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Cross-cultural exchange: Bengali movies starring actors from Hindi Cinema
Hia Datta
Aug 24, 2021
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Cinema breaks the barriers of language and when it comes to honing the craft of acting, actors of Hindi cinema have tried their hand at language cinema on and off, to explore the cultural milieu and sensibilities of the specific industry. Several of them venture into Bengali cinema to explore great scripts and work with good filmmakers who would allow them to sharpen their acting skills. Bengali cinema is known for producing some of India’s best filmmakers and films. A historically important film industry, it was also once the centre of Indian film production. 

Here are select Bengali films starring actors from Hindi cinema.

1
Bhalo Theko
5.9OTTplay Rating
It is perhaps not well known that Vidya Balan made her debut in films in this 2003 Goutam Halder directorial. Anandi (Vidya Balan) is a sensitive young woman living with her extended family in her ancestral mansion, navigating life through people, their flaws and inadequacies, yet never letting go of the immensity and beauty of life. For she finds catharsis and solace in nature, which is beautifully etched through Humayun Azad’s poem Shuvescha in the end. Though Vidya Balan’s voice was dubbed, the glimmers of her brilliant acting prowess as a Bengali woman are unmistakable in this moving story.
2
Chokher Bali
7.5OTTplay Rating
Renowned filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh brought Rabindranath Tagore’s well-loved novel Chokher Bali on celluloid with this 2003 directorial, featuring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as the educated, enigmatic, beautiful widow Binodini who is tied down by social norms but she decides to break free. Aishwarya’s voice was dubbed, but the gorgeous actress enacted the essence, inner turmoil and the emotions of Binodini quite well, putting up an intelligently nuanced performance. She won the Best Actress award at the Anandalok Awards 2003.
3
Nirbaak
6.3OTTplay Rating
Srijit Mukherji stringed together four different stories exploring different human emotions including affection, lust, jealousy, love and bereavement in this unusual film, tied together through Sushmita Sen’s character. As the literal and figurative centre of attraction in the narrative, playing an author in a relationship with Jisshu Sengupta who is conflicted about her relationship and traverses the entire cycle of life, Sen is convincing and a pretty fit for the role.
4
Antaheen
8.4OTTplay Rating
Human relationships find a startling glimpse in the quagmire of modern-day society in this perceptive National Award-winning film by Anirudhha Roy Chowdhury. Radhika Apte is so natural and charming as the lovely, vivacious and kind-hearted Brinda, a promising television journalist waiting for the love of her life, that you could watch her over and over again without a fret. Her Bengali is on-point and the ease with which she inhabits Brinda lights up the screen. And of course, the arguably career-best compositions by Shantanu Moitra elevate the film to another dimension.
5
Amar Prem
6.4OTTplay Rating
The one and only Bengali movie starring the Darr actor Juhi Chawla, this 1989 Sujit Guha romantic drama became a blockbuster hit. The cliché story of boy-meets-girl and they fall in love but only to encounter parental disapproval was lent a fresh pairing with fan-favourite Prasenjit Chatterjee as Shubho and Juhi Chawla as Deepika. Juhi Chawla exudes her characteristic charisma and bubbly onscreen persona as the girl in love, in tune with the commercial elements of the film. She delivered her dialogues in Bengali without a hitch.
6
Biyer Phool
6.5OTTplay Rating
Talented actor Rani Mukherjee made her debut in this cult classic romantic family drama that is reminisced fondly to date for its melodious songs and the performance of the cast. Based on the Tamil blockbuster Pelli Sandadi, the plot was tweaked to Bengali sensibilities, with Rani’s Mili Chatterjee at the centre of a love triangle, paired opposite Prosenjit Chatterjee’s Atanu Mukherjee. Rani is endearing and stunning as Mili, who is full of life and falls head over heels for Atanu. That she had the makings of a good commercial heroine as well as a good actor all along, comes through clearly through her performance.

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