Tuesday 23 April 2013

Goynar Baksho (The Jewellery Box) [2013]

Bhuter Bhabishyat, for all its flaws, managed to become a pop-cultural moment for contemporary Bengali cinema. Consequently, one might get a sense of verisimilitude if one isn’t aware of this Aparna Sen film’s nitty-gritties, because, the ghost aspect and the elements of social satire and political commentary apart, they are essentially different films. Adapted from Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s novel, the story, which begins with India’s partition and culminates with Bangladesh Liberation War, is that of an aristocratic family with dwindling feudal fortunes and its attempts to get back on its feet. Rashmoni (Mousumi Chatterjee), who had become a widow at an early age, is the tale’s driving force, even if she isn’t alive for most parts of it. Her obsession with her gold ornaments, which, ironically, she has always been forbidden from publicly wearing, incidentally ends up in assisting not just the financial rehabilitation of the family’s youngest son (Saswata Chatterjee) and his wife (Konkona Sen Sharma), but also, eventually, their daughter (Srabanti Chatterjee) and her friends who become involved in the liberation struggle. The director tried incorporating a plethora of themes into the tale – critique of primitive social customs, a satirical look at feudal mindsets, chronicling of a family’s coping with changing times, etc. However, the film’s best aspect was, undoubtedly, the hilarious foul-mouthed ghost memorably played by Mousumi Chatterjee. The satirical aspects were amusing too, but the political angle ought to have been downplayed, and the subplot on the extra-marital romance stood out as a sore thumb. The narrative, which dragged at times and lacked enough coherence, could have easily been compressed into a more compact script.

Director: Aparna Sen
Genre: Comedy/Social Satire/Romance/Family Drama/Political Drama
Language: Bengali
Country: India

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