Monday, June 15, 2009

Review of Uttam Kumar's Shankhabela.

Review of Uttam Kumar’s Shankhabela.

Uttam Kumar was the uncrowned monarch of Bengali classic films of the 50s, 60s and 70s. He had acted in around 205 films, so most of his films are landmarks in Bengali film industry. But some of the films created history due to some unique reasons. Shankhabela is one of that kind of film.

The film as released in 1966. Uttam Kumar was big corporate officer in the film who had married Madhabi Mukherjee and had a small son. Due to requirement of corporate world, he had to give parties distribute drinks to the business tycoons of the respective jurisdiction and get involved in drinking himself. All these activities were not like by Madhabi Mukherjee. She felt that all those activities could spoil her son.

After repeated requests when Madhabi saw that Uttam Kumar could not avoid parties, drinking, etc., she left the house and lived separately with her son. The son fell seriously in due period of time and was brought before Bosonto Choudhury, a specialist doctor in Kolkata. He asked her to get her son admitted in the hospital.

While treating the child he tried to reunite the family which was virtually separated. He called Uttam Kumar, the father of the child, and told him about his son’s sickness and rebuked him for failing to fulfill the responsibilities of a father. After curing the child he asked Uttam Kumar to take his wife and child back home thereby ending their mental differences.

The important fact in the film was that the composer Sudhin Dasgupta, used Manna Dey, the legendary singer of bollywood films to sing songs for Uttam Kumar, for the first time. He was associated with successful Hemant Kumar whose matched him the most. Manna Dey was previously used in the song “lag lag lag lag velki khela” in Uttam Kumar’s film Goli Theke Rajpoth in 1959, by Sudhin Dasgupta, but that was not a musical film, and the musical excellence of Manna Dey remained unnoticed.

Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar’s spirited performance in the songs “ke pratham kache asechi”, “ami agantuk ami barta dilam”, “aaj mon cheyeche ami hariye jabo” flabbergasted the Bengali audience. Due to the success of Shankhabela, Manna Dey dethroned Hemant Kumar from being the dominant singer in Bengali films, and created a magical combination with Uttam Kumar till his death. Manna Dey’s hit songs for Uttam Kumar stormed Bengali films like Anthony Firingi, Nishi Padda, Chowrangee, Jibon Mrityu, Stri, Chaddabeshi, Chiradiner, Sanyasi Raja, etc., to name a few.

Besides, Uttam Kumar gave the most romantic lips in a boat with Madhabi in Mython in the romantic song “ke prothom kache esechi”. The composition was totally westernized and the lyrics written by Pulak Banerjee was very romantic. Even legendary composer Naushad appreciated Sudhin Dasgupta for making the tune of “ke pratham kache esechi”, when Sudhin Dasgupta went to Bombay to place it before Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar.

The other aspect of the film directed by Saroj De ( the main director of Agragami), was the casting of Bosonto Choudhury in the role of the doctor. He was assisted by a panel of doctors including Mrinal who had his debue in the film, but his personality overshadowed the romantic personality of Uttam Kumar. Critics argue that Bosonto Choudhury gave his best performance in the film Shankhabela. The film addressed the intellectual viewers of Bengal and other parts of the country and could be very well categorsied as cine-classic. The film and the songs should be restored for those reasons.

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