Bengali Films in the history books
The Early Years of Bengali cinema
In 1897, films were shown for the first time in
. Couple of years later, Hiralal Sen from north
started making films at the Classic Theatres. In 1901, Hiralal Sen set up Royal Bioscope, produced scenes and dance sequences from popular Bengali plays.
's Star Theatres, Amritlal Bose screened a package of 'actualities' and 'fakes' along with plays and variety shows. Back in those days, bioscope was an added attraction to popular theatres. In 1898, the multinational Warwick Trading Co. had commissioned 'Panaroma of Calcutta' newsreel. In 1917, Raja Harishchandra, the first feature film in was made by Dadasaheb Phalke. The first Bengali movie was "Billwamangal" in 1919 which happened to be a silent movie. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was a popular Bengali novelist whose several works were adapted into films, such as, Durgeshnandini, Krishnakanter Will etc.
The first popular hero in Bengali film was probably Pramathesh Barua, who was a director himself too. Debaki Bose, Pramathesh Barua gave a new dimension to Indian cinema. Debaki Bose directed Chandidas in 1932; this film is noted for its breakthrough in recording sound. Sound recordist Mukul Bose found out solution to the problem of spacing out dialogue and frequency modulation.
The first Bengali talkie, Dena Paona was released in 1931, directed by Premankur Atarthi and produced by New Theatres. Famous musician Rai Chand Boral composed music for this movie. In 1935, P.C.Barua directed and acted in Saratchandra Chatterjee's popular novel Devdas and this film became a phenomenon in the industry. Bimal Roy directed the Hindi version of the same in 1955. Kanan Devi was the first star actress in the domain if Bengali cinema. The movie, Rajat
anti, a popular Bengali comedy probably was the first of its kind. The movie was directed by P.C. Barua starring himself and Pahari Sanyal. Another historical film was 'Biyallis(42)' based on Quit India movement of 1942. The film was banned for political reason. Bikash Roy's performance in this movie is memorable. Also there was a group of talented actors such as Chhabi Biswas, Bikash Roy, Pahari Sanyal, Basanta Choudhury. And there never was any shortage of good stories, as Bengali literature in 21st century was rich with elements all the time.
This was accompanied by the musical talents of
produced a good flow of film directors, a few to mention - Devaki Basu, Nitin Basu, Ajay Kar, Rajen Tarafdar, Bimal Roy, Tapan Sinha, Saroj Dey, Tarun Mazumder etc. who continuously produced fine quality movies. Some of them moved to Mumbai(
) and made reamrakable contribution to Hindi films.
The real stardom in Bengali films started when films starring Uttamkumar and Suchitra Sen gained extreme popularity. This romantic combination brought golden age of commercial Bengali cinema and the duo acted in a series of box office successes like, Sare Chuattor, Saptapadi, Sapmochan, Harano Sur, Pathe Holo Deri etc. Uttamkumar acted with other heroines such as Supriya, Sabitri, Madhabi, Aparna and others. Suchitra Sen received best actress award in Moscow Film Festival for her role in Saat Paake Badha co-starring Saumitra Chatterjee.
And there was a group of directors in parallel cinema (art film), who were continuing experiment with this medium of art. The biggest event of Indian cinema was the release of Pather Panchali in 1955 made by Satyajit Ray based on a novel of Bibhutibhusan Banerjee. This film connected Indian film to the rest of the world. The movie was acclaimed throughout the world specially in the Western world as a symbol of humanity. Ray made a series of three movies starting with Pather Panchali based on the complete novel of Banerjee, the other two being - Aparajito and Apur Sansar. The three movies are well known as Apu-Trilogy. Apart from Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak made internationally acclaimed movies followed by a group consisting of Budhhadeb Dasgupta, Gautam Ghosh, Utpalendu Chakrabarti, Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh etc.
An introduction to Bengali cinema cannot be completed without mentioning one of it's finest actor, Saumitra Chatterjee. His place in the mind of Bengali movie lovers is established by his role as Apu and Felu-da in Ray's movies. Also Bengali cinema was enriched by the presence of actresses like, Arundhuti Devi, Supriya Choudhury, Sabitri Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee, Sharmila Thakur, Aparna Sen and Debasree Roy. And in the recent years - Rituparna Sengupta, Indrani Halder.
Ranjit Mallick, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Tapas Pal, Chiranjit Chakrabarty - are few of the contemporary actors who act in leading roles in Bengali films. Quite a number of actors/actresses created long lasting impression in Bengali film lovers' minds by appearing in character roles - Utpal Dutta, Tulsi Chakrabarty, Gangapada Bose, Rabi Ghosh, Anil Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee, Anup Kumar, Bhanu Bandyopadhyay, Chhaya Devi, Manju Dey, Dipankar Dey, Biplab Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Anjan Dutta, Mamatshankar, Haradhan Mukherjee are some of them.
Some movie talents moved to Mumbai(
) film world(Bollywood) and became successful. Here are few of them to mention - Pradipkumar, Sharmila Tagore, Biswajit Chatterjee, Rakhi Biswas(Gulzar),
a Bhaduri(Bachchan), Mausumi Chatterjee, Mithun Chakrabarty.