When I first read in the newspapers that Konkona Sen Sharma was going to play Kadambari opposite Parambrata Chattopadhyay (Rabindranath Tagore), I was thrilled. It seemed to be a dream come true; Konkona was just perfect for the role. The enigma that Rabindranath-Kadambari Debi’s relationship is, it was natural to have an insatiable urge to watch it on the big screen. But when I left the theatre this evening after 2 hours and five minutes, I was disappointed.
Kadambari – the film – is pretentious. It tries to create a make-believe world of late nineteenth century only through props and dated costumes. The script is sloppy, given the fact it is based on two great novels: Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Prothom Alo and Mallika Sengupta’s Kobir Bouthan. The dynamics of relationships – between Kadambari and Jyotirindra, between Jyotirindra and Gyanodanandini, between Gyanodanandini and Rabindranath or between Gyanodanandini and Kadambari – left a lot to be explored.
The film has several anachronistic loop holes. Even the age-difference between Jyoti (or Gyanodanandini) and Kadambari is glaring during the childhood sequence. The child actors are wasted as they seem to have been forced to parrot their lines (did they not grasp the gravity of their roles?).
If anyone has read Thakurbarir Andarmahal (or even its English translation Jorasanko), they would be fascinated by the aura of Gyanodanandini. Titas Bhowmick was a disappointment of epic proportions in the role. Her character was reduced to that of a manipulative vamp in a saas-bahu saga. Even Kaushik Sen was overrated as the supremely talented Jyotirindranath Tagore.
Although Parambrata was unconvincing as the young Rabi, his chemistry with Konkona was brilliant. In fact, it was the sheer talent of Konkona that pulls this film through 120 odd minutes. The blank expression of shock after Urmila’s death or the marks of jealousy on her face when she learns about Binodini can become text book case for what flawless acting is.
Apart from Konkona, Bickram Ghosh’s background score saves the day for the film. Beautiful recreation of Rabindranath’s timeless creations will leave you spellbound. Hats off to Ustad Amjad Ali Khan for the ethereal title track. Having said that, I really want to know what prompted the director to use Babul Supriyo’s voice for the end credits when Srikanta Acharya was part of the film!
At the end of the day, the director may have unwittingly described the relationship between Rabindranath and Kadambari Debi in one of the scenes, without meaning to. When Kadambari confronts Jyoti over his affair with Binodini, he replies she is only a muse and not his lover. Kadambari may have been the same for young Rabi? May be more than that… Only history will be the judge.
As for the fictional biopic on Kadambari, Konkona outshines a sloppy script and B-grade film.
My rating: 2/5 stars
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