Bengali movies from the eyes of a Probashi
As I sat down to write this blog post, I started thinking about the first Bengali movie I remember watching-Charulata. That was my introduction to Bengali cinema. In hindsight, I should have started with a lighter movie because I barely understood what was being said.
Having been raised outside Bengal by parents who themselves were raised as probashi bangalees, my grasp on Bengali language is a bit weak. The Bengali we speak at home and in probashi Bangalee circles is an amusing mix of multiple languages and complex words are not part of this vocabulary. So naturally, Charulata was a disastrous beginning to my Bengali movie experience. But that did not put me off. The Bengali in me wanted to watch Bengali movies, sing Bengali pop songs, be able to understand who this actor was that my aunts would gush about, be able to talk about Satyajit Ray to curious non-bengalis, and just simply connect with my culture. So my next attempt was Kirron Kher's Bariwali.
I quickly realised why Bengali movies are placed on a pedestal higher than other movie industries. Having watched countless Hindi movies and some Telugu movies, my bar for movies was already low. So in comparison to these movies, Bengali movies were a breath of fresh air. Bengali movies have a realistic quality to them that easily engulfs your mind. I can be the lead actor or the supporting actor or even the tree in background... That's how immersive the experience is of watching Bengali movies. It's a lot more artistic and meaningful than any other kind of movie and I tend to walk away feeling good about it. It also stays in your mind. Even after the movie ends you wonder "What if..."
But latest Bengali movies are not easy to come by in Hyderabad. At least now there are theatre screenings of a few new Bengali movies which wasn't the case earlier. As a result, I have watched most of the Bengali movies online. In that context I think it's fantastic that there's something like Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival that's organised annually. I don't even care about the selection of movies. Just the experience of watching so many Bengali movies in a theatre alongside other probashi bangalees is an experience to cherish.
Sunayana Sen is a 3rd generation Bengali raised & living in Hyderabad. She's the kind of Bengali who does her best to speak in proper bangla but ends up saying things like "onek iktu" for "very little", and needs English subtitles to understand Bengali movies. Nevertheless, she plays an active role in Hyderabad Bangalee Samity and participates in all things Bengali. Other than that, she's a marketing consultant but will soon go off to pursue a Masters degree in Disaster Management.