20 Bengali Films From The Last 20 Years And Where to Find Them On OTT , Film Companion
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We leave out the classics — Ray and his contemporaries, the Uttam-Suchitra movies, the comedies and the early Rituparno Ghosh and Aparna Sen films of the 80s/90s — for another list. And some of the better films from recent years such as Sthaniyo Sangbad, Nagarkirtan and Rajlokhi o Srikanto aren’t available on OTT platforms, yet. But here’s a list of Bengali films from the last 20 years that you can watch online.

Amazon Prime

Herbert

Director: Sumon Mukhopadhyay 

A sprawling, decade-spanning saga of an eccentric man who commits suicide at the beginning of the film, Sumon Mukhopadhyay’s debut feature (adapted from the novel by the radical, wild Nabarun Bhattacharya) is as much about the life of Herbert Sarkar—growing up in a traditional North Calcutta house, the haunted nights of the Naxal days—as it is about the city, in all its decay and glory. Both a celebration and a lament.

Asha Jaoar Majhe

Director: Aditya Vikram Sengupta

A film about two people, who never meet, except for a fleeting few moments in the day, because of different work shifts, Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s beautiful debut is wordless because it doesn’t need them. The functional becomes Romantic. Featuring one of the greatest close-ups of a sauce pan being readied to cook fish curry.

Jyeshthoputro (Also on Zee5)

Director: Kaushik Ganguly

With their opposite acting styles and credentials, Prosenjit Chatterjee, the movie star who left theatre for greener pastures, and Ritwick Chakraborty, the one who stayed back, lock horns to generate solid drama in Kaushik Ganguly’s tale of two brothers (which unfolds over the course of the week following their father’s death in their ancestral home).

Netflix 

Gandu

Director: Q 

Boasting of a rap-heavy soundtrack and grimy black and white cinematography, Q’s lo-fi indie sensation is meant to provoke and shock and take you to places you don’t want to go.

Asamapta

Director: Sumon Mukhopadhyay 

Sexual tension, insecurity and friendship underline the weird dynamics between Moloy (Bratya Basu), his wife Tuki (Swastika Mukherjee) and his childhood friend, Indrajit (Ritwick Chakraborty): a guest for a few days at their home in Darjeeling. As much an outdoor film as it is indoor, Sumon Mukhopadhyay’s underrated work recalls Ray’s hill station movie Kanchenjunga in its understated, languid, fog-shrouded atmosphere.

Tope

Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta

Shot in Purulia — where he keeps going back to film new subjects, new stories — arthouse giant Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s film from 2016 is, above everything else, about the splendour of the landscape: the rolling moors, the sprawling trees. Funny, and perverse in a good way.

Machher Jhol

Director: Pratim D. Gupta

Paris-based celebrity chef Dev D (Ritwick Chakraborty) struggles to achieve perfection with a simple fish curry recipe after he returns home to his ailing mother (Mamata Shankar). Pratim D. Gupta’s film lies at the intersection of a traditionally food-crazy culture and the new world of Masterchef, #foodstagram and focaccia bread. Comfort viewing for the homesick Bengali.

Mayurakshi

Director: Atanu Ghosh 

A son (Prosenjit Chatterjee) visiting his ailing father (Soumitra Chatterjee) in Kolkata may not sound like a thrilling premise. But trust Atanu Ghosh to locate the unusual in the ordinary. He gives the father a strange kind of ailment: he has stopped registering new memories, but he remembers the things that matter.

Jonaki

Director: Aditya Vikram Sengupta

Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s second feature, after Asha Jaoar Majhe, captures the dream-like quality in movies and the movie-like quality in dreams. Starring yesteryear Bengali actress Lolita Chatterjee, the memories of his grandmother, and old haunted locations.

Jonaki; Aditya Vikram Sengupta

Disney + Hotstar

Challenge (Also on Hoichoi)

Director: Raj Chakraborty 

Raj Chakraborty came close to bridging the urban-rural audience gap in Bengali cinema with Challenge, a familiar story about star-crossed lovers, satiating our masala cravings with a newfound sleekness, an enjoyable Jeet Gannguli album and a terrific comic turn by Rajatava Datta. The emotions work and the punches land.

Baishe Srabon (Also on Hoichoi)

Director: Srijit Mukherjee 

Srijit Mukherjee’s sophomore feature, a serial killer story, marries genre thrills with the Hungryalist movement. A mad poet is prime suspect in a series of murders in rain-drenched, noirish Kolkata. Filled with directorial flourishes, headlined by a career-defining performance by Prosenjit Chatterjee — as the hard-drinking cop who is brought back from retirement — and a great Anupam Roy album.

Bhooter Bhabishyat (Also on Hoichoi)

Director: Anik Dutta 

An old house in North Calcutta being given up for redevelopment has unlikely saviours: the ghosts who live there—and therefore have a stake in it. Anik Dutta’s inventive and original debut film is a Bengali comedy for the ages, with entertaining performances by each of its ensemble members that include Saswata Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Kharaj Mukherjee and Swastika Mukherjee.

YouTube 

Phoring

Director: Indranil Roychowdhury 

A dreamy-eyed adolescent boy’s infatuation with the new school teacher (a breezy Sohini Sarkar) leads to things of far greater consequences. Indranil Roychowdhury’s first film is also about a place: the leafy environs of a Dooars-surrounded township in North Bengal.

Bakita Byaktigato (Also on Zee5)

Director: Pradipta Bhattacharya 

An amateur filmmaker and his sidekick cinematographer set out to make a documentary about love: a lofty idea, but one that leads to the discovery of a village, where whoever sets foot inevitably falls in love. Pradipta Bhattacharya’s superb debut feature has the touch of sublime, that presents rural Bengal as a strange wonderland. With winning turns by Ritwick Chakraborty and Amit Mandal.

Dutta vs Dutta (Also on Zee5)

Director: Anjan Dutt

Adolescence and rite of passage in a Calcutta of another time: the hip, cool people who introduced you to rock music, the girl in the Christmas party who broke your heart. Growing up in a dysfunctional family. Anjan Dutt’s semi-autobiographical film feels like the last of his flawed personal epics such as Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona and Madly Bangalee—and to an extent, The Bong Connection: passionate, messy and aching with nostalgia.

Chalo Let’s Go

Director: Anjan Dutt

Four friends start a travel agency — there’s something peculiarly Bengali about it — and embark on their first trip to, where else, but North Bengal. With a group of varied characters on board, Anjan Dutt’s grand picnic of a film—which serves as a showcase of one of Bengali cinema’s strengths: its rich repertoire of fantastic character actors—is about how successful, or disastrous, that turns out to be.

Shabdo

Director: Kaushik Ganguly 

A folly artist starts hearing less and less of human voices and more and more of ambient sounds—almost as if a twist of magic realism, and yet shown as clinically plausible. Kaushik Ganguly’s unusual life-imitates-art film has a finely-tuned, breakthrough performance by Ritwick Chakraborty.

Hoichoi

Shubho Mahurat

Director: Rituparno Ghosh 

In his Agatha Christie adaptation, Rituparno Ghosh takes the Bengali detective tradition forward by turning it into an all-women affair. The inspired casting, of Rakhi as the officially Bengali Miss Marple, Sharmila Tagore as the producer’s wife and Nandita Das as a film journalist–who finds herself at the scene of the murder–does more than half the job.

Bheetu

Director: Utsav Mukherjee

A local ruffian and his clique make the lives of new residents, the two sisters, miserable when he starts stalking one of them. Like Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, Utsav Mukherjee’s debut film, set in a newly developing part of Kolkata, makes a hostile environment palpable, and along with it, presents a critique of masculinity.

Robibar

Director: Atanu Ghosh

Atanu Ghosh’s films are small-scale but inventive, with off-kilter plots made totally believable. And he can really slow-cook a story, dwelling on the micro ingredients and following them to a conclusion. Robibar, set in Kolkata on a Sunday, with its empty cafes and roadside dhabas, is about two people: a corporate law officer (Jaya Ahsan) who is writing a book on fraudster psychology, and her ex (Prosenjit Chatterjee), a man of many mysteries.

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