Over the past few decades, the Bengali youth has come a long way – from the rebellious 1970s to the tech-savvy Gen Y of today.
The debate over East Bengal and Mohun Bagan may have been taken over by Man-U versus Chelsea, and the debate over “Teen Paisa r Pala”, “Parashuram” or “Ray” may have been taken over by “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos”.
But while the elements of the debate may have changed, the argumentative Bengali youth essentially continues to remain true to their original nature. And Cinema continues to occupy a significant and sensitive part of their hearts and minds.
Historically, the educated Bengali youth remained allergic to mainstream Bengali cinema. This has not changed over the years.
The exposure to World Cinema was, and still is, an extremely dominating factor as far as this youth of Bengal was concerned.
Earlier the main vent for this youth to satisfy their cinematic-urge was at the international film festivals and the special screenings at the consulates, which were gobbled up like an exam assignment. Today, the world is just a click away and world cinema is in their palms.
This exposure has helped develop a certain taste for quality cinema which has no language. This has also inspired filmmakers, who were once Bengali youth themselves, to make good cinema.
We are talking here about an audience that looks beyond the stars and into the technical aspects of a film. They may not be students of film studies, but they are enthusiasts with a deep love for technically-sound cinema. That has not changed over the years.
The commercial fare of Tollywood was looked down upon by these Bengali youth; and in many cases, for the right reasons. The same goes for Bollywood. While there may be an audience amongst the so-called Bengali youth who are star-crazed, a large chunk does think otherwise.
For them, there is perhaps apathy for popular commercial cinema where the “star” plays the major role and the “cinema” takes a backseat.
Cinema, in any language – Bengali, Hindi, English, French, Japanese or any other – has to appeal to the Bengali youth for the sheer quality of its story, script, cinematography, music, production quality and the like – all those pieces that fit into a the whole called “quality cinema”.
For this quintessential Bengali youth, cinema will always be agnostic of star, language, boundary and suffix of “wood”.
By Mahul Brahma; Author of Decoding Luxe, he is a columnist, luxury commentator, former journalist & heads communications for a TATA Group company. He is also an actor & filmmaker. His first film as an actor Elixir was selected for screening at the Cannes Film Festival and his short-film as a director PostIt! was screened at multiple international film festivals. His latest film as an actor Hoyto Manush Noy is releasing soon