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2-min read

Book review: Bimal Roy’s daughter revisits 'Madhumati' in a compelling behind-the-scenes book

Lahiri reviews Rinki Roy Bhattacharya's new book 'Bimal Roy's Madhumati - Untold Stories from behind the scenes'.

Monojit Lahiri | IBNLive Specials

Updated:November 12, 2014, 2:02 PM IST
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Book review: Bimal Roy’s daughter revisits 'Madhumati' in a compelling behind-the-scenes book
Lahiri reviews Rinki Roy Bhattacharya's new book 'Bimal Roy's Madhumati - Untold Stories from behind the scenes'.
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Whenever the divide between art and commercial cinema is hotly debated or the new cinema is triumphantly celebrated [re-affirming the existence of quality, intelligent, cinematic fare over mindless opium for the masses, hysterically targeting the vulgar Rs.100 crore benchmark by catering to the lowest common denominator across 5000 screens] the informed, evolved and culturally-privileged aficionado of Hindi movies remember the masters of the past, foremost of whom was Bimal Roy. Cultured, educated and refined in sensibilities, Roy infused in his cinema a rooted neo realism that seamlessly fused social issues with rare poetic vision that enriched even as it empowered the viewer. Even today his Do Bigha Zamin, Sujata and Bandini remain iconic and timeless classics due to both subject and treatment.

Interestingly the late film-maker's daughter Rinki Roy Bhattacharya chooses to ignore those gems and focus on Madhumati, his 1957 film starring Dilip Kumar, Vyjantimala, Pran and Johnny Walker. Why? Was it because it was her father's most successful - box office film, way beyond his early masterpieces? Not really. She claims it was a "fortuitous coincidence" - which just happened when she was planning the golden jubilee celebration of the film. During the course of re-meeting the old stars, technicians and crew members who were involved in the making of Madhumati, she was suddenly seized with the idea of going behind the scenes to "explore untold stories" beckoning her to open ( like the spirit of Madhumati? ) this heartbreaking saga of love that was also a spine-chilling ghost story whose startling end [incidentally] was famously 'lifted' by the makers of the SRK blockbuster OSO!

'Untold Stories ...' is a riveting journey, a delicious slo-mo flashback into re-visiting the actual region, location and sites where the film was shot. It also has fascinating anecdotes, excerpts, quotes and takes from some of its leading stars and important, eminent personalities. It is the first book of its kind, in as much as a daughter's salutation to her father's film as also its unique approach to the subject of film. This is no book of quotes or quick-fix packaging job of a popular & loved masterpiece; it is a wonderfully crafted and scripted subjective, first-person-singular narrative trying to re-live re-discover and re-visit the magical path that led to the space occupied by those unforgettable characters.

'Untold Stories' is a rare genre-challenging book, defying conventional odds consciously taking path less traveled in fearless, adventurous fashion, celebrating old-fashioned story-telling in a glorious manner. Sans the glitz n' gloss of modern, new-age, hip-hop journalism, Roy Bhattacharya has demonstrated in print - what her father repeatedly did on celluloid - that a tale that is intrinsically powered with quality content and presented in an engaging form is bound to resonate with the informed reader.

Read it. Its really, truly an amazing journey through time.

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