Bong means BO hit in Bollywood!

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

Bollywood is re-writing its script thanks to a bevy of young Bengali directors who bring their own unique film making style to the table. This is not about art or commercial cinema but assured box office success.

Welcome to the world of cinema promoted by young Bengali directors like Shoojit Sircar, Dibakar Banerjee, Sujoy Ghosh and Anurag Basu. They turned out one hit after another this year with Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Vicky Donor’ being the latest success featuring a Bengali director.

This film, about infertility and sperm donation, reinforced the new found capabilities of young Bengali directors. Earlier ‘Kahani’ by Sujoy Ghosh turned out to be a box office hit even as its story line was quite unconventional: a much pregnant woman in search of her missing husband in the ‘city of joy’ with enough twists and turns to keep the audience engaged.

So, what is the key differentiator that these young directors have on offer? They have made movies that have witnessed box office success as much as they have earned critical acclaim. They have explored subjects of passion and dark realities of Indian cinema with a difference.

The differentiation is also in the modesty some of these directors have about their cinematic excellence. Sujoy Ghosh, director of movies like Kahani and Jhankaar Beats said, “As an artist everybody puts in a lot of hard work and dedication in making a film so it is difficult to say whether being a Bengali makes it special. Bengali directors bring in their culture in films as they have grown in that culture and hence they can portray it well.”

He has a plausible explanation to offer on movie making and box office success. “India has so many diverse cultures and hence people of India would love to know more about their own culture and when it is shown through movies it has a great impact on them and it brings a change.”

But does a movie on sperm donation fit in easily with the culture fabric of the country? Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Vicky Donor’ was able to connect with all genre and age groups. A concept about which many of us are not even aware of and was also considered to be a taboo was successful in reaching out to the masses. This is perhaps all about the art of storytelling using cinema as a medium.

Sam, a 24 year old research analyst from Delhi said, “Movies like ‘Vicky donor’, ‘Shanghai’ and ‘Life in A Metro’ have increased the list of realistic movies, which is the flavor of the season. These movies have widened the perception of Indian viewers from reel cinema to real cinema.”

A peep inside other Bengali director who tasted recent success includes Dibakar Banerjee, who has built an image to do it differently. His movies like ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’,’ Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’, ‘Love Sex Aur Dhokha’ and the recent political thriller ‘Shanghai’ has given a new perspective to Bollywood. The winner of two national awards (for ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ and ‘Oye! Lucky! Lucky Oye!), Banerjee has proved that a filmmaker does not require exquisite outdoor locations and massive budget to deliver a hit.

The viewer feedback says it all: “These are the movies that even a layman can understand. The stories are based on substance and are close to reality,” said Sukanya, a young social worker in the capital. She cited Anurag Basu’s ‘Life in a metro’ terming it “as a very beautiful presentation of urban life.”

While Bong directors have traditionally been central to Bollywood given their style and choice of treatment, the all round box office success witnessed this year is an add on. Old directors like Shakti Samanta and Hrishikesh Mukherjee with their movies like Aaradhana, Amar Prem, Golmal, Guddi, and Bawarchi shaped the careers of many actors and actresses and also carved a niche for themselves. They basically depicted the emotions and the problems of a common man. These bong directors also depicted woman as a strong character in their movies.

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