|Cinema of West Bengal|
|No. of screens||Approx. 200 in the state of West Bengal|
|Main distributors|| SVF |
Dev Entertainment Ventures
|Produced feature films|
|Gross box office (2013)|
|National films||India: ₹100 crore (US$14 million)|
The Cinema of West Bengal, also known as Tollywood, refers to the Indian Bengali language film industry based in the Tollygunge region of Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The origins of the nickname Tollywood, a portmanteau of the words Tollygunge and Hollywood, dates back to 1932.It was a historically important film industry, at one time the centre of Indian film production. The Bengali film industry is known for producing many of Indian cinema's most critically acclaimed global Parallel Cinema and art films, with several of its filmmakers gaining prominence at the Indian National Film Awards as well as international acclaim.
Ever since Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali (1955) was awarded Best Human Document at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, Bengali films frequently appeared in international fora and film festivals for the next several decades.This allowed Bengali filmmakers to reach a global audience. The most influential among them was Satyajit Ray, whose films became successful among European, American and Asian audiences. His work subsequently had a worldwide impact, with filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, James Ivory, Abbas Kiarostami, Elia Kazan, François Truffaut, Carlos Saura, Isao Takahata, Wes Anderson and Danny Boyle being influenced by his cinematic style, and many others such as Akira Kurosawa praising his work.
The "youthful coming-of-age dramas that have flooded art houses since the mid-fifties owe a tremendous debt to the Apu trilogy".Kanchenjungha (1962) introduced a narrative structure that resembles later hyperlink cinema. Ray's 1967 script for a film to be called The Alien , which was eventually cancelled, is widely believed to have been the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's E.T. (1982). Ira Sachs' Forty Shades of Blue (2005) was a loose remake of Charulata , and in Gregory Navas My Family (1995), the final scene is duplicated from the final scene of The World of Apu . Similar references to Ray films are found in recent works such as Sacred Evil (2006), the Elements trilogy of Deepa Mehta, and in films of Jean-Luc Godard.
Another prominent Bengali filmmaker is Mrinal Sen, whose films have been well known for their Marxist views. During his career, Mrinal Sen's films have received awards from major film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Montreal, Chicago, and Cairo. Retrospectives of his films have been shown in major cities of the world.Another Bengali filmmaker, Ritwik Ghatak, began reaching a global audience long after his death; beginning in the 1990s, a project to restore Ghatak's films was undertaken, and international exhibitions (and subsequent DVD releases) have belatedly generated an increasingly global audience. Some of his films have strong similarities to later famous international films, such as Ajantrik (1958) resembling the Herbie films (1967–2005) and Bari Theke Paliye (1958) resembling François Truffaut's The 400 Blows (1959).
The cinematographer Subrata Mitra, who made his debut with Ray's The Apu Trilogy, also had an important influence on cinematography across the world. One of his most important techniques was bounce lighting, to recreate the effect of daylight on sets. He pioneered the technique while filming Aparajito (1956), the second part of The Apu Trilogy.Some of the experimental techniques which Satyajit Ray pioneered include photo-negative flashbacks and X-ray digressions while filming Pratidwandi (1972).
Tollywood was the very first Hollywood-inspired name, dating back to a 1932 article in the American Cinematographer by Wilford E. Deming, an American engineer who was involved in the production of the first Indian sound film. He gave the industry the name Tollywood because the Tollygunge district in which it was based rhymed with "Hollywood", and because Tollygunge was the center of the cinema of India as a whole at the time much like Hollywood was in the cinema of the United States.
In that same March 1932 article, Deming was also considering the name "Hollygunge" but decided to go with "Tollywood" as the nickname for the Tollygunge area due to "Tolly being a proper name and Gunge meaning locality" in the Bengali language. It was this "chance juxtaposition of two pairs of rhyming syllables," Holly and Tolly, that led to the name "Tollywood" being coined.
The history of cinema in Bengal dates to the 1920s, when the first "bioscopes" were shown in theatres in Calcutta. Within a decade, the first seeds of the industry were sown by Hiralal Sen, considered a stalwart of Victorian era cinemawhen he set up the Royal Bioscope Company, producing scenes from the stage productions of a number of popular shows at the Star Theatre, Minerva Theatre, Classic Theatre. Following a long gap after Sen's works, Dhirendra Nath Ganguly (known as D.G.) established the Indo British Film Co, the first Bengali-owned production company, in 1918. However, the first Bengali feature film, Billwamangal , was produced in 1919, under the banner of Madan Theatre. Bilat Ferat was the IBFC's first production in 1921. The Madan Theatre production of Jamai Shashthi was the first Bengali talkie. A long history has been traversed since then, with stalwarts such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak and others earning international acclaim and securing their place in the movie history.
Hiralal Sen, India is credited as one of Bengal's, and India's first directors. These were all silent films. Hiralal Sen is also credited as one of the pioneers of advertisement films in India. The first Bengali-language movie was the silent feature Billwamangal , produced by the Madan Theatre Company of Calcutta and released on 8 November 1919, only six years after the first full-length Indian feature film, Raja Harish Chandra , was released.
The early beginnings of the "talking film" industry go back to the early 1930s, when it came to British India, and to Calcutta. The movies were originally made in Urdu or Persian to accommodate a specific elite market. One of the earliest known studios was the East India Film Company. The first Bengali film to be made as a talkie was Jamai Shashthi , released in 1931. At this time the early heroes of the Bengali film industry like Pramathesh Barua and Debaki Bose were at the peak of their popularity. Barua also directed movies, exploring new dimension in Indian cinema. Debaki Bose directed Chandidas in 1932; this film is noted for its breakthrough in recording sound. Sound recordist Mukul Bose found a solution to the problem of spacing out dialogue and frequency modulation.
The contribution of Bengali film industry to Indian film is quite significant. First Bengali talkies Jamai Shashthi (as short film) was released 11 April 1931 at Crown Cinema Hall in Calcutta and first Bengali talkies as full-length feature film Dena Paona was released 30 December 1931 at Chitra Cinema Hall in Calcutta. The industry was based in Tollygunge, an area of South Kolkata, West Bengal that is more elite and artistically inclined than the usual musical cinema fare in India.
During this period, Bengali cinema enjoyed a large, even disproportionate, representation in Indian cinema. They produced directors like Satyajit Ray, who was an Academy Honorary Award winner, and the recipient of India's and France's greatest civilian honours, the Bharat Ratna and Legion of Honor respectively, and Mrinal Sen, who is the recipient of the French distinction of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and the Russian Order of Friendship.
Other prominent film makers in the Bengali film industry at the time included Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, Tapan Sinha,Ajoy Kar, Saroj Dey .The Bengali film industry has produced classics such as Nagarik (1952), The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959), Jalsaghar (1958), Ajantrik (1958), Neel Akasher Neechey (1959), Devdas , Devi (1960), Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), the Calcutta trilogies (1971–1976), etc. In particular, The Apu Trilogy is frequently listed among the greatest films of all time.
The most well known Bengali actor to date has been Uttam Kumar while Suchitra Sen is regarded as the most beautiful and influential actress of Bengali cinema. Kumar and Sen were known as "The Eternal Pair" in the late 1950s. Apart from Sen, Sabitri Chatterjee and Sumitra Devi were very popular actress of the 1950s. Soumitra Chatterjee is a notable actor, having acted in several Satyajit Ray films, and considered as a rival to Uttam Kumar in the 1960s. He is famous for the characterisation of Feluda in Sonar Kella (1974) and Joi Baba Felunath (1978), written and directed by Ray. He also played the adult version of Apu in The World of Apu (1959), directed by Ray.
In the 1960s, Bengal saw a host of talented actresses like Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore, Madhabi Mukherjee, Sandhya Roy and Supriya Devi. Aparna Sen was one of the most successful actresses of the Golden Era. She became the leading heroine of the 1970s and since 1981 she has been directing films. One of the most well known Bengali actresses was Sharmila Tagore, who debuted in Ray's The World of Apu, and became a major actress in Bengali cinema as well as Bollywood. Despite Suchitra Sen being the greatest actress, Sharmila was the most commercial successful actress in history with films like The World of Apu (1959), Devi (1960), Nayak (1966), Simabaddha (1967) and Aranyer Dinratri (1970).
Utpal Dutt is internationally known for his acting in movies and plays, especially Shakespearean plays. Bhanu Bandopadhyay, Rabi Ghosh and Anup Kumar were best known for their comic timing and with their versatile acting talent they stunned the audience and critics.
The pioneers in Bengali film music include Raichand Boral, Pankaj Mullick and K. C. Dey, all associated with New Theatres Calcutta. The greatest composers of the golden era included Robin Chatterjee, Sudhin Dasgupta, Nachiketa Ghosh, Hemant Kumar etc.
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The revival in Bengali cinema dates from the rise of directors such as Rituparno Ghosh, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay, Buddhadeb Dasgupta , Aparna Sen, Tarun Majumdar ,Gautam Ghose,Koushik Ganguly , Anik Dutta,Prabhat Roy ,Suman Ghosh (director) and Atanu Ghosh. Rituparno Ghosh made his first film Hirer Angti in 1992 and dominated Bengali cinema until his death in 2013, winning numerous national awards for films like Unishe April , Dahan and Utsab . Aparna Sen made her directorial debut in 1981 with the internationally lauded 36 Chowringhee Lane , which looked at the lives of Anglo-Indians living in Calcutta. Her later films have also been celebrated: Paromitar Ek Din , Mr and Mrs Iyer , 15 Park Avenue , The Japanese Wife , Goynar Baksho , etc. Buddhadeb Dasgupta is best known for award-winning films like Uttara (film) , Mondo Meyer Upakhyan , Charachar .
Gautam Ghose is best known for award-winning films like Padma Nadir Majhi , Abar Aranye and Moner Manush, Antarjali Jatra .
In recent years, a younger generation of Bengali directors have come to the fore. Many work in the domestic film industry, but others have gone on to Bollywood where they have met with notable success. In turn, they have also turned the cinematic spotlight on Kolkata, acquainting the city with a much wider national and global audience ( Kahaani , Piku , Detective Byomkesh Bakshy ). Successful Bengali films are getting their Hindi remakes in Bollywood, Marathi Remakes in Marathi Films, Malayalam Remakes In Malayalam Films ( Hemlock Society (film) , Ramdhanu , Bhooter Bhabishyat , Praktan , Rajkahini ).Some of the films by the directors from this era that have gained success in recent years are Haami,Cockpit (2017 film), Shedin Dekha Hoyechilo,Chander Pahar , Parineeta (2019 film), Gumnaami.
Bengali directors who have found artistic and commercial success in contemporary Hindi films are: Srijit Mukherji, Anurag Basu, Ayan Mukerji, Dibakar Banerjee, Pradeep Sarkar, Shoojit Sircar and Sujoy Ghosh.
Bengali superstars are Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jishu Sengupta, Dev, Jeet, Ankush Hazra, Anirban Bhattacharya.
Big Productions are SVF, Windows Productions, Jeetz Filmworks, Dev Entertainment, Bengal Talkies, Surinder Films, Friends Communications, SSG Entertainment , PSS Entertainment, Opera Movies.
100-160 Bengali movies are released every year and are produced with a budget of Rs. 50,00,000 to Rs. 55 million per movie on average. Home Entertainment, Shree Venkatesh Films released some high budgeted movies like Amazon Obhijaan with budget of 20 crore and was also successful in Box office by earning about 50 crore in Box office making it highest earning movie in history of Bengali movie ever, apart from Amazon Obhijaan other costly movies were Chander Pahar made in the budget of Rs 15 crore and Yoddha: The Warrior with Rs 15 crore were some costly movies.
Many of the most critically acclaimed Bengali films were low-budget films, including Satyajit Ray's famous The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959). The first film in the trilogy, Pather Panchali (1955), was produced on a shoestring budget million ($230,000).of Rs. 150,000 ($32000) using an amateur cast and crew. All his other films that followed also had low budgets, with his most expensive films since the 60's being The Adventures of Goopy And Bagha (1968) at Rs. 600,000 ($80,000) and Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977) at Rs. 6
The Bengali film industry, which had been a beacon for the country's film industry until the 1980s, is in a turnaround mode. At a time when Bollywood continues its roller-coaster ride, there are cheers in the Bengali film industry with several commercial successes. The dark period of the 1990s when Bengali tinsel town was on a steep decline seems like a nightmare that's best forgotten. And, with the money pouring in, producers from other States are now knocking on the doors of Bengali directors. Industry sources say that the best proof of the comeback is seen in the increasing number of cinema houses showing Bengali films. Even a few years ago, of the 800 cinemas in the State, no more than 350 were showing just Bengali films. The remaining had spread their risk showing a mix of either Hindi and English or Hindi and Bengali films. In 2008, nearly 700 theatres were showing Bengali films.
Bombaiyer Bombete , produced by Ramoji Films at a cost of Rs 8 million, recovered its costs within three weeks and earned 20 million in all . The movie has brought back the concept of family entertainment with Sandip Ray's gambit of contemporising the plot paying him rich dividend. Admitting that he did not expect this success, he told Life that he was now lining up another such film for release next year. Earlier, a film by award-winning director Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Mondo Meyer Upakhyan (The Tale of a Fallen Girl) produced by Arjoe Entertainments netted nearly Rs 7 million through sale of overseas rights against a cost of Rs 0.6 million. Haranath Chakraborty His film Sathi (Companion) created a record by recouping over five times its production cost, although the film Chokher Bali, with big names like Aishwariya Rai, Rituparno Ghosh and Tagore, failed to yield expected results. The movie, billed at Rs 16.5 million (the highest among Bengali films). Total number of cinema theatre is approx 400.But there are films like 'Kaler rakhal'(2008)by Sekhar Das which created huge controversy for its strong political comments on contemporary Bengal, despite its formal brilliance too, was not successful in the box office as the film was unceremoniously withdrawn from the theatres.
Loose and unorganised production activities, dominated and dictated by providers of capital led to proliferation of sub-standard films, which were most often commercial failures. The recent successes have come through some concerted effort by Parallel Cinema which has tapped the domestic market, even while scouting the overseas ones, hitting the festival circuit somewhere in between. As such, celluloid creations of award-winning directors like Gautam Ghosh, Rituparno Ghosh and Aparna Sen started bringing money for their producers. However, at around the same time, movies in the commercial circuit (directors like to call them mainstream cinema) also started doing well, supported strongly by the response from the semi-urban areas. The big Bollywood banners such as Mukta Arts and Rajshri films are now showing interest in funding Bengali films.
Hollywood houses like Columbia TriStar have made their debut in distributing Bengali movies. According to industry experts, several issues need to be addressed to build on this resurgence and consolidate it. These include inadequate infrastructure, which often compels moviemakers to go outside the State for facilities pushing up costs, poor marketing and distribution and increasing competition from Bangladeshi films.
A number of Satyajit Ray films appeared in the Sight & Sound Critics' Poll of all-time greatest films, including The Apu Trilogy (ranked No. 4 in 1992 if votes are combined),The Music Room (ranked No. 27 in 1992), Charulata (ranked No. 41 in 1992) and Days and Nights in the Forest (ranked No. 81 in 1982). The 2002 Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll also included the Ritwik Ghatak films Meghe Dhaka Tara (ranked #231) and Komal Gandhar (ranked #346).
In 1998, the critics' poll conducted by the Asian film magazine Cinemaya included The Apu Trilogy (ranked No. 1 if votes are combined), Ray's Charulata and The Music Room (both tied at #11), and Ghatak's Subarnarekha (also tied at #11).In 1999, The Village Voice top 250 "Best Film of the Century" critics' poll also included The Apu Trilogy (ranked No. 5 if votes are combined). In 2005, The Apu Trilogy was also included in Time magazine's "All-TIME" 100 best movies list. In 1992, the Sight & Sound Critics' Poll ranked Ray at No. 7 in its list of "Top 10 Directors" of all time, and Days and Nights in the Forest (ranked No. 81 in 1982).
The National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali is one of the National Film Awards presented annually by the Directorate of Film Festivals, the organisation set up by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, India. It is one of several awards presented for feature films and awarded with Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus).
The National Film Awards, established in 1954, are the most prominent film awards in India that merit the best of the Indian cinema. The ceremony also presents awards for films in various regional languages.
The cinema of India consists of films produced in the nation of India. Cinema is immensely popular in India. Every year more than 1800 films get produced collectively in various languages in India. Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Kochi, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar-Cuttack and Guwahati are the major centres of film production in India. As of 2013, India ranked first in terms of annual film output, followed by Nigeria, Hollywood and China. In 2012, India produced 1,602 feature films. The Indian film industry reached overall revenues of $1.86 billion in 2011. In 2015, India had a total box office gross of US$2.1 billion, the third largest in the world. In 2011, Indian cinema sold over 3.5 billion tickets worldwide, 900,000 more than Hollywood.
The Apu Trilogy comprises three Indian Bengali language epic drama films directed by Satyajit Ray: Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956) and The World of Apu (1959). The original music for the films was composed by Ravi Shankar.
Pather Panchali is a 1955 Indian Bengali epic drama film written and directed by Satyajit Ray and produced by the Government of West Bengal. It is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's 1929 Bengali novel of the same name and is Ray's directorial debut. It features Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Uma Dasgupta and Chunibala Devi. The first film in The Apu Trilogy, Pather Panchali depicts the childhood of the protagonist Apu and his elder sister Durga and the harsh village life of their poor family.
Aparajito is a 1956 Indian Bengali-language epic drama film written and directed by Satyajit Ray (1921–1992), and is the second part of The Apu Trilogy. It is adapted from the first half of Bibhutibhushan Bannerjee's novel Aparajito. It starts off where the previous film Pather Panchali (1955) ended, with Apu's family moving to Varanasi, and chronicles Apu's life from childhood to adolescence in college.
Ritwik Kumar Ghatak was a noted Indian film director, screenwriter, and playwright. Along with prominent contemporary Bengali filmmakers Satyajit Ray, Tapan Sinha and Mrinal Sen, his cinema is primarily remembered for its meticulous depiction of social reality, partition and feminism. He won the National Film Award's Rajat Kamal Award for Best Story in 1974 for his Jukti Takko Aar Gappo and Best Director's Award from Bangladesh Cine Journalist's Association for Titash Ekti Nadir Naam. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri for Arts in 1970.
Meghe Dhaka Tara is a 1960 film written and directed by Ritwik Ghatak, based on a social novel by Shaktipada Rajguru with the same title. It stars Supriya Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee, Gita Dey, Bijon Bhattacharya, Niranjan Roy, and Gyanesh Mukherjee. It was part of a trilogy consisting of Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), Komal Gandhar (1961), and Subarnarekha (1962), all dealing with the aftermath of the Partition of Bengal during the Partition of India in 1947 and the refugees coping with it.
Apur Sansar, also known as The World of Apu, is a 1959 Indian Bengali-language epic drama film written and directed by Satyajit Ray. It is the third part of The Apu Trilogy, about the childhood and early adulthood of a young Bengali named Apu in the early twentieth century Indian subcontinent. The film is based on the last half of the Bengali novel, Aparajito, by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay.
Distant Thunder is a 1973 Bengali film by the Indian director Satyajit Ray, based on the novel by the same name by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. Unlike most of Ray's earlier films, Distant Thunder was filmed in colour. It stars Soumitra Chatterjee, who headlined numerous Ray films, and the Bangladeshi actress Bobita in her only prominent international role. Today the film features in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. It marked the debut of the theatre star Mrityunjay Sil.
Soumitra Chatterjee was an Indian film actor, director, playwright, writer, singer and poet. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian bengali cinema. He is best known for his collaborations with director Satyajit Ray, with whom he worked in fourteen films.
Madhabi Chakraborty , née Mukherjee, is an Indian actress. She won the National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the Bengali film Dibratrir Kabya. She has acted in some of the most critically acclaimed films in Bengali cinema and is considered one of the great actresses of Bengali cinema.
South Asian cinema refers to the cinema of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The terms Asian cinema, Eastern cinema and Oriental cinema in common usage often encompass South Asia as well as East Asia and South East Asia.
Karuna Banerjee was a Bengali actress best known for her role in Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959) as the long suffering mother, Sarbajaya. She was nominated for Best Actress at the 1959 BAFTA Awards for her performance in Aparajito (1956), the second part of The Apu Trilogy. She appeared in a number of other films after that, including Ray's Devi (1960) and Kanchenjungha (1962).
Parallel cinema, or New Indian Cinema, was a film movement in Indian cinema that originated in the state of West Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to the mainstream commercial Indian cinema.
Nagarik, also spelled as Nagorik, The Citizen in English, was the first feature-length film directed by legendary Indian director Ritwik Ghatak. Completed in 1952, it preceded Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali as perhaps the first example of an art film in Bengali cinema, but is deprived of that honor, since it was released twenty-four years later, after Ghatak's death. On 20 September 1977, it finally premiered at the New Empire theatre in Kolkata, India. Ritwik Ghatak directed only eight feature films, but is generally regarded as one of the auteurs of Indian cinema and virtually unsurpassed as a creator of powerful imagery and epic style by directors such as Satyajit Ray and of transcendental power and extraordinariness by critics such as Derek Malcolm.
Satyajit Ray was an Indian film director, scriptwriter, documentary filmmaker, author, essayist, lyricist, magazine editor, illustrator, calligrapher, and music composer. He is celebrated for works such as The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959), The Music Room (1958), The Big City (1963) and Charulata (1964). Ray was born in Calcutta to renowned writer Sukumar Ray who was prominent in the field of arts and literature. Starting his career as a commercial artist, he was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica's Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London.
Anup Kumar was an Indian actor who is known for his work in Bengali cinema.
Gita Dey was an Indian actress in Bengali cinema, theatre and Bengali folk theater. She became a stage artist at the age of 6 years. She came to the film industry in 1943. Her first film release was Ahuti (1941) as a child actress. She acted in over two hundred Bengali language films and over two thousand stage shows. She acted in the movie Teen Kanya under the direction of Satyajit Ray and Rittik Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara, Subarnarekha, Komal Gandhar, Kato Ajanare. She also acted in Hindi movies such as Parineeta (2005) with Vidya Balan and Sanjay Dutt and other movies. She was associated with All India Radio for a long time doing Shruti Natok. She received the Presidential Award for Lifetime Achievement from Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and many other awards during her lifetime.
Jogamaya Devi College is one of the oldest and leading women's college in Kolkata, India. It shares the same building with Asutosh College and Syamaprasad College and is named after the wife of Sir Asutosh Mukherjee. It is a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accredited Grade "B" college. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and is affiliated to the University of Calcutta. It was established in 1932.
Aurora Film Corporation is a film production company based in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, and primarily involved in producing Bengali films. Aurora has produced and distributed several landmark Bengali-language films including Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali.