A few years ago Suman Mukhopadhyay made his film directorial debut with Herbert which bagged several awards in National and International festivals. Through this film he questioned the all pervasive dominative mindset of the mainstream of all spheres. He opened up a plethora of pent up emotions, questions and actions that always lurk below the surface of our existence, with a brilliantly satiric but gloomy artistry. Through his other endeavors theatre like “Tista Parer Brityanta” or “Agunmukho”, he brought the question of endangered identity to the fore; he also questioned the constant preparedness for imminent destruction and the mistrust it generates.
However, for his latest venture “Chaturanga” which is based on an extremely complex novel by Tagore, subjectivity may be the keyword. His tremendous involvement in almost all aspects of his creation some how evokes an inspiring interaction with the spectators. The characters don’t form the components of the greater design, with rather assemble it themselves. But still, this film lacks the depth and poignancy of “Herbert”.
The protagonist “Shachish” (Subrata Dutta) fleets from radical positivism to religious mysticism in his quest for the meaning of life. But his search fails and brings in disillusionment. He cannot square his abstract ideas with the mysterious pathos of “Nanibala” and “Nabiner bou”, both of whom committed suicide. “Damini” (Rituparna Sengupta), the Hindu widow is in love with him, but he can accept her only without her passion for life and sexuality. “Sreebilash” (Joy Sengupta) loves and admires his friend “Shachish” so much that he cannot leave him in spite of the disgruntlement with his fanatic and histrionic confusion and indecisiveness. Despite knowing her love for “Shachish”, “Sreebilash” marries “Damini” to make her happy. The psychodrama ends with the death of “Damini”.
Subrata Dutta, as the dynamic “Shachish”, disappoints completely. He cannot even manage his hands. Rituparna is good but her expressions are getting too repetitive. Joy Sengupta should be the reason people go watch this movie. He is completely natural as a sensitive and helpless “Sreebilash”. There are many arresting visuals by Indranil Mukherjee’s camera like “Damini” walks with the injured eagle, greenish blue small glass-balls roll on the floor etc. Debajyoti Mishra’s music score high marks. He successfully experiments with Sufi Songs, Tagore songs, Kirtan, Baul and Tushu songs. “Matir Buker Majhe Bandi Je Jol Miliye Thake…” sung by Kabir Suman is mesmerizing. Kabir Suman (Lilananda Swami) and Dhritiman Chatterjee (Uncle) both deliver powerpacked performances. Sujan Mukherjee (Purandar) and Manashi Sinha (Nabiner Bou) add so much with their bit roles.
Suman allows his characters room to breathe, to flesh out their characters with inflections. But, he cannot, or safely put, could not interpret various enigmatic traits of Tagore’s literature into cinematic mode, just like Rituparno Ghosh in the case of “Chokher Bali”. That’s why “Chaturanga” merely becomes a rich tapestry of crisscrossing desire, morality, reason and unreason.
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