I am excited to announce that Angel Digital, the entertainment company that among other things distributes good quality new and old Bengali films on DVD, now has a YouTube channel! They have uploaded countless black-and-white Bengali films (and some more recent ones too) and the vast majority have English subtitles even on the songs! I've always felt like Bengali films are harder to find information or videos of on the web (similar to Kannada films), so this is a stellar development! Actually knowing what characters are saying or singing makes film viewing all the more enjoyable. :) Angel keeps adding more videos each week, so the collection requires constant checking to see what's new. They also appear to be also trying out a pay-per-view option on some of the films for $1.99, but these are in the minority.
Despite YouTube's annoying "load more" button, I've had so much fun visually browsing through all of Angel's uploads avidly scouting for any dances. I don't think anything can top Roshan Kumari's Kathak dance in Jalsaghar (1958). Angel has of course uploaded the entire film with subtitles, and the print is lighter and has less shadows then the other versions online. Here's the Kathak dance in all it's glory:
While I wasn't able to find any dances that can remotely compare to Jalsaghar's, I did find some interesting ones to share:
I think this song from Jamalay Jibanta Manush (1958) is the only time I've seen South Indian dance attempted in a Bengali film. It's not very good, but the dancer is clearly going for semblances of Bharatanatyam in her choreography and costume.
Helen's cabaret performance as Madhumati, the famous dancer from Bombay, in Kalankito Nayak (1970). (She can also be seen in Gali Theke Rajpath, but no subs unfortunately!) Edit: This is not Helen, but Madhumati (see comments)!
Bhalobhasa Bhalobhasa (1985) features a very short but graceful stage performance in this song- I really wish it had been developed and longer!
Mujra performances abound in classic Bengali films, at least from what I saw of Angel's collection! I found a bunch of seated Mujra's, such as this "twin" one in Antariksha (1957), the one in Mahabiplabi Arabindo (1971) or Dui Purush (1978), and the standing active kind can be seen in Sanyasi Raja (1975).
"Ghir Aaye Kari Badri" from Aalor Pipasa (1965) features a very a sweet mujra performance.
Kishore Kumar's "Sing Nei Tobu Nam Tar Singho" from Lukochoori deserves a watch simply to see the hilarious English translations for the subs! "Stunned moo... moo! right right right right!"
I'm looking forward to browsing through the films and hope to find some gems (and see more of the famed work of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen). I was especially surprised to find the 1932 Bengali film Chandidas with subtitles! If anyone finds some good clips, do share!