Sunday, March 05, 2006

2006 SFIAAFF—Parineeta (The Married Woman)

The second Bengali film offered at this year's San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival—Parineeta (The Married Woman)—is shades away from Kaalpurush (Memories in the Mist). Parineeta, which according to the festival program is the fifth screen adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya's popular classic, and the directorial debut of Pradeep Sakar, shifts the setting of Chattopadhyaya's novel away from the turn of the century to the Calcutta of the 1960s.

Sarat babu (as Chattopadhyaya is affectionately known) is something of the D.H. Lawrence of Bengal, with whom he shared the gift of "an almost psychic insight into the female heart." As the press notes read, "His ability to see the essential woman, veiled as she was in thick layers of social conditioning, in the confirmatory nods to custom and tradition, and in a cloak of self-deception that females wore out of habit, was novel for its time." The Bengali novelist died in 1938 and is best remembered among cinephiles for Devdas, a book he wrote when he was 17 years old and different versions of which have appeared at least 11 times on the Indian screen.

As Taro Goto capsulizes for the festival program: "Shekhar (heartthrob Saif Ali Khan), son of a wealthy businessman, and Lolita (radiant newcomer Vidya Balan), an orphan living with her uncle's family, are neighbors and childhood friends who fail to recognize the intense love between them until a businessman from London, Girish (Sanjay Dutt), arrives and sparks a love triangle. When Shekhar's nefarious father plots to usurp Lolita's uncle's home and turn it into a hotel, he also engineers a rift between Shekhar and Lolita. Their spectrum of emotions—from torrid passion to wistful longing—are delivered in melodic tunes that recall the old-world charm of yesteryear. A refreshing throwback to the unbridled romanticism of a bygone era, Parineeta is Bollywood cinema at its irresistible, old-fashioned best."

Here is the official website with trailer (sans English subtitles):

In January 2006 Parineeta held court at various Mumbai award ceremonies: Vidya Balan and director Pradeep Sarkar won best debut at the 2nd Apsara Film and Television Awards. Balan won Most Promising Newcomer (female) at the 12th annual Screen Awards. Sarkar won hottest young filmmaker at the Star Screen Awards, where Swanand Kirkere and Shantanu Moitra were awarded standout lyricist and standout music director trophies, respectively.

The ensemble followed through into February 2006 where Parineeta dominated the technical categories at the 51st Filmfare Awards—winning for Best Sound Design, Art Direction and Choreography. Vidya Balan won the Face of the Year and Best Female Debutant awards; and Shantanu Moitra won the R.D. Burman Award for best music director.

Parineeta also screened in the International Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was written up by Derek Elley for Variety:

"A most interesting occurrence that attracted everybody's attention," Taran Adarsh reported from the Berlinale, "was that majority of the audience were heard humming the tune from the famous song 'Piyu Bole' after the screening. Watching Germans fall in love with the music says all about how well the music of the film was appreciated at the Festival."

Am I the only one who recognizes Oscar Hammerstein and Harry Ruby's "A Kiss To Build A Dream On" in this score?

Planet Bollywood reviews Parineeta and seem to agree with Variety that the effort to trim the movie's length might have been at the sacrifice of a more successful ending; one not so "overcooked":

Amardeep Singh reviews Parineeta and moderates some insightful commentary:

Dinesh Raheja for

Subhash K. Jah for

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