Sunday 13 November 2022

Charachar (Shelter of the Wings) [1993]

 Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Charachar – adapted from a Prafulla Roy novel, and made in a phase when he was crafting one acclaimed arthouse film after another – is a tender, understated and poignant parable on the existential crisis of an eccentric, misunderstood man – a misfit and an outsider, like most protagonists in his oeuvre – who’s finding himself unable to reconcile to his livelihood. Lakhinder (Rajit Kapoor), a young and simple guy residing in a tiny hamlet with his wife (Laboni Sarkar), earns his living as a bird-catcher. He spends his days with the middle-aged Bhushan (Sadhu Meher) – whose beautiful teenage daughter (Indrani Haldar) has a soft corner for the dreamy Lakhinder – in uninhabited fields and forests in order to cater to a local dealer. He, however, has developed such a deep love for birds, that he’s finding it increasingly difficult to accept them confined within cages, and hence keeps releasing them. As a result, his debt and therefore impoverishment are constantly on the rise, which in turn has taken his marriage to the brink of collapse, as his intensely frustrated wife has secretly started an affair with another man (Shankar Chakraborty) who bestows gifts on her. As he keeps sliding into an alternate world unencumbered by practical expectations and daily rigmarole, that transition gets permanently sealed upon a trip to Calcutta, in order to sell their birds to another dealer (Manoj Mitra) at a higher price, that ends on a devastating note for this sensitive guy who was already teetering on the edge. The film is filled with marvellously photographed vistas of rural Bengal and a lonesome, poetic atmosphere, thus ironically making it an incredibly benign counterpoint to Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta

Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Rural Drama

Language: Bengali

Country: India

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