Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

of words: narrative, film and non-fiction

Swapner Din – Lost Tollywood, not Bollywood

Swapner Din (Chased by Dreams) . Will anyone else get to see it?
Tuesday June 19, 2007
swapnerdinIt’s amazing to think how many people contribute to a large film project. The complexity and enormous labors involved in a making just one feature length film for major release is mind-boggling. Then to hear about them just fizzling at the box office, you wonder how those people feel who gave it so much of their time and effort. What must be even more frustrating then a lousy film that deserves to be forgotten is a great film that cannot be released for commercial viewing because of a legal issue. This is the case with this great film, Swapner Din (Chased by Dreams, in English), directed by famed Tollywood master, Buddhabed Dasgupta and produced by Bollywood big fish Jhamu Sughand. It has been shown to great acclaim at Toronto and has won awards in India (The Golden Lotus at the National Film Awards, among others) and at Madrid. The story unfolds in a leisurely, lyrical way; the images are always beautiful, the setting always rich and saturated with color, even for the scenes of greatest poverty. It is steeped in Indian cinematic traditions, but about as far from Bollywood cloy and pose as you can get.

It is a road movie through West Bengal that shows the intertwined lives of three dreamers who face the cruel misfortunes of life along the roads of the India-Bangladesh border. There are some enigmatic scenes, some director’s conceits that don’t really move the story forward at all, but add a level of personal symbolism and uniqueness: the returning squirrel that goes about its business oblivious to the mayhem, the ambush of the policemen, the landlady’s daughter’s infatuation. In a lesser film these would be a distraction that would weaken the cohesion, but here they simply add a level of chaotic life to a truly living cinematic world.

Swapner Din shows Indian cinema at its best, and it is a terrible shame that for the foreseeable future, very few people will get a chance to see it. In India, (as elsewhere) if the producer is not available to sign the contracts, the film goes nowhere but limbo. So where is the producer?

Read a Variety review here

Yes, there’s a Tollywood, – Telugu film industry. There’s also a Kollywood and a Malluwood. India is a big country, after all!

The Tollywood Movie Database

Tuesday June 19, 2007

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May 4, 2009 - Posted by | cinema | ,

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