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1970’s

Does a man’s philosophical perspective change with time?Does a man’s convictions change with time?Does a man’s view towards a piece of art change with time?.. for all the above questions my answer would be YES because few days ago i watched Shyam Benegal’s BHUMIKA for the second time,the first time i watched it was a couple of years ago when i was in my third year of engineering when i was watching it for the second time i could not resist myself from viewing every scene with a microscopic eye.The first time was a good watch with the sense of feelings of diversion from the mainstream cinema,a wonderful and screenplay,remarkable performances and good direction.The second time was a little different ,the shots and scenes are like bubbles in a hot water which just come for few moments and vanish before the other ones are ready to come .

BHUMIKA is a story about a film actress who undergoes through various stages and various situations in her life which have been challenging throughout her life.The untypical narration of the film which moves to and fro with the flashbacks and the present and the thought provoking screenplay makes BHUMIKA a masterpiece.Instead of writing the plot and my views on it i would rather go by few moments,resemblance, symbolism and characters of the film that made me feel BHUMIKA a distinct film of the 1970’s-1990’s era.

The film starts by shooting of a song which stars Usha (Smita Patil) and after the shooting she waits for her car but eventually Usha gets into Rajan’s (Anant Nag) car and after that we see a movie poster ‘Agni Pariksha’ being moved by some men which hints us at the life of Usha.The film title is used in many instances of the film.The next scene in which we see Keshav Darvi (Amol Palekar) and Usha arguing on some issue and we hear the dialouge from Usha

“Meri Kamayi ki zarrorat hai isi liye hain na?”.

After this dialogue i was expecting a slap from Keshav Darvi instead he lights a cigarette with a furious look and continues his dialogue.In the next scene Benegal at a time involves 4 characters Usha,Usha’s Daughter,Usha’s Mother and Keshav demonstrating encapsulation and capturing the emotions and feelings of all the characters within less time.If the previous mentioned scene was to be directed by a normal mainstream director he would have perhaps made Usha meet every character then show her emotions and then leave the house.

In the flashback which is in Black and White where Ushas mother beats Usha for being rude and after that to show the love between the Mother and Daughter he uses only one scene in which Usha comes towards her mother and sleeps beside her.Shyam Benegal infuses some humor and comedy too,the scene where Usha goes near her grandmother and test her breathe whether she is alive or dead.The scene in which the heroine of the film tells that she has been selected and leaves in her car the next scene is the car scene in which Usha leaves the house.

To show the relationship between Usha and Rajan Benegal uses very smart visuals like the shooting a sword fight scene in which Rajan refers to the character as Usha and the portrait of Rajan and Usha hanging on a wall,throughout the film we hardly find any desperate dialogues between the characters.The screenplay is built in such a way that the viewer unconsciously gets into the mood of the characters.

Sunil Verma (Naseeruddin Shah) and Usha (Smita Patil) :

Sunil Verma is the most distinctive role played by Naseeruddin Shah.Sunil Verma is a film director who does not believe in Emotional and Sentimental issues, he sees life as a job and nothing else.The most interesting dialogues come through Sunil Verma’s tongue,when he uses his daughters death as a excuse to not to play HOLI which actually uses it as a trick.He feels that Reincarnation,soul,etc… are bullshit.

“Apne is desh mein dimak se koi sochta nahin hain,Dil se sochte hai sab.”

“Haqeeqat ko nazar andaaz karna hum logo ki qasiyat hai Usse bhi mann nahi bahla to Aatma.Punar Janm ki baton se mann behlayenga”.

“Accident mein marna mujhe pasand nahin hai,mein maroonga to khud kushi karke,Aatma Hatya,lekin us waqt nahin jab mein gambhir and mayoos hoon,kushi aur itminaan ka lamha chunoonga”.

“Zindagi ke hakeeqat to tune hamesha rangeen chasmo se dekha hain”.

After talking all the above nonsense eventually he gives us a surprise leaving Usha in the state of dilemma.

Vinayak Kale (Amrish Puri) and Usha (Smita Patil):

The first encounter of Usha with Vinayak Kale (Amrish Puri) was a rough one in which Vinayak Kale exudes his disrespect towards actresses but later Usha is comfortable being a pampered mistress of Vinayak Kale.The character of Vinayak Kale is filled with masked evil.At the first meeting itself he tries to dominate Usha by showing his disrespect without any fear and later when they are on their way to Vinayak Kale’s palace he says

Vinayak Kale :Woh dekho mera Beta.
Usha:Tumhara Beta ??

Usha:Tumhe muje kabhi bataya nahin…

Vinayak Kale :Usha? Maine tumhe bataya nahin ya tumne mujse poocha nahin… ya ..yeh baat hi nahin nikli..yeh sab mumkin hain

…………….
……………..

abhi bhi waqt hain. agar tum wapas jana chahti ho to driver tume wapis drop kardega.

After stepping into the house of Vinayak Kale when she comes to know that she cant step outside the house and her life is confined to the palace she approaches for the help of Keshav.The scene in which Keshav comes with the police and takes Usha away from the palace,the scene is shot without any dialogues and the camera is placed at a crazy angle which hardly any other director would attempt to do it but it has a profound impact.

BHUMIKA has high technical values like the Cinematography, large part of the film is shot in Black and White, i have never seen such a wonderful Black and white Cinematography.The Screenplay is the greatest asset of the film which is written by Satyadev Dubey , Shyam Benegal and Girish Karnad for which they won the National Award,the screenplay is simple with some powerful expressions.There is a scene in which Smita Patil faces the Mirror which reminded me of a scene from Wim Wenders ‘Wings of Desire’,i am not trying to say that Wim Wenders copied from BHUMIKA,those are few hints which one could find from a directors work to guess that he is great director.

The above written stuff may be a little exaggerated to many readers but this is something really true which i have witnessed after i watched it for the second time.

Originally published on Passionforcinema.com

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Orginal name:Novecento

Bernardo Bertolucci is one of the best writers of Italian Cinema. Bertolucci is the only one who can be counted with Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone and Luciano Vincenzoni as one of the instrumental people who elevated and enhanced Italian cinema to a different level. Sergio Leone always wanted Bertolucci to write the script besides Luciano Vincenzoni, but he never got the chance of writing the script for Sergio Leone. In fact he was asked by Sergio Leone to write the story and script for “Once Upon a Time in the West”, but later he was just asked to devise the story and not the script as Sergio Leone felt that the script would be too cerebral for American audience.

 Bernardo Bertolucci is the only director who can verbalize ‘The Proof of Love’ in the most innovative way. He makes his convictions of sexual love in an uncompromising manner which is clearly visible in his works like ‘Last Tango in Paris’, ‘Stealing Beauty’, and ‘The Dreamers’. I felt that Bertolucci is the perfect director who can infuse politics into films in the perfect way after watching ‘The Conformist (1970)’. Bernardo Bertolucci is the only director who never compromises on issues like Politics, Sex, Nudity and Incest in his films.

 1900

 ‘1900 ‘or Novecento(Italian) is the lengthiest film I have ever seen. I was told that I cannot find the Director’s Cut version of ‘1900’ but fortunately or unfortunately I did find the ‘302 minutes, 49 seconds ‘version which is slightly less than the original one which is 311 minutes.

 ‘1900’ is an epic film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. It tells the story of 2 friends during the 1900-1945 period. Robert De Niro (Alfredo Berlinghieri) and Gérard Depardieu (Olmo Dalcò) are born on the same day in 1900. Alfredo is born to the family of Landlords and Olmo is a peasant son.

Part1

In the part1 of ‘1900’ Bernardo Bertolucci shows the Social community of Italy. He tries to show the way in which both Alfredo and Olmo are grown in their respective communities. The first part is reserved for portraying the situation of Italy, the pathetic nature of the workers and peasants. The first part also depicts the families of both Alfredo and Olmo. The family of Olmo works in the fields of Alfredo.

Alfredo and Olmo become friends in their childhood and later Olmo leaves his native place and after many years he is back. Even after the long gap Alfredo and Olmo become more closer and they continue their friendship. Alfredo and Olmo find their women. Olmo is married to Anita who shares the same convictions of Olmo i.e. Communism and Alfredo finds Ada.The first part of 1900 introduces us to 2 characters called Attila and Regina who are very crucial in the Part2 of ‘1900’.

 The Part1 of 1900 is about 2hrs 35 minutes. After watching the first 90 minutes I lost my patience and I felt that

‘What  am I watching?’

‘Is this a Bernardo Bertolucci film? ‘

‘Does he needs to put this shit about Communism? ‘

I am very much inspired by the ideologies of Communism and I am very much aware that Bernardo Bertolucci is a true communist and an Anti-Facist but does he needs to put that much amount of his love towards communism and hatred towards facism in it. I did not even complete watching the Part1 and my feelings towards the film are almost negative but at the very end of the Part1 Bernardo Bertolucci exposes his true talent.

Best of Part1

  1. The scene in which Olmo catches the frogs and ties it to his hat.

  2. The Train scene which is used several times in the film.

  3. The scene in which one of the worker cut his hear.

  4. The last of scene of Part1 with Attila and the cat.

The last scene of Part1 took me by a surprise and i wanted to see that bertolucci who is a master in writing such unusual scenes.


 

Part2

The last scene of the Part1 raised my hopes for the second part. In the second part Olmo and Alfredo get married. Anita dies during child birth and she gives birth to a daughter named Anita and Alfredo does not have a good relationship with Ada .The first 40 minutes of the Part2 looks promising but it does not stand up to the expected and falls flat. The way in which the monster in Attila has been portrayed is just terrific. Attila and Regina (Alfredo’s cousin) are same in their perception towards communism and fascism .The last one hour of the film just shows the communism and the fall of fascism and there is no dramatic representation.

When I was watching the last one hour of the film I felt like I was watching a documentary film on Italian communism and fascism during the end of World War II .The second part just shows the fatigue part of the film. I was just hoping that film will be completed as soon as possible. I patted myself saying that I have a lot of patience.

 Best of Part2

  1. The scene in which Attila and Regina abuse a child and kill him.
  2. Killing of a pig by Olmo.

  3. The snow filled day during Christmas Eve.

  4. Killing of workers by the Fascists.

 

Bernardo Bertolucci directs a epic film which show the culture,social status of different communities and the fall of Fascism along with rise of Communism, the social status of the workers ,farmers etc…

 
I am not against lengthiest films; I loved ‘Once upon a time in America’, Schindler’s List, etc..,The problem with 1900 is that Bernardo Bertolucci doesn’t really know where the film is heading because his love towards Communism has made him to infuse many unnecessary scenes. We just don’t understand what he is trying to covey and what he is trying to convey himself.

This is definitely not a film which should be watched by normal film goers. Bernardo Bertolucci’s direction is good in parts and there are some amazing moments in the film and the way he portrays Italy is wonderful, he is brilliant in capturing the beauty of harvesting fields, the movement of the camera in the film is wonderful, he takes some long shots while the camera moves effortlessly from left to right, right to left etc .

No one could have directed such a film, may be this the best way in which any director can do.1900 falls below expectations but its a film which has to be watched by film lover’s .

Originally published on Passionforcinema.com