Friday, November 19, 2004

A Grain Of Sand: Chokher Bali

"Chokher Bali" is a recent Rituparno Ghosh 's movie adaptation of Tagore's short story. It is a period piece set in undivided Bengal (1902-1905).The subtext "Passion Play" is supposedly the main thread where some complex emotional turmoils are blended together into a single tapestry. Its a tough screenplay to get right and so far the movie seems to do good that way. The movie has this golden tinged filter which gives you that period movie aura.

The story revolves around 5 main characters namely the protoganist Mahendra(Prasenjit), his mother Rajlakshmi,Mahedra's wife Ashalata(Raima Sen), Mahendra's brother Behari and finally the supremely self-willed Binodini(Aishwarya Rai). The movie does injustice to the independence movement part of the play but thats okay.Tagore chose a tumultous time in the Indian history as the background which makes it tough to interpret the subtexts properly.Assumption here is either you read the play or watched the adaptation.

My first response (in the words stolen from Tagore himself) was :

"I am feeling listlessly comfortable and delightfully irresponsible." -Glimpses Of Bengal

Here is the metaphor that I perceived.That of the modern impulsive Mahendra being the manifestation of educated India at the time, Ashalata signifying the teeming simple minded millions in rural India,Mahendra's brother emphasizing the aspects of East Bengal( now Bangladesh!) and Mahendra's mom representing the India before the British Era.That finally leaves Binodini to be face of the british empire and its ambitions. I know this sounds so baseless and random but nevertheless I have fun toying with this idea.Watch it and give it a try. Due Apologies to our "dispenser of wisdom in 'Modern' India" :-)


Anirudh Garg said...

Isnt it in Bengali ? Did the subtitles do justice to the story ?

Paddy said...

I watched it in Hindi actually (rented the DVD).
Have a Good Weekend

Geetanjali said...

What a co-incidence..I saw Chokeher Bali (dubbed in Hindi) myself this week...saw it on Cable, so I have a feeling bits and pieces were missing. I intend to rent out a DVD/VCD so I can see it properly...I found the movie brilliant, even though I hate A.Rai with a vengeance!

Priyanka said...

Just watched it last nite..but i guess quite few scenes were deleted courtesy the morality police in this part of the world. Like Geetanjali says, the movie is good despite Ms.(can't act to save my life) Rai. Pity they chose her. She couldn't do justice to Binodini..
as for whether Ghosh got the subtext rt..i can't comment since i've not read the original work..but even looking at it as just a story of individuals and their choices, its pretty compelling..

Paddy said...

[Gee] Coincidences ae good I suppose.You should go rent the movie and watch it without missing a scene.
(Clue: Name the Rembrandt nude you'll find in Mahendra's House?)

> even though I hate A.Rai with a vengeance!

I am glad that we belong to the same club.I always have to defend my remarks against her.


Hmm..Morality there seems to be kept at 1905 levels.

Yeah! I am glad that I have support in this matter.

Ghosh did justice to whatever he could do in those 3 hours but I just wish that he could have also crammed in the Indie movement too.Just a wish but like you say its compelling..

Thanks Guys

perspective said...

I see you necessarily like to sort of "dissect and understand"...:) Lemme check out the movie.

Paddy said...

[perspective] ..
I think not as much in "dissect" as much as in "deconstruct". Let me know your thoughts on the movie once you are done watching.