What are the best Bengali films to watch?

Satyajit Ray's Pather PanchaliWhen it comes to Indian films I am usually drawn to the easier-to-watch fare produced by the Mumbai-based industry.

A case in point would be the Bollywood film Race 2, which I am currently watching, and then there’s all those Salman Khan films I’ve seen since we got satellite television and the Star Gold channel. 

Nevertheless I always feel that I should be watching more Bengali films as part of my ongoing quest to learn the language.

So I was intrigued by the news last month that the popular IMDb film website had launched a dedicated section for Indian films that promised not just the expected Hindi and Tamil, but also a Top Rated section that would include films in Bengali.

Overall, from 20 Bollywood films to watch in 2017 to memorialising Om Puri it looks pretty interesting.


Sadly it seems its top rated Indian movies list only stretches to about three films in Bengali – all very much the usual suspects, with Pather Panchali (pictured at the top of this post) at number 16, followed by The World of Apu (Apur Sansar) at 32 and Aparojito at 45.

But it did get me thinking about what the next steps in Bengali cinema (often referred to as Tollywood, due being based around the Tollygunge area of Kolkata) might be – particularly if you’ve explored the standouts from Satyajit Ray’s back catalogue and are looking for something a bit more modern.

Some answers to this subjective question can be found on Q&A site Quora and its what are the best Bengali movies of the last decade question. From Baishe Srabon to Autograph to Chokher Bali, there’s a good mix of films I’ve heard of and those that are new to me.

And even IMDb, if you don’t mind digging around a bit, is a bit more helpful than I’d first thought, with a Bengali film chart and a list of the 100 greatest Bengali movies of all time

Looking further afield and there’s quite a few other lists to explore – here and here, for example.

Finally, the always excellent Beth Loves Bollywood does a nice sideline on Tollywood,

(Now to find the time to look into some of these films.)

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