This weekend was spent with family and had two wonderful encounters with the finely crafted cinema of Rituparno Ghosh: Antarmahal and Nauka Dubi.
Family is my refuge from the rest of the world. In the time spend with the family, certain other non-issues become paramount, that isolates me for a while from the world of the written word, and its push and pulls, compromises, dictates, job requirements and requirements that are not professional, stress that comes from fending for the obvious.
Antarmahal is inspired by Tarashankar Bandhopadhyay’s novel Pratima and Nauka Dubi by Rabindranath Tagore’s short story. They are finely crafted movie with great eye for details. The early twentieth century Bengal comes alive in these movies. There is a kind of celebration happening, there is pomposity yet sedate. The idea is not to ridicule the era, but higlight the conflict between modernity of thought with actions that are based on the long held traditions that were stifling, unjust and dehumanising; was clearly portrayed.
The socially vulnerable, larger than life characters in the films were strong individuals. There was melodrama and romanticism, like an art form, in the way sets were designed, frames were captured, the postures of the characters. I thought Rituparno has great understanding of woman as a form and how best it can be captured in the camera. The windows were used with great adroitness, and the light or lack of it.
The good thing was that despite having to read subtitles, I could feel the emotions portrayed and their nuances as well. I liked that script of both the films: tight and tacit. Long pauses, body gestures, bit of humour, light and shadows, frames all added to a picture that was so clear in what it wants to say.
Rituparna has eye for details. The tall bed with post, chair, rural Bengal, and culturally proud yet anglicised Calcutta, scraped walls, curtains, lamps, window and scenes outside window, gust of breeze, lamps, pond, courtyard, maid-consort, jewellery, bindi, indoors and outdoors was spot on. He is the new Cultural Tsar from India.
The strongest point of his movies is the meticulous research, and I am sure he is versatile too. In the two movies I have seen so far there is a strong Rituparno signature, but I have to see more of his movies to know whether he can get out of his own mould in terms of telling a story. Next on the agenda is Last Lear. He is a fantastic filmmaker and I would want him to try make movies outside the Bengal construct, say eastern Uttar Pradesh or western Punjab or for that matter in Tamil or Telgu.
In the interactive session, he said something interesting, he now wants to make a movie on a story that can only be told via cinema as a medium. He is very capable of it. Meanwhile, characters of his movie are still playing in my mind long after the movie is over.