However, I most definitely get the sense that the author is in some way defensive of Bengali cinema; there's a slight but persistent tone of "these movies are better than those [Bombay's, specifically]" (and maybe even "ours/yours"), an attitude that is probably betrayed by the book's specifically worded subtitle. The author elaborates the phrase "an other nation" into the theme that Bengali cinema has long been a separate world from Hindi films, creating its own narrative for the nation, as well as one that operated earlier and more profoundly in an international context, in terms both of movies being seen outside India and of influences coming in (owing in part to Calcutta as the former capital and long interested in outside ideas, new technology, etc.). But like I said, I'm not done yet, so don't please don't take that as my final opinion. And because it's a proper academic book, it has footnotes, an index, and an extensive bibliography, should you want to know more. There's also a chapter on Ray that I think stands alone fairly well—and is extensively reproduced in Outlook here. There's even a Kindle version of the book for rent on Amazon, so go, read!
If imdb is to be believed, this gentle comedy (from the Bhanu-Jahar stable, I think?) is the first Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen pairing.
Bhanu Goenda Jahar Assitant much better.
Chowringhee has that Robert Altman feel of almost countless threads weaving together, this time set in a Calcutta hotel with Uttam Kumar being understatedly suave in a dapper suit as the invaluable front desk staff who keeps the guests and management happy even when he doesn't like what they're up to. He is utterly charming in his romantic arc with Anjana Bhowmick
|This picture is here simply because I've never seen a woman in a 60s film want to be a pilot and I think it's freaking awesome.|
|I too can speak Bengali like Shakespeare!|
No doubt I am too uneducated in the subject to make pronouncements about what I think of Uttam Kumar as an actor, but I do want to say that after five of his films (all from the 1960s except Sare Chuattar above) I really like his style of calm that somehow communicates very readable, relatable emotion, whether it's regret, hesitation, love, whatever. Sometimes it seems his default facial expression is slightly smug (not aided by the occasional Dev Anand-y puff of hair), but once he starts moving, that disappears and is replaced by whatever is appropriate for the scene. He also has a fun twinkle in his eyes during some of his comic scenes that I really like. It's there in Nayak too, that expression of "This is silly, but I'm a nice guy so I'll go along" or "I think I'm really quite fond of you, so I'm going to see if I can get you to play with me awhile longer." A self-assuredness that does not devolve into arrogance and is actually more interested in conversation than declaration is so appealing.
And if you have any Uttam recommendations for me, please let me know. I plan to clean-sweep the Calcutta DVD stores of subtitled Soumitra, so why not sprinkle in some Uttam in as well?