Friday, 17 June 2011

36 Chowringhee Lane [1981]

Aparna Sen, who made her debut in the Samapti segment in Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya, and had established herself as a popular face on the silver screen over the next couple of decades, decided to move behind the camera; and boy, did she make a marvelous debut as a director! Adapted from her own story, 36 Chowringhee Lane is the tale of Violet Stoneham (Jennifer Kendal), an ageing and severely lonely Anglo-Indian lady who lives at a squalid apartment block at the titular address in Calcutta, and teaches Shakespeare at a girls’ school. Set over a period of one year, the film follows the unlikely friendship she strikes with Nandita (Debashree Roy), her former student and now a beautiful young lady, and her intellectual but unemployed fiancé Samaresh (Dhritiman Chatterjee). Their accompaniment and youthfulness bring joy and cheerfulness into her drab and uneventful life, oblivious of the couple’s ulterior motives, viz. making use of her apartment when she’s at school. The cycle of happiness, as expected, does come crashing down when one Christmas night, post their marriage, she ends up realizing that she isn’t a part of their life any more – resulting in a powerful and profoundly tragic climax. The lovingly shot and leisurely paced movie boasts of excellent turns, with Jennifer Kendal’s incredible performance being the standout feature in this deeply humanistic film.

Director: Aparna Sen
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama
Language: English/Bengali
Country: India

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