Thursday, 12 November 2015

Rajkahini...

I’ll submit at the very outset that this was one movie I was extremely apprehensive about. The raging reviews did it, of course. This film, clearly, seemed to have found itself a place in the niche club of things which they call “extremes” – with reviews (sorry, reactions!) of absolutely polar opposite views on the very same issues. Most of those who watched seemed to have either liked it so much that it disturbed their sleep, or disliked it so much that they could not sleep too!


I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. I found Rajkahini to be a rather brave, ambitious attempt at something that we needed to hear, watch and think about... 






First and foremost, the main backdrop chosen for the film, something as mighty as the very Partition itself, was overwhelmingly large. Perhaps it isn't even possible to capture the nuances of Partition at both the macro (population) and the micro (psyche) levels and do justice to both the ends. Personally, I did wish that the film had many more macro moments and parallels/ contrasts drawn against the rest of the world so as to give us a better sense of time and space, as well as to become more of a “period drama”. Elsewhere and at most other times, stories and depictions of scales such as this are begun at a micro, zoomed-in subject; and then as the story unfolds, they eventually move up to unify at a larger scale, to draw parallels and gross-up to the macro landscape. Here however, the story began with Partition as its declared subject of choice, and thereafter zoomed into and found its inculcation in the lives of a handful of those beings whose stories are often left unheard in the bigger scheme of things. This bottom-up approach (as opposed to top-down), clearly a conscious choice of the director, was indeed ambitious, and if I may, relatively unexplored elsewhere.


Coming to the other pillar on which the story stands: the tales of “those” girls. I’ve personally always been very intrigued and yet clear in my mind why being a prostitute in *those* times was possibly so much better than being a domesticated female gender within the familial, societal and cultural boundaries. They were the ones who *chose* than being *chosen*, lived with a kind of self-esteem hitherto unknown to wives who only dutifully served health drinks to husbands that returned in the morning after heavy-duty stay-overs at the “kothas”. These girls were possibly the rare ones who could freely read, write, sing and dance (and… speak?), explored what they wished to, lived on their own terms. They very well had, and still have, their own stories to tell, and you cannot but be thankful that their story was chosen to be told amongst others in the grand scheme of land divides!


Could the two themes tie up? I’d say: well, they largely could! However, if I were to nitpick, if I'm hardpressed and asked if I was not left looking for more – Well, yes I guess! A few more scenes to portray the "why" behind the "whats"... A few scenes of the real eviction and impending "danga" perhaps, the public psyche versus *their* psyche on possession of material properties and blood-ties to leave behind, to let go… A few scenes with mass relocations in the frame... Perhaps, a bit of rounding up on the marriage of the two subjects further could have helped?




Coming to the cast, I have to first say, humbly, that I withdraw all that I had said so many times on the past about Rituparna’s acting skills in view of other movies I watched of her. She was excellent! Yes, despite all raging reviews about her throat conditions. If I've to choose a runner-up on the acting front, it has to be Rudroneel for me. I sincerely wish they retain their roles in the Bollywood version of the movie that will be made. She deserves it!



Music: I am largely unqualified to comment in this area, and yet I have to have to say this: if there was anything the audience may have been left seeking for, the Music of it should have made up for all of that and more. It did string a pain inside you unfailingly... It did string up the micro and the macro in a way no dialogue or scene, standalone, had the ability to. The Music of Rajkahini was something that you cannot overcome long after the movie would be over…




In my opinion, this was a brave movie! It was an ambitious attempt into something most would not dare into. It was a step into a combination of subjects that was absolutely unexplored, and it was a step into a zone which we weren’t exactly comfortable with to think of and yet needed to be awakened at.


This movie needed to be made. This story needed to be told. This pain needed to be weaved in.  Absolutely!




Did you like the movie? Share your comments with me below...