Suman Mukhopadhyay’s directorial debut was with an abstract and surrealist novel Herbert written by Nabarun Bhattacharya. The film was applauded for the kind of treatment Suman adapted for the film. Suman’s second film, released recently, is based on Rabindranath Tagore’s CHATURANGA which is basically a study of the situation of women in the society. In his four chapter novel Tagore has created three deaths of three different women of three different statuses. First is, Nanibala, a prostitute. Second is Nabin’s wife, who also committed suicide. And the third is Damini. Tagore has though never written clearly about Damini’s death out of her mysterious chest pain. Suman has shown us the burning body of Damini and Shreebilash watching. Tagore’s Damini had a last wish to go to the sea side, Suman’s Damini possibly died in Calcutta house. Instead we find Sachis is sitting bare bodied in the sea shore watching the Muslim Fakirs in White Pass by.
The three women: Nanibala, Nabin’s wife and Damini died in three different ways but the common thing behind their death is the betrayal by their male partners. Sachis who was in-search of truth, once denying God and then accepting God, could not resist the death of these women.
In Tagore’s novel there are ample scople to imagine the amount mental contradictions Sachis regarding his beliefs. But the when the novel is translated in to film, the director has to clearly “show” us what is happing in the mind of Sachis. Suman’s Sachis is restless, but what is the reason behind his restlessness is not at all clear. And as it is not clear we cannot share his agonies and here the film fails.
Tagore had not reason to explain why Shreebilash follows Sachis blindly, but Suman had no reason to keep the same things ambiguous. There is place of any level of ambiguity in film media.
Through Lilananda Swami there come songs and music in this film. This responsibility is borne by Debajyoti Mishra. But unfortunately Mishra couldn’t create any mystery music for the curies and whispers of the three women in the film. Their pain and sexuality couldn’t become more vibrant through his music.
Major three characters are played by Joy Sengupta (Shreebilash), Subrata Dutta (Sachis) & Rituparna Sengupta (Damini). They acted well according to the script. Suman has given more stress on Damini and her pain and sexuality in his film. But it is debatable that whether Damini is a key character of the narrative. I think is a nothing mere then a character like Nanibala and Nabin’s wife who suffers because of the males like Sachis and others who has no story conviction in their life.
Dhritiman Chatterjee as “Jyathamashai” and Kabir Suman as “Lilananda” rather are the only characters in contrast who has strong convictions and hence they don’t suffer.
This contrast is highly wishing in the film and so it seem Suman is lost totally in understanding the narrative.