Sunday, November 28, 2004

Sand In the eye !!

Choker Bali

This was a movie I was desperately waiting to see.. and had given up hope of seeing it too... but as luck would have it, PVR multiplex in Forum was airing it and we did not want to miss this chance of watching it... and to top it all this theatre complex had just opened

Movie Review Cast : Aishwarya Rai, Lily Chakrabarti, Raima Sen, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Tota Raychaudhuri Director : Rituparno Ghosh Producer : Shree Venkatesh Films Music: Debojyoti Mishra This film has been adapted from Rabindranath Tagore's Binodini. Directed by the acclaimed director, Rituporno Ghosh, it showcases the emotional pschye of a young and intelligent widow. Ghosh is famous for his take on unusual and interesting topics having women protagonists as the centre of the story. The story is set in the early 1900's with the background of the political resistance occuring during the Bengal partition. It was also a time when Raja Ram Mohan Roy's philosophy and opinions was causing a great stir a among the society of young widows. Widow remarraige was much written about and takled about. The story begins with Rajalakshmi's family which includes son Mahendra his best friend Behari (both studying medical profession) and his aunt Annapurna. Mahendra (Prasenjit Chatterji) is shown to be a typical indulgent man who is not bothered with anything except what is going on in his life and well to certain he has not scruples about getting what he wants. Behari ( Tota Raychaudhuri) on the other hand is the shy kind of man who has good principles and can do anything for his friend and his family. Binodini ( Aishwarya Rai) is a poor but well educated girl. She is from the same village as Raklakhsmi ( Lily Chakrabarti). When her proposal comes forth to for Mahendra he refuses it even after looking at the photograph without much ado and so does Behari. Binodini is then married off to Bipin who dies within a year of their marriage rendering her a young childless widow. Mahendra and Behari go to see a girl for Behari by the name of Ashalata on the urging of Mahendra's aunt, Annapurana. Ashalata is a young and naive girl who charms Mahendra at first glance. Behari is then requested to let the proposal go in favor of Mahendra which he does since he loves his friend a lot. Mahendra, totally oblivious to any form of duties and responsibilities towards himself and his family, gets enmeshed a little too much in the bliss of marital life. Rajlakshmi, Mahendra's mother does not like this usurping of loyalties and in a huff leaves for her village hoping that Mahendra will come after her and get her back. Mahendra does no such thing. Rajalakshmi meets Binodini and realises that she can do a lot for her in the form of helping her around the house and being a good companion. Binodini, a wise woman woos Rajalakshmi with her services and comes along with Rajalakshmi to their house. Here begins the friendship between Binodini and Ashalata. Two women of same generation. One having everything without asking for it and one who having had everything had lost it. Binodini's friendship is tinged with envy and she tries to enjoy Ashalata's marital life vicariously by listening to it and giving her wise advise which sounds very intelligent to the naive Ashalata. They all each other by a pet name "Choker Bali" meaning sand in the eye. Mahendra is not unaware of the charms of Binodini and he wants to meet her. In the pretext of meeting her he organizes a picnic inviting them all and falls for the charms of Binodini. Binodini with ehr sharp tongue and witty conversations captivates both Behari and Mahendra. Mahendra feels jealous of Behari and Binodini plays this weakness to her advantage. Binodini secretly admires Behari and wants him to admire her. Behari being a shy character does not know how to react to her. Widow remarraige is one of the main topics. Along with widow remarraige we also see a lot of concepts which has made the plight of the then widows not less than keeps of rich Zamindars. Not knowing where to go and what was their future they were not asked about in any way and not cared about in any manner by the society. It rankles one that our society could be so ruthless. Mahendra gets attracted to Binodini with the innocent help of Ashalata who pushes both of them together without realising what she was doing. Mahendra being a typical indulgent man does not think twice before starting an affair with Binodini. He becomes obssessed with her and starts an illicit relationship with her. This comes to the fore by accident and Ashalata is very hurt. Binodini runs to Behari and asks him to marry her but Behari refuses her. Binodini's is hurt since she actually wanted to impress Behari. She goes to her village while Ashalata goes to Kashi with her aunt. A desolate Mahendra follows her to her village and proposes to her about living together but Binodini has had enough of him and despises his lack of standing up for himself. She asks him to take her to Behari to Kashi and then go back home. Mahendra is hurt but promises to take her to Kashi. Meanwhile, Rajalakshmi passes on and Ashalata comes back from Kashi pregnant. In Kashi, Binodini has a chance to look at herself and her life. She is full of remorse but she is full of independence and purpose too. She wants to be more than just a widow, more than just a woman with a body. A strong personality... she impresses Behari who proposes marriage to her but when he goes to her with the marriage thali, Binodini is nowhere to be see. She vanishes from the life of all. The treatment of the movie was very good. It was expected coming from Rituporno Ghosh. The lighting of the set and the camera angles are awesome. Bibi Roy, the art director has done a great job in creating the perfect set for that era without missing the minutest detail. The screenplay ...(albeit slow) gives one something to think about. The concept was handled very well and each character was given their full due and no one was subdued for another which I really liked. The sensitivity with which the script has been unfolded can strike a chord within you. I also liked the spattering of humor here and there which lifts the mood of the movie. Music reminded me of the songs that were sung by my mom to be.. songs that I grew up with and it fitted the background perfectly. Of all the characters however, I would have preffered more interaction from Prasenjit who appeared a little flat on his role. Tota Raychaudhuri was great in his role as Behari. Aishwarya proved that even she can shine without an ounce of heavy makeup and a strong story and director. In short if you are a fan of Rituporno Ghosh movies and Rabindranath Tagore novels, you will definitely like this movie but if you like fast movies with nothing to think about, you might as well avoid it. What I did not like about the movie was the modifications made on the story. Like Devdas there were quite a few changes to the storyline here and there... specially the ending which leaves you to make your own conclusion, which kind of surprised me but all said and done you will not be disappointed.


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