Movie Review – Rajkahini by Srijit Mukherjee
It would be audacious to say that I have mustered the courage to actually write a ‘review’ of Rajkahini. For a mere mortal with hardly any understanding of cinema, critiquing a masterpiece like this would bring to fruition the old Bengali saying ‘Bamon hoye chaande haat deoya’. Yet, I have been yearning since last evening to scream from the tallest rooftop of the city urging people not to miss this experience.
Packed within 160 minutes of cinema is a lifetime of emotions, the human zeal of struggle, the undaunted spirit of fighting for freedom and oft-ever told story of the victory of good over evil. What better time to release the film than the fortnight when the entire state is gearing up to celebrate the divine feminine.
Rajkahini derives inspiration from several stalwarts – from Sadat Hassan Manto to Aban Thakur. But the film is quintessentially Srijit Mukherjee’s own. His craftsmanship has left every member of the audience with a lump in the throat and glistening, moist eyes. As they say, ‘Rajay rajay juddho hoy, ulukhagrar pran jay’. Srijit Mukherjee skilfully narrates a tale where independence faces resistance from freedom; individual liberty as people’s lives are sacrificed at the altar of independence by those in high seats of power. A group of feisty women, that too belonging to brothels, take on the might of the government and embrace the ultimate fate with their heads held high.
Rajkahini is set in 1947 in Haldibari (north Bengal). But the story is universal and timeless. If the first sequence leaves you shell-shocked wait till the last scene where Rituparna’s victorious-yet-sad stare will leave you numbed. Lily Chakraborty’s voice still rings in my ears; the final passages of Padmini from Aban Thakur’s Rajkahini resonating in the heart. In fact Rajkahini is a film that one must watch out for the performances. In never-seen-before avatars, each actor outdid themselves, making an indelible impression in the heart.
Rituparna as Begum Jaan is stoic yet emotional. The owner of the ‘kotha’, she is the matriarch who has not let the woman in her die. Parno Mitra, the gullible sweet woman will win you over with her innocence. Zoya Ahsan, a favourite actor from across the border, is sensuous and earthy. Priyanka, Sohini, Sayoni – all justify the roles they are cast in. Riddhima’s opening scene was shocking and made me skip a beat. Sudiptaa was a natural. Bnuchki will leave you stunned in her final sequence. Rajkahini transforms these girls into women. Nigel Akkara’s support to the ladies as Salim was phenomenal; his death sequence will shatter your hearts.
Among the male actors, Rudranil steals the show with his earthy and innocent portrayal of Sujan. You cannot help must cry out loud when he meets his fate. The romantic sequence between Rudra and Zoya Ahsan was probably the best written scene I have watched in a long long time. The colours, dialogues and the flawless execution through acting just took that sequence to a ethereal level of finesse. Rajkahini is filled with moments which make you go ‘awww’ or ‘Ohhh’. You cannot prevent your heart from melting in empathy and love for these women forsaken by society.
Saswata Chatterjee’s cold, calculating maneuvers, silent stares will freeze your innards. His exchanges with Kaushik Sen are ‘harh him kora’ to say the least. He epitomises the administration that supersedes all laws and rules only to get things, it views as right, done. The pain of Partition is expressed in his tears, the vengeance of the violence during that period reflected in his eyes. How calmly he advises Dr Ilias (played by Kaushik Sen) to incite riots if people do not ‘move’. Between Saswata and Kaushik, Rajkahini transgresses time and become epochal.
The icings on the cake are definitely Jishu and Abir. One is the cold-hearted goon who is for hire to instigate violence. The other, the innocent-looking, scorned lover who can to any extremes for revenge.
Essentially Rajkahini is a melting pot called India. At times one can even see shades of the Singur andolan where the government of the day decided to usurp the land of farmers using every rule in the book (and even going to the extent of using muscle power). People of Singur put up a brave fight but could not save their land. But they had the moral victory.
Rajkahini is dedicated to all the refugees in the world. The film in essence champions anyone who stands up against the state for individual liberties. Thus Rajkahini is even more relevant in today’s times.
I would end this piece with only one line: Jaya Hey, Jaya Hey, Jaya Hey.
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights
Posted on October 16, 2015, in film and tagged Begum Jaan, Bengali, Bengali cinema, film, Film Recommendation, Film Review, Films, Kaushik Sen, Lily Chakraborty, Movie, Movie Recommendation, movie review, movies, Parno Mitra, Rajkahini, Rajkahini movie review, Rituparna Sengupta, Rudranil Ghosh, Saswata Chatterjee, Srijit, Srijit Mukherjee, Venkatesh Films, Zoya Ahsan. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.