Good films are considered as a medium, which breaks through the barriers of language, socio-cultural milieus and ethnicities too. Although India celebrates its Bollywood style films, it’s the small budget, non-Bollywood films that grasp the audiences worldwide and break through the stereotypical Bollywood flicks. However, although most of the regional and foreign films are provided with subtitles, many of them lose its essence while being translated. Still, we have here tried to list and present 5 Bengali movies, which are worth watching with subtitles. Here’s the list—
5. Antarjali Jatra
Directed by Goutam Ghose, Antarjali Jatra was derived from a novel named “Mahayatra” by Kamal Kumar Majumdar. It is a poignant saga on the ritual of Sati and the equally atrocious ritual of “Kulin Pratha” (a kind of polygamy) that was much prevalent in Bengal in the nineteenth century. The film traces the journey of a young maiden who, to save the graces of the family, was married off to an extremely old man in his death bed, and how, she finds a company in a “dome”—a man responsible for cremating at the burning ghats. The sheer brilliance with which Ghose weaves a tale sans much dialogue or action is worth watching. Plus, Ghose’s music lends an added dimension to the whole film. The film had Shampa Ghosh and Shatrughan Sinha in leading roles and had received a lot of National and International accolades and recognition.
Further Reading: Five Great Film Directors From Bengal
4. Akaler Shandhane
Directed by a pioneer film director and one of the champions of Indian New Wave, Mrinal Sen, Akaler Shandhane is a film which every film lover must watch. The film zeroes upon a “reel” film troupe who ventures to make a film on the great man-made famine of 1943. The film showcases how, while filming, the actors’ lives get doubled and the tension it creates with the unsophisticated rural mass. It further shows an ambivalent connection between 1980 (when the film was made) and 1943 in relation to a village woman which adds yet another futuristic dimension to the film. The film had a very strong casting with Dhritiman Chatterjee, Smita Patil and Sreela Majumdar playing the lead characters. The music was composed by Salil Chowdhury. The film was appreciated by National and International critics alike and won numerous accolades including the National Film Award for the Best Feature Film and the Silver Bear—special jury prize at the 31st Berlin International Film Festival.
3. Shob Charitro Kalponik
Directed by the immensely talented actor/director Rituparno Ghosh, Shob Charitro Kalponik is one of its kinds. The film traces the journey of a woman entangled in an unhappy marriage with a famous poet. However, just at the moment she was trying to end this marriage that she learns about her husband’s untimely dead, and therein starts the saga of how the woman finds love in her husband after his death. The repetitive symbol of a newly wedded woman’s hands, the deserted railway lines along with the Raja Narayan Deb’s music and Joy Goswami’s soul wrenching poetry make the film a complete whole. And, if you’re afraid that the subtitles couldn’t do much justice to the poems, then fear not—the subtitles, to a great extent, did complete justice to the Goswami’s poetry. The film had Bipasha Basu, Prasenjit Chatterjee, Sohag Sen and Jisshu Sengupta sharing the screen and won a lot of accolades worldwide.
2. Jukti Takko Ar Gappo
Directed by the maverick filmmaker, Ritwik Ghatak, Jukti Takko Gappo is often designated as the only film that he had made in his lifetime. The film resolves all the dilemmas and contradictions which arose throughout his career as a film director and as an IPTA member. The film doesn’t “portray” anything as such, but talks about the socio-political standing of Bengal, the issues of the Bengali middle class people and the complex ideas related to nation-state. It’s more like an autobiography of Ghatak and has Ritwik Ghatak himself in the lead role. If you’re interested in films or in the broader aspect of film studies, then you cannot miss out on this film.
Well, when it comes to films by Satyajit Ray, Pather Panchali, the Calcutta trilogy and Charulata seems to gain most of the footage. However, if you ask us regarding the film which you could watch with subtitles, then we’d ask you to go for Abhijan. With Waheeda Rahman and Soumitra Chatterjee in the lead roles, the film portrays the life of Narsingh, an uprooted taxi driver and how he, after innumerable hazards, elopes with Gulabi, a village widow who Narsingh’s master intended to keep as a prostitute. Besides, the juxtaposition of the symbols of the “Mama Bhagne” pahar and the old, worn out car stands apart in the whole film. Unlike other films in this listicle, this is a mainstream film and one of Ray’s super hits in Bengal. This film too, like other films of Ray, had won critical acclaims worldwide.
Further Reading: Top 10 Movies of Satyajit Ray