Classic & Contemporary Bengali Movies
Bird & Beckett goes to the movies at the Balboa Theatre in San Francisco’s Richmond District March 16-20. You should come along!
Before there was Bollywood, there was Tollywood– so dubbed in 1932 for the Tollygunge neighborhood of Kolkata (Calcutta) in which most of the Bengali-language movie production offices are based. Tollywood has long been the proving ground of many talents later usurped, exploited and made rich & famous by the Mumbai-based Bollywood machine.
Film connoisseurs have long savored the work of Bengali directors Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen, and more recently Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghose and now Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury… at the Balboa, we’ll endeavor to give you a rich taste of many of these talents of Kolkata’s “parallel cinema.”
At our Balboa Theatre blowout, we’ll cast a huge Spotlight on “Nagmoti” — a film from the early 1980s by the now legendary musician, ethnomusicologist and filmmaker Gautam Chattopadhyay. This dramatic feature film, set in a community of gypsies in the Ganges river delta southeast of Kolkata, won the 1983 Silver Lotus award for Best Bengali Film at the National Film Awards, India’s equivalent of the Oscars. We’ll show it in a 35mm print that’s rarely been seen since Gautam’s untimely death in 1999. Accompanying the Nagmoti screenings will be live performances by “Bengal and Beyond,” a band that fuses Bengali music and American jazz, led by bassist Bishu Chatterjee, with carnatic saxophone master Prasant Radhakrishnan, drummer Bryan Bowman and vocalist Sharmila Guha. Back in the 1970s in Kolkata, Bishu played drums and cello in his brother Gautam’s trailblazing folk-rock unit called Mohiner Ghoraguli; now Bishu is a regular on the Bird & Beckett jazz scene.
Along with Nagmoti, we’ll show a number of contemporary and classic Bengali-language films – including “Aparjita Tumi,” the brand new feature film by award-winning director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. Aparajita Tumi stars the No. 1 Bengali actor Prosenjit and was shot last summer entirely on location in the Bay Area, including key scenes in your favorite neighborhood bookshop, Bird & Beckett, and your favorite “great little place to eat,” Higher Grounds. Aparajita Tumi premiered in Kolkata in January, and we were there on the scene to soak up the glamor!
There’s nothing to rival the thrill and good feeling of a grand movie-going experience in a real theatre with a crowd of excited moviegoers — you just can’t get that good feeling when you stream flix to even the best flat-screen tv!
So brush up your Bengali… or clean up your reading glasses for the subtitles… and make your way to the historic Balboa Theatre in mid-March for what promises to be a very big show!