April 25: Workshop for Film-in-Progress at the Savoy Theatre * 1:15-3:15 pm

Writers Rita Banerjee and David Shields will present a Workshop for their Film-in-Progress at the Savoy Theatre in Downtown Montpelier, VT from 1:15-3:15 pm on Thursday, April 25. Members of the community and writers and artists from the Vermont College of Fine Arts are welcome to attend.  A description of the film follows below:

Shortly before the November 2015 terrorist attacks, David Shields, who is Jewish, and Rita Banerjee, who is Bengali, come to Paris to try to understand the current American racial cataclysm from a French perspective. David and Rita try to discuss skin color, class, gender, privilege, and art—only to discover that they disagree about everything. Back in the States, they discover that the space between any two people is the source of all hate and all love.

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Screening of Kamaleswar Mukherjee’s Chander Pahar (2013) – July 5

ChanderPaharRita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Kamaleswar Mukherjee’s 2013 film, Chander Pahar (Moon Mountain), on Tuesday July 5 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Genre and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in genre, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

Chander Pahar (Moon Mountain), a beloved Bengali adventure novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay in 1937, is not an easy book to bring to the big screen. Key plot points include an erupting volcano and a prehistoric-looking beast, not to mention deadly spiders, snakes and lions. The story follows Shankar (Dev), a young Indian man beset with wanderlust. He can hardly believe his good fortune when he lands a job as a station manager along a Ugandan railroad, which means he’ll be living alone in the wilderness of Africa visited by people only when the train makes its brief daily stop. The latter half of the movie involves Shankar’s friendship with another adventurer, Diego Alvarez (Gerard Rudolf), and their journey to find riches in the Richtersveld, a mountainous desert region in South Africa.   Director Kamaleswar Mukherjee shot the film primarily in South Africa, and the vistas and animals are breathtaking. – Stephanie Merry, The Washington Post

Screening of Srijit Mukherji’s Hemlock Society (2012) – June 17

Hemlock2

Rita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Srijit Mukherji’s 2012 film, Hemlock Society, on Friday June 17 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Genre and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in genre, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

Hemlock Society depicts the wear and tear of the city life and how mechanical we are becoming. Meghna (Koel Mallick) is down and out after she finds her boyfriend cheating. Her relationship of many years crumbles within a few minutes. The matter is made further worse with her loosing her job and he bitter relationship with her father who has married someone else after her mother’s death. Desperate and disgruntled Meghna contemplates suicide. As she is about to gulp some sleeping pills, she is intruded upon by a strange man who calls himself Ananda Kar (Parambrata Chatterjee). Ananda tells her that she has every right to commit suicide but warns her that a failed suicide is much worse than death in itself. She offers to train her on how to commit suicide professionally at his school, which he calls “The Hemlock Society.”  Shaken and confused, Meghna agrees and sets off on a journey with this strange man not knowing that the journey she embarks upon will lead her to self discovery, happiness, and above all, love. ~ Aambar.

Screening of Tapan Sinha’s Kabuliwala (1957) – May 3

kabuliwalaRita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Tapan Sinha’s’s 1957 film, Kabuliwala, on Tuesday May 3 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Genre and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in genre, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

Rabindranath Tagore’s story Kabuliwala, set in the early twentieth century Kolkata, is about a little girl Mini and a merchant from Afghanistan affectionately called the “Kabuliwala.” Tapan Sinha’s adaptation of Tagore’s story explores the bonds of friendship, affection, and parting as Mini and the Kabuliwala strike up an unexpected rapport, and demonstrate how relationships can transcend the borders of race, religion, and language.

Bandopadhyay’s The Song of the Road and Satyajit Ray’s Pather Pānchālī – February 2

Rita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Satyajit Ray’s 1955 film, Pather Pānchālī, on Tuesday February 2 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Translation and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in translation studies, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.  Satyajit Ray’s Pather Pānchālī is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s 1929 Bengali novel, The Song of the Road.

“[Pather Pānchālī] was the birth of a cinema, certainly the birth of a new kind of Indian cinema. On the first day of the shoot, the director had never directed, the cameraman had never shot a scene, the children in the leading roles hadn’t been tested and the soundtrack was composed by a then obscure sitarist (the great Ravi Shankar). Perhaps this inexperience gave everyone involved the freedom to create something new. Certainly director Satyajit Ray and cinematographer Subrata Mitra showed a miraculous gift for lighting scenes, coaxing intimate and utterly convincing performances from children and other non-professional actors, and allowing narrative to grow seamlessly – just as happened in the best of the films by Ray’s western mentor, Jean Renoir…It’s a film that blindsides the viewer by showing a child’s perspective on the world: it is Apu and Durga’s perspective on a train passing by, their discovery of their aunt’s body or their excitement at the sound of the sweet-seller’s bells that captivate us jaded adults. This is the first of a trilogy in which Apu leaves childish things behind and goes into a world every bit as confounding as the one his father could not master.” – Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian

Premchand’s Shatranj ke Khilari and Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players – November 24

the-chess-playersRita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Satyajit Ray’s 1977 film, The Chess Players, on Tuesday November 24 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Translation and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in translation studies, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

“Satyajit Ray’s gently satiric parable The Chess Players reminds us that, in the days before America’s machinations in Iraq, we had the British East India Company running roughshod in much same way in India. Ray opens his movie with a documentary-style recap of the Company’s mid-19th century wheeling-dealing in Oudh, a wealthy province in northeastern India. The Company had Oudh’s king, Wajid Ali Shah, by the balls: If the king agreed to finance the Company’s regional ambitions, and even supply it with necessary troops, it wouldn’t meddle in or usurp the king’s power. By 1856, though, the British, eager to fatten their imperial coffers, broke their détente with King Wajid, and instructed their local operative, General Outram, to do whatever it takes to roll into Oudh and take charge…[In the film], Mirza (Sanjeev Kumar) and Meer (Saeed Jaffrey), two Lucknow noblemen, are so enamored of chess playing that they’re oblivious to the political and domestic upheavals around them. While Mirza’s wife wiles away in her bedroom, cross and neglected, Meer uses her husband’s all-day devotion to chess playing as an opportunity for some cuckolding. These guys are too tuned-out, however, too buffoonish to pick up on these clues. Likewise, they blissfully shrug off rumors of the East India Company’s troops imminently laying siege to their pleasure haven and deposing their king. “ – Jay Antani, Slant

Tagore’s The Broken Nest & Satyajit Ray’s Charulata – November 17

CharulataRita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Satyajit Ray’s 1964 film, Charulata, on Tuesday November 17 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, (Ludwigstr. 31, Seminarraum 427).  The screening is part of the course Translation and Modern South Asian Literatures at LMU.  Anyone interested in translation studies, Modern South Asian literature, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.

“Satyajit Ray’s film Charulata, based on Rabindranath Tagore’s story The Broken Nest, is 50 years old, but it’s just so extraordinarily vivid and fresh. While watching this – in fact any of his films – the same question recurs: why aren’t we talking about Ray more? Or, in fact, all the time? There is such miraculous clarity here, such great acting, staged with theatrical aplomb and shot with unshowy genius. It has the effortless fluency and gaiety of a Shakespearean comedy. The setting is Calcutta in British India: Charulata, played by the hypnotically beautiful Madhabi Mukherjee, is the bored, cultured wife of a newspaper editor and proprietor who prides himself on being a bold free-thinker. His charming young wastrel cousin, a would-be writer called Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee), comes to stay and Amal and Charulata take an interest in each other’s literary aspirations – as well as in each other generally. The delicate pathos and subtle comedy of their romance is a joy, and there is wonderful audacity in the way Ray shows Charulata’s life at the beginning – simply looking out of the window, studying the passersby with the engaged curiosity of a true artist. Ray’s own artistry and poise emerges very strongly. This film is a tonic – a vitamin boost for the mind and heart.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian