Rabindranath Revisited – A review of Naukadubi
Bengalis hardly have anything to be proud of except a rich legacy left over by Rabindranath Thakur and the likes of Satyajit Ray. The confluence of the two is sure to create a mesmerising experience. Noukadubi (The Boat Wreck) is a film that brings Tagore back to silver screen, with tenets of Satyajit Ray school of art strewn across the film.
If Chokher Bali was about passion play, Noukadubi explores the emotional quotients of the main characters. “Eki Labonye Punyo Pran” makes way for “Je Raate Mor Duaar Guli”, “Kotobar Bhebechinu” and “Khelaghar Bandhte Legechi” and infuse a soul into the screenplay by Rituparno, which he structured more or less faithfully to the storyline of the original novel.
One would be taken on a memory ride in the scenes featuring Jishu Sengupta. Soumitra Chatterjee from Apur Sansar haunts you and Jishu effortlessly strikes a chord with the audience, his dilemma caught well in his “oh-so-natural” performance. One would marvel at why no one ever thought of making a remake of Charulata with Jishu and Raima in the lead.
A natural disaster changes the course of history. Fate plays an ugly game with four lives, who coincidentally cross each other at intersections of life. Ramesh, Hemnalini, Kamala and Nalinakkho are torn apart by call of duty and the devotion of love. Dialogues become insignificant as subtleties express the emotions. A trifle touching of feet creates a flurry of memories and passion runs high. A man caged by his commitment, a woman trying to accustom herself to the failed pursuit of love, a wife wooing her husband with her sweet nothings and a husband who is wounded but not bruised, the screenplay gives each character the form just like Maa Durga is built out of clay in a month’s time.
Erudite that he is, Rituparno eye for details enrich the three hour long nostalgia. The frequent references to Tagore (so much so that Hemnalini wants to marry Tagore), the “putuler biye” or Bhawal Sanyasi case, add cherry to the already sweet cake.
Raima Sen was Rituparno’s big discovery in Chokher Bali. In Abohoman we saw glimpses of what could be the making of a great actor, in Riya Sen. Sounds incredible but Riya Sen steals the show in Naukadubi. The film belongs to her. The innocent, uneducated village girl played by her becomes more lively with Monali Thakur’s voice over. When she appears in her first scene, lying unconscious in the marshes, the images of Durga, slowly fading away in the tides of Ganges fills the screen. Her silent demeanour and twinkling eyes make up for the incohorent lip sync in other scenes.
Riya Sen is given a run for her money by her sister Raima. An old student of Rituparno’s “gharana”, Raima is adept in her role. Born to be Tagore’s muse, Raima reminds us of her grand mother in all the frames. Her costumes just add to the inherent glamour her family carries. The “sen”sational duo truly sizzle the screen with their protrayal of Tagore’s heroines.
Naukadubi makes you greedy. Expectations now run high with Rituparno’s next film “Chitrangada” which coincidentally is also based on a dance drama penned by Rabindranath. Unlike Chokher Bali which took a bit too many cinematic liberties, Naukadubi appears more matured and balanced. Rituparno is growing with every film, and that shows on screen. But in the end, as Ravi Shashtri would put it, Tagore is the real winner.
Tomaro Ashime, Prano Mono Loye, Joto Dure, ami dhayi…………
Kothao Dukho, kothao mrityu, kotha bichhedo naayii………..