The understated palette, languorous pacing, and moody poetic realism in Dasgupta’s haunting and eloquent film Tahader Katha, were strikingly counterpointed with its bristling undercurrents of fury. It formed a fitting companion piece to the director’s next work Charachar, in that the protagonists of both films were fragile and eccentric outsiders – a disillusioned and tormented former freedom fighter, and a passionate bird-lover, respectively – who’re at complete odds with the society for being square pegs in round holes. Shibnath (Mithun Chakraborty), finally released upon India’s independence after having spent eleven years in prison during the British Raj, has been left utterly broken both physically and psychologically – he even spent three years in a mental asylum and still carries the ravaging scars of PTSD – on account of relentless torture, harsh conditions and solitary confinement. Further, the horrors of partition – during which his wife (Anashua Mujumdar) and kids who were forced into becoming refugees from East Bengal – and the pervading human corruption that he witnesses as he’s finally reunited with his family – manifested in particular by his former comrade Bipin (Dipankar De) who trumpets himself as a great patriot in his efforts to become an elected politician, despite minimal contributions – leaves him angry, cynical and disenchanted… so much so, that he alienates everyone around him and withdraws into a melancholic shell. Buoyed by Mithun’s alternatively muted and ferocious turn, and the sublime portrayal of rural Bengal – through long takes, gentle pans, sublime vistas and disarming 360-degree camera turns – its circular arc reminded me of Angelopoulos’ devastating tour de force Voyage to Cythera, where too a former rebel finds himself stranded in an alien land upon returning home after many years in political exile.
Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Existential Drama