Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Akash Kusum (Up in the Clouds) [1965]

Akash Kusum acted as a trend-breaker in the filmography of Bengali auteur Mrinal Sen, the staunch Marxist who is known principally as a maker of ‘angry films’ and avant-garde movies with strong socio-political overtones, as this was a rare romantic comedy that found place in his oeuvre. But it did have potent observations and commentaries delicately garbed in its seemingly lighthearted tragi-comic tale. The story revolves around a young man (marvelously played by Soumitra Chatterjee), belonging to the lower middle class strata, who wants to make it big in his life through a decidedly risky business venture with a shady but docile looking partner (Jnanesh Mukherjee). He takes help of his wealthy childhood friend (Subhendu Chatterjee) to maintain a false visage for his clients. And when he gets involved in a romantic affair with a cheerful young lady (Aparna Sen), who belongs to an upwardly mobile family and whose father (Haradhan Bannerjee) is an established advocate, he continues maintaining that false image by making use of his friend’s car and apartment in order to project himself as belonging to the same economic league. It worked as a fine precursor to some of his later movies, like Interview and Chalchitra, in that Sen used a number of Nouvelle Vague techniques, like jump cuts, freeze frames and a freewheeling narrative, to tell this breezy love story that is destined to be doomed. In an ingenious move, he used still photographs at regular intervals to capture the mood as well as to move the story forward, and the final shot had multiple freeze frames. The movie, which was remade into the Hindi film Manzil by Basu Chatterjee, boasted of fine all-round performances and a very good script.

Director: Mrinal Sen
Genre: Comedy/Romantic Comedy
Language: Bengali
Country: India