Why Srijit Mukherji Is Now Part Of An Exclusive Club Of Bengali Directors?
Srijit Mukherji is up for a real challenge. Wondering what?
This highly-successful Bengali filmmaker is all set to make his Hindi film debut with Begum Jaan. By now, we all know that this all-women film is a remake of his 2015 Bengali film Rajkahini. Rajkahini spoke about Bengal suffering during the Partition, whereas Begum Jaan is set in the pre-partition Punjab.
Ever since the trailer of Begum Jaan has released, there have been non-stop conversations both online and offline comparing Begum Jaan with Rajkahini.
No one but Srijit knows best that these conversations will hit the roof once Begum Jaan releases on April 14. But then, he could have easily saved himself from this entire hullabaloo had he made a film which is not a remake of a Bengali version.
With Begum Jaan, Srijit has now joined the “exclusive club of Bengali filmmakers” who have directed their own films in both Bengali and Hindi. There are tons of examples of directors whose regional films have been adapted in other languages, but there are only a handful of Bengali filmmakers (and they are veterans) who have directed their own film in both the languages. A quick recap isn’t that bad:
Director: Nitin Bose
Bengali: Bhagya Chakra (1935)
Hindi: Dhoop Chhaon (1935)
Dhoop Chhaon is an iconic film. It became the first Hindi film to introduce playback singing in Indian Cinema. Rai Chand Boral was the music composer. The film was a Hindi remake of Nitin Bose’s own Bengali film, Bhagya Chakra.
Director: Pramathesh Chandra Barua
Bengali: Devdas (1935)
Hindi: Devdas (1936)
It’s a classic. Pramathesh Barua adapted Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s work Devdas on the big screen and he himself played the titular role. His wife Jamuna Barua played his love interest Paro and Chandrabati Devi essayed the role of Chandramukhi. Just a year later, Barua made a Hindi version of Devdas and this time, KL Saigal played the hero with Jamuna Barua reprising the role of Paro again. Rajkumari was seen as Chandramukhi in this 1936 film. Till today, KL Saigal is known for his portrayal of Devdas. Interestingly, Barua also made an Assamese version of this film. Do you know who the cinematographer was in the Hindi version? Bimal Roy.
Director: Bimal Roy
Bengali: Udayer Pathey (1944)
Hindi: Humrahi (1945)
Before he directed the cult classic Do Bigha Zamin, filmmaker Bimal Roy directed Bengali film Udayer Pathey with Maya Basu, Biswanath Bhaduri and Radhamohan Bhattacharya. In 1945, he remade the film in Hindi as Humrahi. The same cast was seen in the Hindi version too. Like almost all his films, Udayer Pathey and Humrahi too were socialistic films. Both the films went onto become a part of history because Bimal Roy used Rabindranath Tagore’s Jana Gana Mana in the films, even before it became the National Anthem of India in 1950.
Director: Satyen Bose
Bengali: Paribartan (1949)
Hindi: Jagriti (1954)
Satyen Bose is mostly remembered for directing three brothers – Kishore Kumar, Anoop Kumar and Ashok Kumar – in the 1958 comedy Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. But few know that Satyen Bose made his directorial debut with the Bengali film Paribartan in 1949. The film talks about life at a boarding school and Bose even played the role of a teacher. He remade his own film in 1954, and this time he roped in Abhi Bhattacharya, Pranoti Ghosh and Mumtaz Begum.
Directors: Amit Maitra and Sombhu Mitra
Bengali: Ek Din Ratre (1956)
Hindi: Jagte Raho (1956)
Raj Kapoor produced both versions of this black-and-white film and even acted in it. The film, directed by Amit Maitra and Sombhu Maitra, narrates the journey of a penniless man, who arrives in a city in search of better living. At the dead of night, he is thirsty and is in need of water. The character of a drunkard was played by Motilal Rajvansh in the Hindi version and the same role was essayed by Chhabi Biswas in the Bengali version.
Director: Asit Sen
Bengali: Chalachal (1956)
Hindi: Safar (1970)
In 1956, Asit Sen, (the filmmaker, not the comedian) made a film against the backdrop of the medical profession with Arundhati Debi, Pahadi Sanyal, Nirmal Kumar and Chandraboti Debi. After 14 years, Asit Sen recreated the same film, this time for the Hindi audience with Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore and Feroz Khan. The film, Safar, was one of the biggest hits of that year.
Director: Asit Sen
Bengali: Dweep Jele Jai (1959)
Hindi: Khamoshi (1969)
Asit Sen extracted the best out of Suchitra Sen yet again. She played a nurse (Radha) in Dweep Jele Jai. One of the most popular films of Suchitra Sen, this film was remade by Asit Sen in Hindi. Waheeda Rehman played the titular role and Rajesh Khanna was seen in the role of a patient which Vasanta Choudhury played in the Bengali version. Kishore Kumar’s rendition of “Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi” made the film memorable. The song was shot in Kolkata, with the view of Howrah Bridge.
Director: Asit Sen
Bengali: Uttar Falguni (1963)
Hindi: Mamta (1966)
If you surf the Bengali movie channels on any weekend, you would definitely come across Suchitra Sen-starrer Uttar Falguni. This film is etched in the minds of the Bengali audience for Suchitra Sen’s dual role of a mother-daughter. Bikash Roy also played a pivotal character. Do you know who the producer of this National award-winning film was? Uttam Kumar. In 1966, Asit Sen directed Suchitra Sen (double role), Ashok Kumar and Dharmendra in the Hindi remake of the film.
Bengali: Balika Badhu (1967)
Hindi: Balika Badhu (1976)
Actress Moushumi Chatterjee entered filmdom at the age of 15 through Tarun Majumdar’s Bengali film Balika Badhu (1967). A poignant coming-of-age story of a child bride which evolves into a love story of a young couple, Tarun Majumdar recreated the same story in Hindi in 1976 with Sachin and Rajni Sharma. The film is still remembered for the cult song, “Bade Achchhe Lagte Hain,” by Amit Kumar.
Director: Tapan Sinha
Bengali: Sagina Mahato (1970)
Hindi: Sagina (1974)
Those who have not watched this gem don’t wait. Tapan Sinha directed Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu and Anil Chatterjee in both the versions of the film. A path-breaking film, the story is set against the backdrop of a tea estate during the British Rule and reveals a crucial part of our history. The story is real and so are the performances.
Director: Srijit Mukherji
Bengali: Rajkahini (2015)
Hindi: Begum Jaan (2017)
In an industry where women are portrayed in stereotypical ways, Srijit Mukerji directed an all-woman film with some of the most popular actresses of Bengali film industry. The film had its share of both positive and negative reviews. But that didn’t stop the director from remaking it (he is calling it an adaptation) in Hindi. Vidya Balan, who has carried films on her shoulders, plays the madam of the brothel where all the action takes place.
PS: Here we would like to mention that veteran director Shakti Samanta is known for starting the trend of filming a movie in two languages. He used to simultaneously shoot both the versions. Some of his notable films in both Bengali and Hindi are Amanush (1974) and Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (Bengali version: Anusandhan). Also, there were hardly any changes in the casting of his double version films. Rituparno Ghosh’s Sunglass (2013) had two versions – the Bengali was called Sunglass while the Hindi was Taak Jhaank with one change in the casting. Madhavan played Konkona’s husband in the Hindi version while Tota Roy Choudhury played the same character in the Bengali version. The film was complete and censored in 2006 but was never released theatrically till it had two screenings, one each of the different language versions, as the opening and closing films at the Kolkata Film Festival in 2013. Reports say that the film was shot in two language versions simultaneously.
Srijit is also planning to make Hindi versions of his earlier Bengali films – Hemlock Society and Chatushkone. In the meantime, talks are on with Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay and Nandita Roy for the longest time to make their hit Bengali films, Ichche, and Bela Seshe in Hindi. We can’t wait.
Srijit is proud that he has joined the list of illustrious directors, who are known for making their own film in both the versions. He is glad to have directed a powerhouse performer like Vidya Balan in his Hindi launch pad. “If you are bracketed with names like Pramathesh Barua, Bimal Roy, Asit Sen , Tarun Majumdar and Tapan Sinha (the name I possibly idolize the most) … you can but only pinch yourself and ask… Is this for real?” he smiles.
Srijit, who prefers to call himself “a storyteller”, says he has always tried to head into uncharted territory. “I have always gone ahead and told stories exactly the way I have wanted to without thinking of anything else. I always wanted to tell stories to more people. This is why I shifted from theatre to films and now have started making films in Hindi too. I want to reach a wider audience,” says Srijit nonchalantly.
If we have missed out on any film, do tell us at Kolkata Breeze.
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