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Friday, August 06, 2021

The Master at His Best

Though Bimal Roy adapted this Tagore classic in Hindi with Balraj Sahni in the lead,for most Bengalis the Tapan Sinha 1957 version is the last word in adaptation of Kabuliwala...

January 16, 2009 3:02:22 am

A selection of some of Tapan Sinha’s best works

Though Bimal Roy adapted this Tagore classic in Hindi with Balraj Sahni in the lead,for most Bengalis the Tapan Sinha 1957 version is the last word in adaptation of Kabuliwala. Chabi Biswas shone as the titular character,while the music of the film still rules our hearts.

Jhinder Bandi
A swashbuckling adaptation of Anthony Hope’s classic novel,The Prisoner of Zenda,this 1961 film boasted of an ensemble cast comprising,Uttam Kumar,Arundhati Debi,Soumitra Chatterjee and Sandhya Roy. Fresh from the success of Apur Sansar,Soumitra Chatterjee received an image makeover in this film.

Long before Gulzar’s Ijaazat,Ghosh explored the complexities of married life in this poetic adaptation of Subodh Ghosh’s novel. Uttam Kumar and Arundhati Debi starred as an estranged couple who meet after a long time in a railway station,only to part ways again. Their story is narrated through a series of flashbacks.

Nirjan Saikate
Not many know about this gem,but Nirjan Saikate stands for everything that made Tapan Sinha one of the most important filmmakers of our times. A sensitive story about a group of four Bengali widows and their interactions with a young man who accompanies them in a trip,the films explores human psychology through the man’s reaction with these women. The film is also a subtle comment on society’s attitude towards widows. A young Sharmila Tagore starred in the film which fetched her a National Award.

Galpo Holeo Satyi
Sinha tried his hand in a satire in this 1966 comedy,and boy did he succeed. A film about a dysfunctional family where a domestic help brings happiness through simple acts of kindness,was later remade by Hrishikesh Mukherjee as Bawarchi. Robi Ghosh more than tickled the funny bones with his brilliant performance as a manservant,he brought rare dignity to the character. Rajesh Khanna,in the remake was good but couldn’t match up to Ghosh’s towering performance.

Haatey Bazaare
The film that brought the reigning queen of Bollywood,Vyjanthimala,to Tollywood,this 1967 film was an adaptation of a Banaphool classic by the same name. But Haatey Bazaare,is much more than that. It is a poignant social film about an individual’s (Ashok Kumar) struggle to make things better in a village in Bengal-Bihar border.

A predecessor to Satya,and the many gang war films to follow,this 1968 film saw Sinha in the raw mode. About two rival goons who seek comfort in their relationship with an old lady,played by Chaya Debi,this film was later remade by Gulzar into the searing Meena Kumari film,Mere Apne.

Safed Haathi
The first of Sinha’s many children’s films,Safed Haathi was a simple story about the adventures of Sibu an orphan boy,and a white elephant he befriends in the forest. Sinha keeps the narrative simple and scores with his almost fablesque approach to a simple story.

Ek Doctor Ki Maut
Probably one of Sinha’s best known works,this film recognises Pankar Kapur’s talent as a performer and has him in a role of a lifetime. As a misunderstood doctor who is forced to surrender to the corrupt system,Kapur brings a kind of fragility to the character that makes it all the more believable. Shabana Azmi shines as his supportive wife.

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