If there is one thing that has remained constant for 72 years, it has been the grace, beauty and charm of Aparna Sen. Although she was one of the prettiest actors of her times, her movies were never all about her appearance. Her characters were progressive, determined and these were the factors which made her outstanding. At a time when mostly women characters were objectified in cinemas, the ones in Sen’s films were going to offices, earning for their own living and even if they were damsel in distress, they fought their way.
During her earlier days in the film industry, she had been popular for all her collaborations with Satyajit Ray. Along with her charm and integrity, there was always something intelligent about Aparna Sen which reflected in the later years when she started directing films. As an actor and as a director, ‘Miss Calcutta of 1976’ had charmed a small intelligentsia.
The actor has been popular for many of her roles, but there is one reason why this author fondly calls her the ‘Miss Calcutta of 1976’. In the popular song, “Ami Miss Calcutta” from the film ‘Basanta Bilap’, she shared the screen space with another veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee (another popular actor hailing from Bengal who is well known for his collaborations with Satyajit Ray), she had strongly declared that it’s hard to determine her statistics, and she is not ready to give tips about how to be like her.
Take a look at the song and it’s translation.
Ami Miss Calcutta, chai na ditey tips, ( I am Miss Calcutta, I don’t wanna any give tips)
Ekhono toh keo jane na amar statistics ( Till now no one has been able to figure out my statistics)
Ami Miss Calcutta 1976 ( I am Miss Calcutta, 1976)
As the actor turns 72 today. Here are some of her films that you must watch if you have a knack for content driven cinema.
Aparna Sen made her debut as an actor in Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Teen Kanya’. The film is a collection of three short stories about three girls of different age groups in different circumstances. The film is based on the works of Rabindranath Tagore.
Like we mentioned, Aparna Sen’s ‘Basanti Bilap’ till date remains one of the most hilarious films in the history of Bengali cinema. The central plot of the story was about men living in a boy’s hostel and women living in the girls hostel constantly hatching plots to defeat one another. One circumstance leads to another and they all end up falling in love with each other.
‘Goynar Baksho’ had coincidentally released at a time when ghosts had been one of the popular themes in the Bengali cinema. The film was directed by Aparna Sen and helmed by her daughter Konkona Sen Sharma. A woman who hails from one of the humble families of Bengal gets married to a family of zamindars. A few days after her marriage the eldest lady in the family dies. The ghost keeps coming back only to Somlata (Konkona) and orders her to take care of the family heirlooms by hiding it from her sister-in-law. The ghost had represented the inner desires of a reserved woman living in a conservative family.
After a first watch, ‘Iti Mrinalini’ seems like a film that’s telling the journey of Aparna Sen’s life as an actor. Or maybe it was a bit fictionalised. It tells the tale of a woman who suffers from depression. While writing a few notes, which she believes to be her last letters she recalls all the romantic relationships she had had in her life.
Like mentioned earlier, the women in Aparna Sen’s films had always been strikingly important. ‘Antaheen’ remained outstanding for the performance of Radhika Apte and Aparna Sen. The characters had dominated the film, not with hard hitting dialogues but with their regular determined and progressive lifestyle. The film had been directed by Anniruddh Roy Chowdhury who is popular for his 2016 film, PINK.
The Japanese Wife
Some movies are spicy. ‘The Japanese Wife’ which was directed by Aparna Sen captured the soft rhythm of life. It takes us back to the time when Facebook did not exist and ISD calls were too expensive. It tells the tale of a long distance relationship between a Bengali school teacher and a Japanese woman.
Here’s wishing Aparna Sen, a happy birthday!