Bengali cinema has not come out with exactly shining colours at the 59th National Film Awards announced in Delhi recently. But the darkish cloud has a silver lining because Ranjana Ami Ar Asbo Na produced by Rana Sarkar and directed by Anjan Dutt has bagged three prestigious awards – for Best Bengali Feature Film, for Best Music Direction (Songs) and a Special Jury Award for Anjan Dutt bestowed mainly for the versatile person he is, all of these finding expression through and in Ranjana Ami Ar Asbo Na. Neel Dutt who began his career in singing by accompanying his father Anjan Dutt on stage as a little boy, is one of the pioneers among youngsters in the world of Bengali music.
The Feature Film Jury was headed by actress Rohini Hattangady while filmmaker Romesh Sharma topped the Jury in the Non-fiction and Short Film Category. Octogenarian film scholar, documentary filmmakers and activist Vijaya Mulay headed the Award for the Best Writing on Cinema this year.
The biggest surprise package in this year’s list of awards is actress Roopa Ganguly bagging the Best Playback Singer (Female) Award for her songs in Aditi Roy’s directorial debut film Abosheshey in which Roopa plays the protagonist. The film was featured in the Indian Panorama section of the GOA IFFI last year. Abosheshey won the prestigious Netpac Jury Award at the International Film Festival, Kerala last year. No one is more surprised than Roopa herself who is an occasional singer and lent her voice to this film on the insistence of music director Prabuddha Banerjee. It was also selected for the main competition at the Talinn Black Nights Film Festival (Estonia). Abosheshey is likely to release in April this year.
Mayookh Bhowmik sprung a surprise by bagging the award for the Best Background score for Kaushik Ganguly’s Laptop which is yet to get a public release. Bhowmik says the citation, won the award “for his original style in narrating the flow of events centered on a laptop. His music brings in a new dimension with his unconventional musical renderings, using both live and electronic instruments to counterpoint the urban tragedies that accompany this peripatetic laptop.
Indranil Ghosh won the award for the Best Production Design for his work in Rituparno Ghosh’s Nouka Dubi based on a Tagore classic and produced by Subhash Ghai. This is Ghosh’s second National Award the first having been for his creative recreation of an old Bengal in Rituparno’s Chokher Bali. His command in recreating a given period without making it lavish or ornamental must be seen to be believed. Ghosh Ghosh exploits the period - the stained glass windows in Anadi Babu’s spacious home; the humble interiors of Ramesh’s rented Kolutola flat, the staircase and interiors of Nalinaksha’s home in Kashi, the modest ‘home’ of Ramesh and Kamala at Gorakhpur with a framed large-size portrait of Ramkrishna Paramahamsa with a little courtyard in front, even the compound of the missionary boarding where the residents stand in prayer. His work is masterly.
Bom (Hindi and English) produced by Anirban Dutta and directed by Amlan Dutta, both brothers having graduated form film school bagged the award for the Best Anthropological/Ethnographical Film “for exploring in a quiet but assertive style the changing world of life in a remote village of Himachal Pradesh as the village` interact with democracy and modern civilization.” Spandan Banerjee’s You Don’t Belong (Bengali and English) won special mention jointly with Renu Sawant’s Airawat (Marathi and Hindi).
One strange feature of the National Awards this year is the length of the citations – they are much longer than they normally are and run often into a long paragraph. For example, for the Best Feature Film (Bengali) Award, the citation says, “Ranjana Ami Ar Asbo Na presents pop music as a force that drives, destroys and binds relationships. The film’s character’s carry forward this one passion in life as in death. Through the film’s visual texture and locales, we not only see the world of the protagonist Abani Sen, we also enter his psyche. Anjan Dutt’s bitter–sweet work portrays in vivid colours the pop music scene in Bengal today, as well as the on-the-edge lives lived by its practitioners.” Wow!