April 03, 2013

Kashmakash — Movie Review

A boat ride. A storm. Quickly reminds of The Life of Pi. But no, this is based on Nouka Dubi, a Bengali short story by the master Rabindranath Tagore. I don’t know how good he was in the craft of writing short stories.
But I am willing to bet on a Rituparno Ghosh movie.
The movie starts being predictable with a guy with a “secret” story who is “forced” to marry sort of against his wishes. However, if this movie is about the usual predictable repressed sexuality of Indians, then this is not for me. Of course, these self-imposed restrictions remain to this day.
The film fails to capture the chaos that is India. The pulls and pushes of Indian society which we have to live with today, I believe, were there in those days too.
The overly-shy, teenage rural girl may not entirely be an artifact of the writer’s imagination, but it’s nevertheless un-endearing. The power outages when a storm comes … a reality in India since the early days of electricity.
No. I don’t like this business of wives not taking the names of their husbands. And I don’t like Indians treating sex as something dirty. The sexual instinct is deeply ingrained in us. It predates literacy.
A love triangle. But why hide? When you hide, the secret will tumble out in some unpredictable fashion. At least the guy seems to be an atheist.
Heartbreak leading to musical creativity is such an old trope and sort of difficult to believe.
An old-fashioned sort of love story; too conservative for my taste but perhaps will appeal to love-struck teenagers. I like more complex human drama as depicted in Satyajit Ray’s Charulata.
The movie is sort of slow-moving; I don’t know if that is to do with the requirements of making movies in India. I am not sure if something got lost in translation from the book to the screen.
The movie picks up pace towards the end with a few sudden, unexpected turns.
In conclusion, it’s an eminently watchable movie. It’s in the same class overall as Mani Ratnam’s  Kannathil Muthamittal and also Rituparno Ghosh’s other gripping movie Rain Coat. For comparison purposes, it’s in a different league altogether from the average Bollywood blockbuster.
For those who have faith in the idealized world and characters of the movie, it’s a superlative drama. For the cynical types like me, I can take off my cynic’s hat for a while and appreciate it within its framework and worldview.
And I did.
I have a doubt: how unique or commonplace is this type of short story?

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