Srijit Mukherji remains one of the finest writer-directors to have graced Bengali Cinema. People who have some idea about Bengali industry know that Bengali movies are largely divided into 2 extremes – the relatively offbeat content-driven films typically focusing on the festivals and the commercial potboilers which attract the masses. But over the past 10 odd years there is a resurgence of a blend of these two types. Filmmakers are brave enough to explore different subjects and trying to attract a more educated urbane audience. With this process, many of these films earn critical acclaim and some of them enjoy commercial success as well. Most of Srijit’s works have managed to earn accolades. Here is a list of some of his finest works in Bengali cinema over the past few years.
The ensemble cast of ‘Autograph’ includes Prosenjit Chatterjee along with Nandana Sen and Indranil Sengupta in lead roles. This melodrama was Sriijit Mukherji’s directorial debut and he made heads turn with his first film. Many believe it was a tribute to Satyajit Ray’s 1966 masterpiece ‘Nayak (actor)’ which had the iconic Bengali superstar Uttam Kumar. Prosenjit Chatterjee was awarded with the 2010 MIAAC Best Actor honour for his outstanding acting in this film. ‘Autograph’ also paved the way for a great association between the filmmaker and the veteran actor. The timing couldn’t have been better as Prosenjit was then in between a transition of shifting his focus from commercial potboilers to more artistic films with author-backed roles gradually.
Baishe Srabon (2011)
Following the success of his first film Autograph, Srijit’s ‘Baishe Srabon’ encapsulates a heady cocktail of thriller, violence, music along with Bengali poetry. Probir Roychudhury’s bitterness and angst couldn’t have been essayed out better than Prosenjit, whose character seemed to be a far cry from the one in ‘Autograph’s mighty yet vulnerable superstar. Prosenjit stunned everyone with his performance as an ex-cop in this psychological thriller directed by Sriji Mukherji. According to the narrative, Prabir, suspended from his duty, works with the chief investigating officer (Parambrata) to nab a serial killer committing murder and leaving couplets from popular Bengali poems as a clue. Prosenjit’s remarkable acting was highly acknowledged by both the critics and audience. ‘Baishe Srabon’ eventually became one of the highest-grossing films of 2011.
‘Jaatishwar’ tells the story of Hensman Anthony (Prosenjit Chatterjee) who was best known as Anthony Firingee in 19th Century Bengal. He settled down in Farashdanga, near the old Portuguese town of Chandannagar. Being a musician with a great admiration for languages, Anthony went on to compose folk songs in Bengali. Anthony also married a Hindu widow named Soudamini and soon became popular in the ‘kavigan’ arena, a tradition of poetic duels. 2 different time zones run parallel in the film, the 19th century and Hensman Anthony’s life and the present times that we live in. The film moves across the two time periods in a non-linear fashion. In parallel to the story of Hensman Anthony, there is another story of Rohit Mehta (Jishu Sengupta), a research scholar in Portuguese studies and Mahamaya Bandhopadhyay (Swastika Mukherjee).
Vinci Da (2019)
The story of Vinci Da is about an obsessed make-up artiste, who has been struggling to make his own place in the industry, solely based on his talent and capabilities. Despite his father being a renowned make-up artiste, he could not follow his footsteps. His career took a further dip when his straightforwardness and arrogance resulted in him insulting three big personalities of the industry. However, his life changes forever after the entry of a well-wisher.