies.
We are now given a glimpse of the other people in Arun’s life [and there don’t seem to be too many of them; our doctor isn’t the social butterfly]. One is his best friend Kedar (Jiben Bose), who – if looks are anything to go by – appears to be much older than Arun, but is actually still in college: he’s in 3rd year, and likely to remain there, forever a student, simply because a family stipend he gets is his only as long as he’s a student. Kedar, while appearing to be a flippant sort, has hidden depths and is very loyal to Arun.
Next, there’s Shipra (Namita Sinha), the daughter of the gentleman in whose house Arun has grown up. She’s known Arun at close quarters for the past nine years (during which he’s also tutored her), and in the process, has fallen in love with Arun. It’s quite obvious to anybody with eyes, but Arun, who lives in a world of his own, is oblivious.
One day, rushing through the corridors of the college, Arun bangs into a beautiful young woman (Suchitra Sen). He’s never seen her before, but is smitten at first sight. So smitten that he pleads for help from Kedar: who is she? Kedar tells him: Sagarika, a 3rd year student. She has no parents and no siblings.
…but she gains an admirer in a jiffy. Arun falls head over heels in love with Sagarika, and while he doesn’t tell her outright, he makes it quite obvious that she is all he can think of. One day, when Sagarika is on duty in the ward along with Arun, she finds that he’s copied a portion of Rabindranath Tagore’s Sagarika on a page, which is lying in full view for everybody to see. Arun doesn’t hide it, either: he implies that it’s not Tagore’s Sagarika he’s really thinking of. Sagarika is livid, and tells him off: she has no interest whatsoever in him.
Very soon, the gossip mills at the college are running overtime. Kedar tries to stifle some of the rumours, but everybody continues to talk about how besotted Arun is. Sagarika too hears of this, and is acutely embarrassed and annoyed.
Other people too are being affected by Arun’s infatuation with Sagarika: Shipra is burning up with jealousy. To the extent that [and this bit was a little unclear; the DVD seemed to skip a bit] she uses underhand means to break up the Arun-Sagarika love story [one-sided as it is]. At home, she tears a page out of Arun’s diary – with his outpourings of affection written on it – and next we see, Sagarika and Arun are in the Principal’s office and the Principal is saying how disappointed and disillusioned he is in Arun.
It seems Shipra has engineered a fake love letter, supposedly from Arun to Sagarika, and an angry Sagarika has complained to the Principal about it. As a result, the Principal has put a stop to that prospective state scholarship. Arun, humiliated and angry, quickly packs at home (and, in the course of packing, finds his diary with that page torn out – and realises, therefore, what Shipra has done). He doesn’t chastise Shipra, though. Only, when Shipra tries to stop him by confessing her love for him, Arun tells her the truth: he has only ever regarded her as a sister.
Arun, shamed and with his prospects at an all-time low, goes back home to his village and his uncle. He has still not given up hope that he will be able to go abroad for higher studies; it will, however, cost a bomb now, without the scholarship. Don’t worry, says Jaitha Moshai: I will find a way.
In the meantime, a remorseful Shipra has gone to Sagarika and confessed all. She had forged the letter; Arun had never written it. Which basically means that, thanks to Sagarika’s impulsive complaint to the Principal, Arun had been wrongfully deprived of his scholarship. Sagarika feels awful.
Soon after, Sagarika’s Jaitha Moshai (Jahar Ganguly) arrives at her home, along with his daughter Basantika ‘Basanti’ (Jamuna Sinha). Basanti is sweet and shy, a gauche village girl. Her father gives Sagarika some good news – Basanti’s marriage has been fixed – and asks for her help: will Sagarika please groom Basanti, teach her everything she needs to be a suitable bride for a modern young doctor?
In the course of the conversation, it emerges who the doctor is: Arun. The young couple have not met each other yet, Basanti’s father tells Sagarika, so it will be good if the first time they see each other, Basanti makes a good impression.
Sagarika is devastated – though, being the stoic and long-suffering heroine that she is, she doesn’t show it. Arun, who had been so in love with her, is to marry Basanti! She learns, too, that Arun (whose studies have been financed by Basanti’s father) has gone to the UK to study and will be away two years. Meanwhile, Sagarika gets down to grooming Basanti, taking her to parties, teaching her to socialize, introducing her to friends.
…including the suave [read slimy] Asit, who has also been a classmate of Sagarika’s. Basanti is soon taken in by Asit’s [rather dubious] charm.
Meanwhile, a letter arrives from Arun. It’s his first letter to Basanti, and Basanti is wary of responding: she’s an illiterate village girl, she insists; how will her uneducated ramblings appeal to Arun? After much wheedling, Sagarika offers to write the letter; Basanti can copy it and mail it.
Sagarika writes the letter, and puts her heart and soul into it [it turns out to be a rather syrupy, high-on-emotion letter, but she is pleased with it].
Arun is entranced by the letter he’s received, and replies in equally sugary form. When his letter arrives at their home in Calcutta, Basanti hands it over to Sagarika: after all, it is a response to Sagarika’s letter. Basanti never did copy out the letter – her handwriting is so horrendous [considering she’s writing to a doctor, that should probably be poetic justice!]. She sent the original letter. Sagarika’s letter.
By now Basanti is so busy touring the sights and painting the town red with Asit that she has no time to answer, or even read, Arun’s letters. It falls to the conscientious Sagarika (and also a Sagarika who derives a vicarious pleasure out of the activity?) to write to Arun, pretending to be Basanti. Over the two years she and Arun correspond, Arun falls deeply in love with this sensitive and loving ‘Basanti’, and ‘Basanti’ reciprocates – knowing full well that when Arun returns, the cat will be out of the bag.
But tragedy waits round the corner: Arun has an accident in the lab and loses his eyesight. He is assured that his vision will almost certainly return within a year or so, but Arun is so shattered that he promptly returns to Calcutta, where Basanti and her father have already decided to call off the marriage – how can Basanti marry a blind man? – and Sagarika, helped by the ever-supportive Kedar, comes forward to help, still calling herself Basanti.
How will the truth emerge? [No surprises there, actually] And what will the result be? [Again, no surprises]
What I liked about this film:
The Suchitra Sen-Uttam Kumar pairing. They are among my favourite screen couples, and though I didn’t care for their chemistry here as much as I have in other films like Chaowa-Paowa and Agni Pariksha, they’re still very watchable. And total eye candy.
The songs. The music, by Robin Chatterjee, is lovely – among the songs I really loved are Tobo bijoy mukut and Hraday amar sundara tabo: both beautifully sung. One very unusual song – all about the medical profession! – is Amra medical collegey podi (do listen to this, even if you don’t understand Bengali: many of the words are in English, medical terms).
What I didn’t like:
The rather unconvincing love story of Arun and Sagarika. On Arun’s side, the love-at-first-sight (even though I’m always cynical of that) is at least somewhat acceptable as reason for his continuing to love Sagarika despite the fact that Sagarika’s complaint nearly ruins his life. On Sagarika’s side, considering there is no initial attraction to Arun – in fact, she shows nothing but embarrassment and annoyance towards him until Shipra confesses – the sudden change of heart seems implausible. Remorse, after all, does not change into a fierce and undying love overnight, especially when the object of one’s affections is out of sight, and betrothed to another.
Every time I review a film I’ve encountered in another version (cinema or book), I like to see how the two match up. Six years after Agragami wrote and directed Sagarika, Bimal Roy remade the film in Hindi as Prem Patra. The story of the two films is almost the same, though with some changes in characters, random incidents, etc. For instance, in Prem Patra, Ratna (Shipra in Sagarika) is a college student, but not in the medical college; and Tara (Basanti in Sagarika) is a shy, sweet girl who falls in love with not a rotter like Asit, but a genuinely nice guy. There is, too, in Prem Patra, an additional romance between Rajendra Nath and Chand Usmani’s characters; in Sagarika, Kedar does not have a love interest.
For me, Sagarika has one advantage over Prem Patra: it has fewer distractions (that particular incident of the tiger hunt in Prem Patra, for instance, is something I could have done without). Also, the fact that Shipra studies in the medical college – and is therefore able, first hand, to see Arun’s growing infatuation with Sagarika and the way gossip begins to circulate – makes it easier to accept her increasing jealousy.
And what’s there to recommend Prem Patra? A lot, really. First and foremost (and this, I think, should take precedence in a romantic film), the romance develops gradually and believably. Arun and Kavita (Sadhna’s equivalent of the Sagarika character) are shyly attracted to each other from the moment they meet, but there’s nothing except shy glances – which speak a lot, but don’t outright proclaim love. This makes it easier to understand why Kavita is so distressed when she realises what has happened, and also later, when she falls deeply in love with Arun through his letters: we saw this coming.
Also, there’s a logical and believable build-up to her complaint: we know Kavita has been receiving annoying anonymous love letters for a while now, and has threatened to complain to the principal the next time it happens. Her reaction to the love letter from ‘Arun’ is hardly a bolt from the blue, then. Even despite that foundation, there is an initial hesitation on Kavita’s part – because she does like Arun, she is reluctant to report him; the instigation comes from her catty classmates.
The fact that Shashi Kapoor’s Arun is deeply hurt by Kavita’s complaint – and does not stay in love with her, as does Uttam Kumar’s Arun – is another point in favour of Prem Patra. It adds to the conflict: Kavita knows Arun hates Kavita (he says so repeatedly in his letters and is very bitter about it) but is in love with her illusory Tara. Sagarika, on the other hand, knows (because the blind Arun confesses to her) that he still loves Sagarika; in her case, her love becomes more a matter of conscience than anything else: she cannot come between Basanti and Arun.
Another thing I like about Prem Patra vis-à-vis Sagarika is the treatment of two minor but important characters: Tara/Basanti, Subhash/Asit. In Prem Patra, Tara and Subhash’s love is a genuine one, so one really does end up rooting for them to get together – in Sagarika, Asit is such a slimy character, one can’t sympathise with Basanti, even if she gets carried away by her naïveté. (Actually, Agragami was probably trying to present a moral lesson through Basanti’s fate in Sagarika: if you are selfish, you will end up alone and miserable).
Lastly, I found Prem Patra far less melodramatic, more restrained and subtle and believable. Given a choice of the two films, the one I’d rewatch would be Prem Patra, not Sagarika. Even though Sagarika is good.
Wow, am so happy about this discovery! Don’t ask me why.
Your review makes me want to try to watch Prem Patra again. Last time I tried, but it couldn’t really hold my attention.
Thanks for this insightful review.
“Wow, am so happy about this discovery! Don’t ask me why.”
Now I am curious! Why? :-)
You should give Prem Patra another try. It’s one of my favourite Hindi film romances – I thought it such a pleasant change from the usual ‘fall-in-love-at-first-sight’ (or ‘fall-in-love-after-being-stalked’). A gradual, believable love. And I do like Sadhna and Shashi Kapoor. :-)
I don’t know, I just felt happy.
Slightly like the ‘proxy’ love between Rani Mukherjee and Hritik Roshan in Mujhse Dosti Karogi. I see shades of the story in nice film, Kaise Kahoon. A little bit of the story (the scandal part) was used in Safar as well.
Bengali stories are certainly eventful, I see from the synopsis of this film.
Uttam Kumar is so handsome.
I must admit I’ve never seen either Mujhse Dosti Karoge or Kaise Kahoon. Worth watching? (And I like Hrithik and Rani, so if it’s any good, I’d like to!). Yes, the scandal part is somewhat reminiscent of Safar. Have you seen Prem Patra, Ava?
And, oh, yes: Uttam Kumar was yum.
I must confess that I enjoyed your review and your asides more than I will probably like the film. At the risk of annoying a whole lot of Suchitra Sen’s fans, I have never been a great admirer of her as an actress. And somehow, Prem Patra comes off as better in comparison (as per your review). I guess I will remain satisfied with reading the review of the Bengali original. :)
I don’t mind Suchitra Sen’s acting in Hindi cinema, though the fact that she obviously wasn’t comfortable with the language shows in her diction, which does tend to put me off a bit. In Bengali cinema, from the very little I’ve seen, it seems to me that her acting did depend very much on the film – in this (a fairly melodramatic film, especially when compared to the much more subtle Prem Patra), she is melodramatic. On the other hand, in a restrained film like Deep Jwele Jaai, I thought she was brilliant. In fact, I thought she actually outdid Waheeda Rehman in that role (and now the Waheeda fan will probably come down on me!)
Scoot over Anu – I need to join you under that rock.:-) I don’t get the fuss about Suchitra Sen (as an actress) either and it’s not from a lack of trying either as I’ve watched all of her Hindi films and a couple of her Bengali ones as well. But all she ever seems to do is gaze at people while tilting her head at awkward angles.:-)
I love Prem Patra and when it comes to “Sagarika”, like Anu I think I’ll just stick to enjoying your review of it Madhu. . :-)
“But all she ever seems to do is gaze at people while tilting her head at awkward angles.:-)”
LOL! Very true. As far as her Hindi films are concerned, her diction ruins it all for me (besides which, as someone mentioned on Facebook to me, in most Hindi films, her dialogue was restricted and she had to rely more on expressions – which perhaps adds to that ’tilting-head-like-a-bird’ look). I’ve not seen too many of her Bengali films, but from what I’ve seen, she’s either fairly ordinary (as in Sagarika) or very good, as in Deep Jwele Jaai. Depends, I think, on the director.
Yes, stick to Prem Patra, Shalini. Much better!
I did mention in my comment on your review of Prem Patra that it was a remake of a Bengali film, but I had forgotten the name of the Bengali film. I have not seen Sagarika, I would now like to see it after having read your review. BTW Agragami is the name for a group of directors, my mum knew the names of all the directors, I do not know the names. They also directed individually.
I had no idea that Agragami was not one person, but several! How interesting. Thank you for telling me about that, Shilpi. One lives and learns.
Last week Anu Ji posted an article on letters and her favourite songs on letters. Similar to the movie Love Letter (1945), where Alan was writing to Victoria for Rogers, Sagarika was writing the letters for Basanti to Arun. But the similarity ends there.
Thanks for the nice review and the comparison with Prem Patra was interesting. I have not watched Prem Patra.
Sagarika was a roaring success. It ran for 6months in one theatre. I saw this movie in the seventies. True, as you have mentioned it may be melodramatic (it is), like the other films of this pair this film too had a stimulating effect on thousand of youngsters of the 50s to 70s. I was no exception. In fact the combination of melodrama and captivating songs caught the imagination of the young generation then.
Robin Chatterjee’s music too was a contributing factor.The song ‘Amar swapne dekha raj kannya thake’ was on the lips of many youngsters. He used the Piano to good effect in this film. He used the Shehnai adeptly in the film Shilpi, also released in 1956 and directed by Agragami. Incidentally Netai Bhattacharya wrote both Sagarika and Shilipi.
Suchita Sen was very bold, judging by the standards of those days, especially that of ‘Bengali Bhadra lok’. She was not reluctant to be physically intimate with her heroes, but never indecent or vulgar. In Sagarika in the final scene she embraced Uttam which was unimaginable in Bengali films of those days.
Sagarika was Uttam-Suchitra’s 11th film. They started with Sare Chuattar in 1953, and as a pair they never looked back. Spurred by the success of this film we saw 6 films of this pair released in 1954, another 3 films in 1955 and 4 more films in 1956. Sagarika was one of the four films released in 1956. Suchita Sen worked in 53 Bengali films, of which 30 films were with Uttam Kumar. Such was the pair’s popularity.
I have not watched Prem Patra. After reading your interesting comparison, I would like to watch it shortly. As far as acting is concerned, I would rank Saat Pake Bandha as her best movie. I think this film was made in Hindi as Kora Kagaz.
WoC is right. Agragami mainly constituted of number of directors, among whom I could recollect the names of Saroj Dey and Nisith Bannerjee. Similarly Agradoot too was group.
One more observation I would like to make. It is Rabindranath’s overwhelming influence. The name Sagarika itself is derived from a poem of the same name by Rabindranath written in October 1927, which I think Arun (Uttam Kumar), was reading after his first meeting with Sagarika. Repeated use of lines from Rabindrasangeet can also be noticed in the letters, Arun wrote to Basanti (Sagarika). Like lines from the songs Duhkhero Barasai Chokser sei jal naamlo, Tumi Naba naba roope eso prane and the line Aami tomar birahe Bileen from the song Aamaar paran jaha chaay etc.
Thank you once again.
Venkataramanji, thank you! You have added so much to my store of knowledge. Thank you for sharing that. Incidentally, that last scene in Sagarika came as a surprise to me, too – the hero and heroine embracing is something I’ve never seen before in a Bengali film from the 50s. Not that I’ve seen many, but still.
Please do try and watch Prem Patra and tell me what you think. Barring the 20-minute episode of the tiger hunt (which I think is completely superfluous and should have been edited out), I think it’s a wonderful movie. I also notice that the Shemaroo Channel on Youtube has it:
Thank you Madh Ji for the link.
You’re welcome, Venkataramanji. I hope you enjoy the film.
I am extremely sorry for missing “u” in spelling your name, MADHU Ji.
Arre, Venkataramanji! No problem at all.
I have most of the songs of Prem Patra in my song collection. But I was totally unaware of the details of the movie. From your interesting writeup, I feel like watching the movie. Thanks for the effort taken to inform and entertain us.
Thank you! Do try and watch Prem Patra if you find the time – it’s really a lovely little film.
Hello, Reading your review makes me want to revisit Prem Patra. I had watched it some years back but it didnt hold my interest. I shall go and listen first to the songs of Prem Patra – lovely music by Salilda. If I remember right there was a lovely Lata solo – Ab aur na Kuch Bhi Yaad Raha… when does that feature ? After Shashi Kapoor has lost his eyesight and Sadhana is in love?
Thanks for the interesting write-up as always!
Yes, Ab aur na kuchh bhi yaad raha comes after Shashi Kapoor has lost his eyesight. Lovely song. Another particular favourite of mine is a song picturised on him, towards the end of the film: Yeh mere andhere ujaale na hote: Talat singing for Shashi Kapoor, and beautifully as always.
And thank you for the appreciation! :-)
Nice review. I remember watching prem patra. Had great songs. Is it true that Aradhana (Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore) was also a remake of a Bengali film?
I’ve no idea if Aradhana was a remake as well – perhaps some readers who’ve seen more Bengali films than I have will know?
Just googled ‘Aradhana’ and it says it is a remake of a 1946 English movie ‘To each his own’. this is the link
It also informs the movie was dubbed into Bengali and remade in Tamil and Telegu
I did not know all this about my all time favorite hindi film!
Wow. I had no idea. I do like Olivia de Havilland, so I should look out for To Each His Own. Thanks for that!
I love Uttam Kumar and Suchitra, but this one doesn’t sound like it can match up to Prem Patra. Uttam Kumar probably makes a much better Dr. Arun than Shashi (he did look a bit young for the part), but in a woman centric story like this, I much prefer Sadhana. (Suchitra tends to go in for Mala Sinha-like histrionics in most Bengali films I’ve seen!) By the way, what happens to poor Basanti?
Yes, I love the Suchitra Sen-Uttam Kumar pairing too (especially in stuff like Chaowa-Paowa, which I really liked), but this paled in comparison to Prem Patra. Uttam Kumar does look old enough to be at least a house surgeon (I agree, Shashi Kapoor looked too young), but I thought SK’s Arun was better etched: more believable, really, that he has fallen out of love with the girl who treated him so shabbily. And Sadhana was far better – possibly also because the character was less melodramatic – than Ms Sen.
Basanti? Well, Asit tries to molest her while on a date, but she is saved just in time by Kedar, and Asit gets told off. Then (as in Prem Patra) she is persuaded to be present when Arun’s eyes are un-bandaged, but he cottons on, of course, and ends up getting together with Sagarika. So Basanti gets her just desserts for having been so selfish as to even think of refusing to marry a blind man – she ends up alone and miserable.
See? One major reason why I prefer Prem Patra. Less lesson-must-be-learnt.
I (grudgingly) agree with the relative comparison of Prempatra and Sagarika. In my list Sagarika of course ranks quite low But when we compare the movies we have to keep one thing in mind, at that time (especially Bengali’s), director were the Boss. And then when we compare Agragami, despite their a few excellent ones (which actually came a bit late, this is probably the combine’s first movie) they really can’t be on par with Bimal Roy, in fact a few only could hold lamp for him- Warning, before you pop up a name, as an iconoclast I don’t go gaga over even Ray :-) .
This is in fact one of the very rare ones where the Hindi remake could compare or exceed the original Bengali. All other one were quite a notch lower than original- Choti Si Mulakat (AgniP), Chupke Chupke(Chhadmabeshi) the list is quite long.
In my hypothesis, the reason is that, the Bengali movies, most of them that went on to become classics, moved along a relatively simple path, not creating too much of distraction. Simple story, simply told. Chhadmabeshi has a very low presence of the second romance whereas in Chupke Chupke, that had a prominent place. One could of course argue on the star coefficient (Read Cash Counter) of Amitabh. But was that the only reason for expanding his role? .
I can count any number of Uttam’s movies (and that was when he was the apple of the bong-audience’s eyes) where he had played secondary role, just an example that immediately hit the mind was Upohar (Tapan Sinha- of course not a movie I would advocate) was basically Sabitri’s movie- and there she wasn’t paired with him (he already had a gorgeous wife, Manju Dey). Mouchak, Hotel Snowfox etc were at later age, but even then he had been romancing elsewhere. In Nishipadma he has taken a movie where all the male characters, including his, were show pieces.
In addition to this, the problem may be that for bollywood-isation you need more glamour, more twists and turns, forcing even poor Uttam (at that age- Chhoti si Mulaqat) to twist. And of course in Bengal scene, it was director’s cut up to around 80s, which Bolly had lost somewhere around late-fifties/early sixties , when the superstars, Raj, Dilip and then Rajesh, Amitabh started shadow-directing.
Thank you for that long, insightful, and thought-provoking comment (and thank you for the recommendations in the course of it). Among the other Bengali films that are better than their Hindi remakes, I’d also add – though the difference isn’t much – Deep Jwele Jaai. Though Khamoshi is excellent, I think the Bengali film has a subtlety that puts it just a couple of notches above the Hindi one. Interesting, considering the director was the same – but then, I guess Asit Sen might have been catering to Hindi-speaking audiences and thought subtlety might be lost somewhat on them. I doubt if Rajesh Khanna – this was very early in his career – would have had much chance of doing any shadow-directing there.
I think You have watched Agnipariksha (the original 1954 version of Chhoti si Mulaqat, it is much more simplified story. No love triangle or even quadrangle. The other girl (she is in fact Heroine’s aunt), Sashikala in Hindi, initially was interested in hero, but the moment she knows it is her niece’s (though of same age) property, she backs off. Automatically the other vamp (Sashikala’s mother) becomes non-existent. The Rajendranath character almost doesn’t exist in Bengali. Due to these facts, they could devote more time in character building and that, for bollywood matters may be treated as slow?
Most of the Bong movies (you might be familiar with them) will be treated as too slow for average bolly audience, that’s why the separate “Art Movie” genre was created, which was defined as the movies that are expected to fall flat on face in box-office.
The classic bong movies take some time in building the character of the main protagonists in advance, so that their further actions (at least for me, when I watch them) could be defined. A beauty I found was Keranir Jibon (1952 or so) quite similar to my favourite (Nutan’s Humlog) but extremely well made. Premangshu Bose character was head and shoulder’s above Balraj Sahni (Hum Log). I normally, (again being iconoclast) look at the movies that are too obscure, most of them have either no reviews available, or if they are then they are so disconnected that it finally has very less relation (after you watch) with the movie. Try another Agun (Soumitra, Anil and Kanika Majumdar; Sandhya Roy is there , but she pales). I don’t know have you seen Ahwan – very poignant story, Anil again with Hemangini Devi- Romance with Sandhya is even below secondary in the plot). There are so many above average movies, that when I watch some new movies, at least one out of 3-4 comes out to be mentionable.
BTW: Kuheli- I suppose you might have seen it. It is not based on Rebecca, (Kohra is) but on some other novel. Kohra/Rebecca has the newly wed bride arriving. Kuheli has the governess for the child (a la Sound of Music). As I recall there are quite some difference between the novel and the movie here too. But the name of the novel simply disappeared from memory :-( the grey things are shrivelling fast.
No, I haven’t yet seen Kuheli, though I’d always heard of it as being a remake of Rebecca. Now I’m keen on watching it and seeing what the differences are.
Entirely different story, the only similarity is the Mrs Denvers/ Lalita Pawar role by Chhaya Devi, haunted house, suspected to be murderer husband (Biswajit, but fortunately highly bearded so absence of acting skills do not catch eyes), murdered wife (Sandhya Roy). I would say it is a far better made movie, though that may seem to be influenced by the director’s name, Tarun Majumdar, but to defend it, that I found out only after watching the movie, getting impressed and then trying to google to see other movies by the director, Then only I came to know that it was him, under a pseudonym.
It has one of my favourite Rabindrasangeets too, which first prompted me to watch it, despite assuming it was Kohra remake, since the expression of Sandhya and Biswajit in the song didn’t fit Rebecca situation.
It is available in Youtube “Tumi Robe Nirabey”- You would be always in my heart, glowing it with/ like a soft (full)moon light. In the movie the song suits the situation. And most important part in this romantic song is the change in expression and Lata joining Hemanta in last stanza, which didn’t suit Rebecca, but exactly did the movie story here. It could have only with a gender reversal, or very bad direction/ interpretation of the situation, since the heroine joins in to say “Share not only my happiness but also my pains and aches” why would Rebecca/Or even the second wife of unknown name – I don’t recall it is ever mentioned in Rebecca, she was always Mrs De Winters-II – say that? It was what Max would have.