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The Forgotten, Our Very ‘Own’

December 2, 2014 | By

Tapan Sinha had been an epitome of cinematic excellence – artistic and entertaining and that is why he could reach to his audience with élan which at times even the towering Satyajit Ray could not. Sinha’s films have almost always made brisk business as compared to the trinity of Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen.

Tapan Sinha in a thoughtful mood

Tapan Sinha in a thoughtful mood
Pic: COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

Sensorium in association with Weavers Studio Centre for the Arts organized a 3-day-long poster-cum-photograph exhibition on eminent Bengali film-maker Tapan Sinha recently from Nov 21st till 23rd in Kolkata.

Titled ‘Aaponjon’ the exhibition celebrated the 90th birth anniversary of the legendary film-maker.  The name ‘Aaponjon’ was inspired by Sinha’s intriguing 1968 film with the same name. Interestingly the film was made in the turbulent backdrop of the late ‘60s where a widow finds out how her relatives exploit and betray her and eventually she finds her ‘own’ in a group of social outlaws. This is of immense misfortune that 5 years since his demise, Tapan Sinha has been largely forgotten by the people of his ‘own’ city – the section of educated, middle-class Bengali for whom he made films and because of whom he never thought of leaving the city in want of monetary gains elsewhere. Sounak Chacraverti of Sensorium gets special credit due to this – he brought back memories of a master whom we have all chose to forget. A point to note that the first exhibition on Sinha was done by Sounak himself way back in 2008 at the ICCR, Kolkata and followed it up with one in Pune FTII. The recent one is a cut down version of their seniors but with welcome additions of a few new photographs as well.

Tapan Sinha had been an epitome of cinematic excellence – artistic and entertaining and that is why he could reach to his audience with élan which at times even the towering Satyajit Ray could not. Sinha’s films have almost always made brisk business as compared to the trinity of Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. In parallel quite a few of Sinha’s films have been acclaimed, discussed and awarded in National and International film festivals of repute – Sinha won 19 national film awards in various categories apart from being conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2006.

Adalat O Ekti Meye

Adalat O Ekti Meye
Pic: COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

However with the prevalence of film criticism as a practice in the country, Sinha probably was out of favour with the critics in comparison with either a Ray or a Ghatak or even Sen. From cinematic yardsticks he may be short of these masters without much doubt but his simplistic story telling yet conveying deeper conscience through his narrative has always gone on well with the educated film audience. This aspect of his versatility was acknowledged by Goutam Ghose, film-maker who inaugurated the exhibition on Nov 21st. Ghose continued that probably no other director has taken up subjects so varied and so unrelated. The inauguration was marked by reminiscences of actors, producers of Sinha’s films and a small note of appreciation from Amitabh Bachcan which read – “Tapan Sinha is a true lover of art, truth and beauty, the finesse and depth of which have been successfully portrayed in his work. He is a ‘maestro’ in the world of ‘cinema’ ”.

Aadmi Aur Aurat

Aadmi Aur Aurat
Pic: COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

The photographs exhibited were clicked by Sukumar Roy, a long-time associate of Sinha who followed the director and captured him in different moods and poses. The photographs mostly find Sinha in his work either alone or with his actors. They however don’t hold Sinha in extreme candid situations like Nemai Ghosh’s lens used to find Satyajit Ray. It may also prove that Sinha was even more a reserved person than Ray whose towering stoic exterior is otherwise a shield to get to the master’s inner self. The posters exhibited the evolution of the same – since the 1950s and till at least Atanka (1986) almost all the posters were hand drawn by artists, the same of Wheel Chair (1994) used digital printing.

To make the exhibition meaningful and alluring Sounak spread it out with care. On 22nd Nov in the exhibition venue there was a musical program with songs used in Tapan Sinha’s films which were written and composed by Sinha himself. Sung by Uma Bose, Jhinuk Gupta and Arjun Riju Roy they could provide a glimpse of the talent Sinha had even as a lyricist and music composer – his deep roots in Bengali culture and his immense understanding of Tagore’s songs being exemplified in these creations. The following day there was screening of the documentary Padatik – The Strider by Eastern India Cinematographers’ Association which showcased the multi-faceted genius of Tapan Sinha.

In the inaugural ceremony Tapan Sinha’s son Anindya Sinha very poignantly mentioned that the task of preserving a father’s achievements, laurels and repertoire is a son’s job essentially which he didn’t do but Sounak did. Not only Anindya Sinha but the entire film fraternity and film lovers of Tapan Sinha’s films are indebted to Sounak for curating this priceless exhibition.

 More to read

An interview with Tapan Sinha published in 4 parts
Never Have I Made the Same Kind of Film: An Interview With Tapan Sinha (Part-I)
I’d Never Allow My Mind To Gather The Moss Of Stagnation: An Interview With Tapan Sinha (Part-II)
I Cherish A Thrill For Adventure: An Interview With Tapan Sinha (Part-III)
I Am A Worshipper Of All Things Beautiful: An Interview With Tapan Sinha (Part-IV)

Related stories
Saluting Indomitable Human Spirit: A Tribute to Tapan Sinha
A Manzil of Memories: Rare Memorabilia Of Basu Chatterji’s Films

 

 

Amitava Nag is an independent film critic based in Kolkata and editor of Silhouette. His most recent book on cinema is Satyajit Ray’s Heroes and Heroines published by Rupa. He has also authored the acclaimed Beyond Apu: 20 Favourite film roles of Soumitra Chatterjee published by Harper Collins India. He also writes poetry and short fiction in Bengali and English – observing life in a platter.
All Posts of Amitava Nag

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