This is for the first time director Aparna Sen has tried with someone else’s story for her feature film. Her latest release “The Japanese Wife” is based on an English story of the same name by Kunal Bose. The film is in Bengali, in spite of that Mrs. Sen has kept the title of her film same.
Till date the basic theme-line of all the films of hers, was unequal friendship. In “36 Chowringhee Lane”, The unequal friendship was between an old Anglo-indian teacher and her young student and her fiancé. In “Parama” it was between the wife of an orthodox Bengali family with a young America-based photographer. In “Paromitar Ekdin” it was between Paromita and her aged mother in Law. In “Mr. & Mrs. Iyer” it was between an orthodox Tamil Brahmin married woman and a Muslim Journalist. In “15 Park Avenue” it was between two sisters.
Kunal Bose’s story has the same theme of unequal friendship. Here the friendship is between a petty school teacher of Sunderban Snehamoy and a Japanese woman Miagi. They don’t understand each other’s language. Their Friendship, rather “Pen-friendship”, Grew through letters, & telephone calls in peculiar Bengali-English.
Snehamoy (Rahul Bose) is an introvert guy. He only communicates with his Pishi (Moushumi Mukhopadhyay) who lives with him and his pen friend in Japan, Miagi. Miagi lives in Yakohoma. She lives with her ailing mother and a small dog “Haiku”, gives by her brother. Sandhya (Raima sen), the daughter of Pishi’s friend, come to Snehamoy’s house. Pishi wants Sandhya to be married with Snehamoy. But Miagi, in her letter says that instead Snehamoy could marry her. Snehamoy through hesitant initially, but agreed. Miagi send him a wedding ring and in return Snehamoy sends her “Saankha” and “Sindur”. They got married thus. And since them they carry their marital status for long 17 years without seeing each other, without meeting for once.
The 100 minute love-poem written by Aparna on celluloid is based on basically unique screenplay, brilliant acting by all major and minor characters, extraordinary cinematography which captures the minutest mood shifting of the characters and change of nature from season to season, minimalistic music and editing.
In all the Aparna films, the story ends with the end of the friendship. This happens in different ways. In “Paromita Ekdin”, the friendship ends with the death of the mother in law, in “Sati”, the unequal friendship between the dumb girl and the banyan tree end with the death of the girl. Here also death becomes the means of ending the relationship, the friendship between Snehamoy and Miagi.
After knowing Miagi being attacked by cancer, Snehamoy starts moving from door to door of doctors for medicine which might cure Miagi. But doing so, one day he was caught in storm and heavy rain. His mind was also broke. He becomes ill and never recovered. One night he died in the arms of Sandhya.
Miagi, the widow in while comes from Japan for the first time in Sunderbans to visit her husband’s house. There she confronts Sandhya, another widow in white. They don’t know each other’s language. Sandhya takes Miagi to Snehamoy’s room. Miagi Surprises seeing that Snehamoy’s room is like mini-Japan decorated by the gifts sent by Miagi is last seventeen years.