Wednesday 11 April 2012

Chorus [1974]

Mrinal Sen made Chorus at perhaps the most creative phase of his filmmaking career (he had just completed his acclaimed Calcutta Trilogy); this movie also marked a gradual transition from his avant-garde and political filmmaking to more traditional forms of storytelling. This trenchant political satire didn’t just comprise of scorching sociopolitical commentary, it also had Sen at his most gleefully wicked, thus reminding us of his earlier masterpiece Interview. The opportunistic Chairman (played by the inimitable Utpal Dutt) of a large corporation has decided to exploit the widescale unemployment among the youth through an act of seeming goodwill. He decides to distribute 3000 forms for that purpose in a show of his compassion, and then randomly select 100 people out of them. But his carefully chiseled plans go haywire as the angry and disillusioned mob manages to look through the company’s false veneer, and mobilizes an ominous and anonymous protest movement that leaves the Chairman and the head of the police department (a pet of the Company) completely flummoxed despite resorting to draconian measures to crush the movement – a disconcerting reference to the urban Naxal revolution. This thread has been interjected with poignant chroniclings of the lives of some of the people who are a part of the huge crowd impatiently waiting in front of the company’s gates. The film begins and ends with brilliantly written songs (sung by the gods, led by Robi Ghosh) that are as ironic as they are acerbic – reminiscent of the unforgettable couplets in Ray’s Hirak Rajar Deshe. The movie abounds in Nouvelle Vague styles like freeze frames, jump cuts, direct addresses to the audience, cinema vérité sequences, and the likes.

Director: Mrinal Sen
Genre: Political Satire/Social Satire/Avant-Garde
Language: Bengali
Country: India

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