“The creator of exquisite taste!” – Kudos to film reviewer Venkatesh Chakraborty

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Renowned film critic Venkatesh Chakraborty passes away. After hearing the news of his demise, many film and literature enthusiasts are publishing their tribute notes. From those…

A. Ramasamy:The one to think about is the Emperor. Rather than calling him a film critic, he should be called a teacher who continued to teach cinema. I have been to many of the film tasting classes he has taught. The first meeting was at the “Indian Medical College Hall” near Madurai Medical College. He had come there on Rajan’s invitation to the cinema tasting class conducted by Riyasha. Pritam knew the emperor before that. I have seen it in Pariksha’s plays.

He was a great teacher and mentor for those who studied cinema depending on the academic field. I have often conflicted with his narratives and interpretations. He has shown that he has often disagreed with the film reviews I write. We have debated back and forth in seminars on cinema.

The last time I saw him and the film was when he was screened by Amuthan’s Repakam organization at Periyar Centre, a documentary about Chennai directed and produced by him. The name of the movie is Chennai: The Divided City. This is the note he wrote about the film at the time:

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Chakraborty’s Chennai shows the developing city of Chennai not expanding equally in all directions but swelling with industrial centers in the south and west. South Chennai is mostly spread out as IT parks. Are the people of Chennai who will benefit from the development of heavy industries starting in areas like Ambattur and Aavadi along with old industrial estates and on Chengalpattu and Sriperumbudur roads? It also raises the question of Also, North Chennai, which has been turned into a garbage dump of the city, also speaks of the politics of being prevented from achieving expansion/development.

Looking at the total divide in economic terms, this documentary shows the city of Chennai struggling to maintain the celebrations and days dedicated to religious identities. It is, in a way, Venkatesh Chakraborty’s Chennai. The visuals of the film were the vision of a person who has lived in Chennai for half a century and has wandered through the city’s roads, happening spaces and leisure areas.

I am not a Chennai resident like him. Always a guest of Chennai. My first trip to Chennai was in 1982. It was for an interview for a government job. Since then I have been coming every year. I have stayed here day and night for almost a week. At that time, I see signs that the people of Chennai city and South Tamilnadu villages keep telling us that we too have a share in this city. Cultural symbols continue to be expressed in fixed scenes, moving images and ceremonies. Even so, Chennai: remains a divided city.

As if it were arranged in images, it can be searched in the long fiction of Pudumaipitthan, Jayakanthan, Jayanthan, S. Kandasamy, Ashokamithran, Thilakavathy, Sujatha, Dilipkumar, and recently S. Ramakrishnan, Jayamohan, Aravindan, Vinayakamurugan, Karan Karki, Lakshmisaravanakumar, Saravanan Chandran. Such a study will show another dimension of Chennai.

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Griefing over the emperor’s demise, Pritam is unable to console the emperor. Deepest condolences.”

Indran Rajendran: “Memories of Venkatesh Chakraborty, who critically taught me how to understand each of cinema’s classic works of art, fill me with memories of him. Balu Mahendra got the first copy of my book “Satyajit Ray — Cinema and Art” to be published at Jayakanthan Cultural Centre. Venkatesh Chakraborty, who delivered a wonderful critical speech on Satyajitre at the function, which was attended by Urvashi Archana and painter Veera Santhanam, impressed me in many ways. Time scares me that paying homage will become a full-time job.”

Yamuna Rajendran: “Such is life. Such is life. Respecting Venkatesh Chakraborty for his film reviews and considering his genius, I sent him a friendly invitation and befriended him. For me this is an exception. Completely unexpected by me, on Jayamohan’s behalf, he offended me with unnecessary harshness. I asked him to tell me the reason. He kept silent. I reacted strongly by hanging up. Would that have offended him? I don’t care to know that. Now he is not. If I had seen him again, I would have smiled with a friendly smile. This is how life should be lived. I will be reading a volume of his essays for a while today. My humble tribute to his genius.”

Dayalan Shanmukha: “Venkatesh Chakraborty is a mentor to many in cinema. I have fought with him many times with strong contradictions. But never appreciated enmity. It is very shocking. deep condolence.”

Suresh Kannan: “I hear that Venkatesh Chakraborty, a multi-talented film analyst, editor and critic, has passed away. One of his articles was very motivating for me to approach cinema seriously in my youth. Grieving the loss of a predecessor occurs. My sincere tribute to him.”

Rajaiah David: “It was very sad when Pratap Bothan died on 15th of Kadanath. I was looking back at his film career journey through songs through interviews. Another tragedy today. The mind refuses to accept that Venkatesh Chakraborty is gone today. I have personally listened to his film commentary.

Here he best understood the approach to the art of filmmaking. He was a professor in several film schools. I have asked him for books and information on film making. The mass media will pass this off as news.

Even his wife’s post yesterday was about her father’s death. Even Pratap Bodhian instilled philosophical theories about death before death. These losses are unbelievable. Sad demise of Mr. Venkatesh Chakraborty. Condolences and love to his family.”

Amuthan Ramalingam Pushpam: “Mr. Venkatesh Chakraborty was very involved in film studies and education. He also contributed in the fields of philosophy and psychology. He has been a special invitee in the film festivals and training workshops we conducted in Madurai and Trichy. He has always forgiven our inadequacies and supported us with love.

When he was the head of the LV Prasad Film College in Chennai, he invited me and screened my films. When my documentary on the Kudankulam struggle was screened at the Central University of Hyderabad – where he was then working at the Rama Naidu Film College – Venkatesh Chakraborty traveled a long way to watch the film. Participated in the discussion. That night he served a sumptuous meal at his home.

Venkatesh Chakraborty is kind. I can still hear him asking, ‘What?’

Independent thinker. Harsh critic. He was very firm in his principles. That is why he was not in a stable job or in a stable financial position for a long time.

For the past fifteen years, he has been the head of Rama Naidu Film College, LV Prasad Film College and Shivaji Ganesan Film College.

I was introduced to Chakraborty through my Madurai friends Sundar Kali, Babu, Lokhu and Subhagunarajan. I remember meeting Chakraborty at a Periyar seminar held by friends in the early nineties. I remember when we took a bus from Madurai to a seminar organized by Pera A Marx on mass cinema in Kumbakonam, where Venkatesh Chakraborty read his essay.

20 years ago he picked me up from Thiruvanmiyur bus station in his Kinetic Honda, had dinner at his home and shared many political and cultural matters for a long time. A person who can be treated with respect regardless of age…”

Mohammad Shafi: A great and irreparable loss to mass Tamil cinema criticism. Starting with Bharathiraja films..Raskutty Devarmagan…Can we talk about caste in cinema?..What did Manvasan films do against casteism… Dravidian movement is a social movement.. Mani Ratnam’s duo… Changing Tamil cinema and its Hindu reflection… Kabali is a history. The mind that wrote so many deep articles on research… has stopped thinking today..
On behalf of the friends of Madurai Research Circle, I offer my deepest condolences.”

Karuna Prasad: “ Fondly called as ‘Chucks’, Mr. The news of the Emperor’s demise is deeply saddened. He was a pioneer among the cinema educators who created a refined taste in the environment of Tamil cinema, which was full of dirty taste. He spoke about the unenlightened people and their lives. In his speeches and writings he stressed the need for a socially responsible cinematographer. There are no words to comfort Pritam, Malavika and Samyukta who are missing him.”

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