Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Moner Manush (Quest) [ 2010]

Bengali auteur Goutam Ghose took an extremely challenging task by deciding to portray the life and thoughts of iconic folk (Baul) singer Lalon Fakir in his latest film. This was the man who proved to be a huge inspiration for India’s greatest litterateur Rabindranath Tagore himself, and formed the basis for quite a few of Tagore’s compositions. Yet, despite his legendary standing in Bengal, a major portion of his life is shrouded in mystery and word-of-mouth, thus requiring Ghose to do enormous research to get the story as close to reality as possible. Two distinct strands have been chosen to chronicle Lalon’s story. The ‘present’ deals with a winding, music-filled discussion (‘adda’) between Jyotirindranath Tagore (Priyanshu Chatterjee), Tagore’s elder brother, and an aged Lalon, that took place a few months before the singer’s death. The ‘past’ is brought forward through elaborate flashback sequences covering how a poor, simple and music-loving young man, is taken under the wings of a respected Baul-singer, and his journey through mysticism and personal challenges that finally convince him that religious dogma and societal norms are ephemeral and ultimately meaningless. The movie’s slow pace, deeply philosophical tone and digressive plot might be off-putting to many, but there’s no denying its place in the pantheon of remarkable works of art. And Prosenjeet Chatterjee didn't just undergo a complete physical transformation for portraying the protagonist, he also gave a fascinating performance that must be seen to believe. Stunning cinematography, a slew of fascinating songs of Lalon, and lilting flow of the script, unfold complex conversations and ideologies that were as ground-breaking and universal then as they are now.

Director: Goutam Ghose
Genre: Drama/Musical/Rural Drama
Language: Bengali
Country: India

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