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………..

About Agnivo Niyogi

Typical Aantel, reader, blogger, news addict, opinionated. Digital media enthusiast. Didi fanboi. Joy Bangla!

Posted on May 21, 2011, in Art, film. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. well done agni….. great justice 2 the film…


  2. well done agnivo. darun likhecho… film ta dekhar proti agroho aro bere gelo. thanks for a lovely review.


  3. 1. Bengalis, even if you are clannish, have many more things to be proud of beyond Tagore and Ray. If you are not aware, you hardly qualify as a Bengali. You can at the most be referred to as “the steroetypical, kuyor byang” which Bengalis are referred to by most Indians. And they are right. I suggest that you better be not one of those “Bengalis”.
    2. As a film, I have no comment about Noukadubi. My personal opinion, Tagore notwithstanding, it’s not one of the best by Tagore. Not anywhere near to Chokher Bali as a novel. I would request you to watch a Black and White film, directed by Ajoy Kar, made in the ’70s. Just watch the film and then you would probably rewrite what you wrote.
    3. There had always been a tendency to say what “i believe would be liked by most”. Fair enough. But there are other ways of looking at things. One of them is “i don’t care what others think, but this is what I believe”. And Bengalis were known for that. Once upon a time. Why not now?
    4. A very basic question. If Bengali/Indian films were that great, why do you think we have not been able to make it at important International festivals? Why is it that we debate about National Awards only? Do you know that the last Indian film entry at competition section in Cannes was ion 1984? That film was Kharij. Why is it that International Festivals (barring a few films of Buddhadeb Dasgupta) always “kharij”ed Bengal? Just because Bengal stuck to Ray and Tagore and remained kuyor byang?
    5. Very blatantly put. You have the answers?


  4. Firstly, I havent watched Noukadubi yet.. hence can neither say “I believe I will like it” OR “I Believe most others will like it”.. All I can say is, being a lover of art films and a sucker for the Rituparno Ghosh brand of cinema, I’m hopeful that I will like it.
    Secondly, Chokher Bali might have been an outstanding work of cinema, but it definitely isn’t the best of Tagore’s novels. And for the record, Tagore was probably the most weak when it came to being a novelist. He was unparalleled when it came to short stories, plays and poems. But his novels are comparatively less successful and acclaimed. To add to that, whatever has been translated in celluloid has always been.. what the directors claim… “loose adaptations” or “inspired by” Tagore’s actual work, which is fair enough.
    Thirdly, If I happen to like something, be it a film, a book, a song, a food item or any damn thing in this world, I have enough courage to stand by it, alone (if required) and say that I like it. And I don’t give a damn what others have to say about it. Same holds true if I dislike or hate something. The world can shower heaps of praises on it, but I won’t, just for the heck of “belonging” to the herd! So I guess, I can pride myself on STILL having that Bengali gene in me.
    Fourthly, the feeling that Bengal has only two heroes – Tagore and Ray – has been injected by the world in us. Unfortunately, we have been naive and senseless to have bought that theory. And our own people back home have done precious little to change that ingrained perception in us. We are NOT a state deprived of heroes/legends/geniuses, but we ARE a state deprived of national & international eulogy of these heroes/legends/geniuses. The day every li’l deed of a Bengali makes headlines in foreign newspapers, Bengal will no longer be a state starved of heroes.
    Lastly, I don’t have answers why Bengal is ignored at the international film festival circuit. To put it crassly, Bengal doesn’t have the right clout and lobby to make its presence felt at these places. No matter how hard you try to convince yourself, that it is the quality of the film, that fetches you awards and acclaim, it IS much more than that just what goes into the film. One needs ‘manage’ in equal measure, if not more, the outside aspects of the film. Ask Aamir Khan today.. and he will tell you, “The next time I make it to the Oscar, I will surely win it. I was ‘unprepared’ in 2001, when Lagaan was selected”


  5. khub bhalo description by sohini.
    but subrata da je question gulo tulechhe, seta kichu bhul nah, amra Rabindranath r Satyajit chara r kichu ki niye gorbo kori?
    but amader rajye toh gorbo korar moton amon onek kichui achhe… tai noy ki??


  6. Ami kori. Ami Netaji niye gorbo kori.. Khudiram Bose niye kori.. Soumitra Chattopadhyay niye kori.. Sourav Ganguly niye kori.. Sunil Gangopadhyay niye kori.. Rituparno Ghosh niye kori.. Amartya Sen niye kori.. Aro onek ke niye gorbo kori.. Bangalr protyek ti manush, jader modhye ki sanghatik protibha .. tader sokol ke niye gorbo kori.. Ashakori, aagami din-ey Mamata Bandopadhyay ke niyeo korte parbo..


  7. Sohini has by and large reiterated what I had to say about Bengalis. I differ with her on Tagore’s novels and also Bengali cinema in general. I am a great fan of Tagore’s novels, knowing fully well that they don’t fall in the genre of “classical” novels, which used to be the order of the day then. “Chokher bali” and “Gora” had been my all-time favourite.
    That Bengal has only two heroes -Tagore and Ray – was never injected by the world in us. On the contrary, that is what we have made out to the world. Tagore is the ethos of Bengal, but it’s not true that he’s held as the most famous Bengali anywhere in the world. Tagore is not much read beyond Bengal and is more than forgotten. I see no signs of the world injecting Tagore on us. Ray? Not sure.
    When we, being Bengalis, think we have only two icons, I have a problem. Probably the Bengali, who thinks this way, doesn’t know the world much.
    Regarding Ray, I just want to make one point clear. Ray is a “package” to a Bengali. In that package come his films, his Feluda and Shonku and many other things. Just as a filmmaker? Well… many filmmakers all over India are more influenced by Ghatak than Ray. And yes, Ghatak was not a “classical” filmmaker. His films were like Tagore’s novels, severely away from the classical form.
    Personally, I am not a great fan of Rituporno Ghosh. Maybe, because I’m not much interested in his “classical” form. And probably this this the answer to your query, when you say, “I don’t have the answers (to) why Bengal is ignored at the international film festivals”.
    Blaming it on “lobby” is easy. Everyone does that. But you might take a look from a different perspective. Most of you compare Rituparno’s work with Ray. Rituparno himself does that. But is being “equal” to Ray enough?
    Every art form evolves. In form, in contemporariness. The language of expression in Art changes. In literature, in painting, in cinema too. Ray’s language, is old. Of the ’50s. Often referred to as “neo-realism” as we all Ray-experts know by now. Modern cinema has outgrown that language or style.
    “Sonar Tari” is a great poem. No doubt about it. But tell me honestly, will any Bengali literary magazine publish a “Sonar Tari” if it were written at this age? No way!
    Similarly, why would an International Film Festival accept a film, which, in style and form, ought to have been done 50 years ago?


  8. I read the post with great concentration for couple of times and tried to accept few points been told about Bengalis. Let me at the outset made it clear that I haven’t seen Noukadubi yet and love to see Rituparno Ghosh films.
    We Bengalis somehow never bothered to think and admire people who are not Tagore and Ray, though there were ample of iconic Bengalis there, in the past, whome we could have merrily followed. Just to remind few of the names, I could recall the names like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyen Bose, Meghnad Saha, Sunil Ganguly, Amartya Sen (sorry, I’ve missed many more). These names are also acclaimed International recognitions for their work and domain, but in-spite of that we shielded our focus to Tagore and Ray only.
    Unfortunately we never thought why we did so?
    In my opinion, not of all the work of Tagore or Ray are of absolute excellence. With my due respect to Tagore and Ray and their work of art and with the fact that I, myself a big fan of Tagore’s work and Ray’s films; I always believed we Bengalis have shown a very liberal attitude towards them than any other authors, poets, painters or film makers. This might be for reasons beyond my understanding.
    Secondly, the way Tagore wrote or Ray made films, were not understood properly by most of us. We see their success and awards but never understood their pain to create their work of art and excel in their own domain. We tried to believe writing a piece of poetry or a novel or making a film is the easiest job in the world and anyone willing to do can do it. We tried to be Tagore or Ray, forgetting the fact we can never be like them. Our love for their works made our thinking further limited. We don’t want to think beyond the works done by them and keep trying to clone what they have made.
    It doesn’t hold true that we all have reached to the zenith of human creativity and left with no option to create something new and unique. In fact in this process of blind following and shameless try to clone of Tagore and Ray’s work, we’ve blocked our own vision to look beyond them and think beyond them.
    If I took the post as review of Noukadubi, I would rate the writing somewhere in higher quotients however, I still believe we must think beyond Tagore and Ray and make some good adaptation of works from other great authors and most importantly try to create our own signature than keep replicating “Satyajit Ray school of art”.


  9. i agree with what subrata da has said… we may recall and list here several bengali iconic names but do we really celebrate them as much as we do when it comes to Tagore or Ray?? I believe Ghatak’s films were as great as Ray’s..then why is he not remembered, watched or discussed as much… I had enjoyed reading Sukanto and Jibanananda Das more when I was young… But ask me about their birth dates and I wouldn’t be able to recall…

    More comments once I watch Noukadubi in a day or two


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