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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This is a “guest post” by Rabindranath Tagore. He was a famous writer, lyricist, painter, thought leader, educationist, humanist. In 1913, he was awarded Nobel Prize in literature for his book of verses “Geetanjali”. Rabindranath has also composed the national anthems of India and Bangladesh (and inspired the national anthem of Sri Lanka). Vishwa Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath at Shantiniketan is a revered seat of learning.
DEDICATED TO THE MAN WHO DEFINES MY EXISTENCE
Shibnath babu was the teacher-in-charge for the primary section of school. Bald head, clean shaven, and a tiki which he wore as a crown, Shibnath was Yama personified for his students.
They say, bees which buzz never sting. One meeting with Shibram babu could prove them wrong. Words that would pierce your soul like the arrows of Arjuna, and free slaps and punches that rained like hailstorm in Ashad, Shibram never shied away from “disciplining” his students.
Shibram specialised in an innovative artillery to massacre students in class. Although he seriously lamented that teachers did not get the deserved respect from students anymore, unlike the Gurukul ages, he never shied away from extracting his pound of flesh. Despite being an incarnation of Yama, his physical assaults did not scare students as much his “Brahmastra”.
Shibram took pleasure in rechristening students who found a place out of his good books. Much to their embarrassment, the new names would kill the spirit in the victim. Shakespeare had once famously said, “What’s in a name?”. I say, “Everything”. The human nature loves its identity. An attack on his identity is therefore an attack on his very existence.
Shibram had grasped this inherent truth of human psychology wuite early in life and used it to suit his purpose. His first victim, Shashishekhar was crestfallen when he was rechristened “Bhekti”. The cause of heartache was not that he was named after a fish, but that his physical attributes played significant part in the renaming process.
Ashu was the quintessential introvert of the class. He would spend the entire day sitting in one corner, others oblivious of his existence. The youngest and the most pampered child of his family, he refused to give up his innocence.
Belonging to a rich “Bonedi” family, Ashu was always accompanied by chauffeur to school, and much to his embarrassment , lunch was always sent from home via a butler, in a silver platter covered by satin. Ashu never felt comfortable of his identity as a rich kid. Recess was a nightmarish for him.
He was a diligent student. Teachers could hardly find any shortcoming in his maneuvers, but Shibram belonged to a different league. Ashu would often arrive for class late by few minutes. That earned him the wrath of Yama. Made to kneel down outside class, Ashu would pray for the Earth to bifurcate, so that he could disappear inside her.
On one such occasion, Shibram named him “Ginni” (the housewife). And as Shibram went on to explain his choice of epithet for Ashu, amid rolls of laughter, the kid urged wizards of Hogwarts to help him apparate back to his home.
Here is what happened…..
Ashu had an younger sister – the only sibling of his age. They were compatriots in crime. From sunrise till sunset, barring school hours, the duo spent their waking hours in gaiety.
The day before Ashu’s rechristening happened was an auspicious day on Hindu calendar. Classes were suspended on that day. The day made even more special because Ashu’s sister was marrying off her favourite doll on that very day. Whole morning had been spent in busy preparations, although rains played spoiler.
Thanks to the torrential downpour, the purohit (priest) failed to turn up at the designated time. Exasperated, Ashu ran out of the building. He could see an old man pass by. Without a second thought, he rushed to him and asked, “Good man, will you please preside over the wedding of our doll?”
Th man turned, with an expression of shock. And to his horror Ashu saw Shibram babu standing in front of him. The world crashed. Ashu ran life and took refuge under his bed for rest of the day, much to the displeasure of his sister.
Bullied by his classmates for “playing rannabati” with his sister, Ashu sat through the day in class, finally returning to his shelter, shattered beyond repair.
[Ginni is a short story by Rabindranath Tagore. This is the first short story by the bard that i read in my life. I dared to translate the work of a legend. I pray i matched up even 1% of the original.]