50 years ago, Bhuvan Shome said "Chill Bro" and that's relevant even today!

“Hey Bro… Chill maadi” is I think what #MrinalSen said five decades ago. Or as they say in Telengana “Light Le Babu”. A delightful gem of a movie made in 1969 that spoke of loneliness, companionship and even social distancing! Sometimes it's important to remind ourselves that everything is not about rules and procedures. Slow down, enjoy the little things and have fun!

ASHOK’s FIVE reviews #BhuvanShome, the harbinger of the New wave arthouse film movement in India. It is available on YouTube as well as #MUBIINDIA. The male voice over commentary is done by someone the film credits simply as #Amitabh. My favourite Superstar’s career was launched through this move. And he earned Rs 300 for the narration!

I found the fact that such a simple film based on realism is narrated by the man who went on to define make-believe in the seventies! Very little actually happens in #BhuvanShome. I think Sen da had a lot of fun making this movie, giving a long leash to #UtpalDutt to break out on creativity and employing methods of film-making that the industry had never seen before.

One could argue that this could well have been a short movie, but I think the delineation of the character and the subtleties of the narrative are what make the film truly delightful. The 96 minute film is adapted from the work of Banaphool, the pen name of #BalaichandMukherjee. The cast includes #SadhuMeher and #SuhasiniMulay. #UtpalDutt plays a strict, uptight railway employee in his fifties. He has very strict views on work ethics and discipline. He takes off an absurd bird hunting trip to Saurashtra and interacts with a local younger woman who ends up teaching him some very valuable life lessons!

#UtpalDutt is a true thespian of cinema; here he makes his debut into Bollywood and what an act this is.

Sample that last scene in the office when Shome takes it easy on a truant employee and then lets go in a bizarre, burlesque manner, almost teasing the audience. You cannot figure out if he is the Shome or just being Dutt himself in that scene! But back to #MrinalSen and he brings a host of innovations to the table, inspired by the French new wave cinema. There are plenty of jump cuts, animation, freeze frames and camera moves. The scene where the young woman Gauri (#SuhasiniMulay making her debut) pretends to be the queen sitting on a wing is amazing - it is in fact the camera that zooms in and out and gives you the feeling that she is actually swinging! Cinematographer #KKMahajan provides brilliant support to Sen and #VijayRaghavRao’s music is a nice complement. #MrinalSen also uses the shots of Bengal, #RaviShankar and #SatyajitRay to paint the picture of Bhuvan Shome as the quintessential Bengali babu. And if you see some of the shots of the flying birds, you can see he is contrasting it with the stiff constitution of Shome.

#BhuvanShome is a cult classic that went on to win three National Awards. It also ushered in a welcome change of style into Indian cinema. It addressed issues of loneliness, self-isolation and the rural-urban divide. As I chuckled my way through the black & white movie, I loved it for the simple lesson that it leaves you with - don't take yourself so seriously that you forget to laugh!