“You don’t have to be a Bengali to resonate” – Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Observation 1 on making ‘Anuranan’ after years of ads for Britannia and the like.

“I’m not so sure about that.” – Banno, Observation 1 on watching ‘Anuranan’, having relinquished the habit of ducking Britannia biscuits into tea since years, in a bid to count calories.

“There is a certain kind of film making that seems to be peculiar to Bengali cinema. Mystical talks about nature, emotions sublimated in abstractions, poetry posing as ordinary dialogue between people in the most humdrum situations. Visual elements include Kanchenjungha, intellectual women in spectacles and handloom saris, moonlight, old trees, old houses, a copy of ‘Love in the time of Cholera’, whisky being quaffed in every other scene, a living room party where everybody dances and people air kiss each other. While the protagonist looks at bookshelves.” – Banno, Observation 1 continued.

‘Anuranan’ is meant to explore the resonance between two individuals, between man and nature, between freedom and marriage. An architect Rahul prone to spouting poetical observations into a dictaphone (Rahul Bose), a wife Nandita, who is loving but childless (Rituparno Sengupta), a cold, indifferent business man husband Amit (Rajat Kapoor), a romantic yearning wife Preeti (Raima Sen). The four meet each other in various drawing rooms, and the empty space outside marriage, between Rahul and Preeti begins to resonate. It takes them first to an old tree, that Rahul calls Kanchenjungha and then to Bagdogra where Rahul is designing a resort for Amit’s company. Rahul is moved by the moonlight on the mountain, and Preeti follows him there in her quest to be a bird.

“But why does resonance happen only between two intellectual souls? Why can’t Amit and Nandita resonate? Why does the businessman necessarily have to be unfeeling towards nature? Or relationships? Why can’t the poetry spouting architect actually be cold and cruel to his wife, as in many instances of real life? Why must the wife suffer only because she cannot have a child? Why can’t she be just fed up and bored of his philosophical allusions and his relationship with his dictaphone?” – Banno, Questions 1 to 7, Observation 2.

The film brings to mind Satyajit Ray’s ‘Kanchenjungha‘, perhaps is influenced by it. Of course, the master’s touch is in the completely identifiable characters, dialogue that reveals the innermost workings of their minds without being facetious and unreal, the use of light, shade and mist to enhance the human drama, nature in fact colluding with man to create an unique narrative of a particular day in the lives of several people.

“Is there a single Bengali film made in the history of cinema without reference to Tagore or Satyajit Ray?” – Banno, Question 1, Observation 3.

“If so, can anyone please tell me about it?” – Banno, Question 8, Observation 3 contd.

“It is tough enough to sustain the interest of the viewer in a hyperlink film, as there is no one character or plot that one can identify with. To create a further disenchantment by making the characters unbelievable is to be deliberately yawn-inducing.” – Banno, Observation 4, full and final, on ‘Anuranan’.

Am racking my brains to remember what Rahul’s full and final observation was, the night he died, before he reappeared as a ghost meditating before the Kanchenjunga. Rahul died with his dictaphone in his arms.

I cheered myself up with Anjan Dutt’s ‘The Bong Connection‘. Raima Sen seemed more believable as the rich, young strong-headed girl, Sheela than she did as a bespectacled suffering wife.

Ray and Tagore did come up, but in a palatable way. Except when Apu’s (yes, Apu!) boss says with grudging admiration of him, after a huge showdown between Apu and himself, “Aparajito“.

Anyway, this is what I get up to while Dhanno has a posh dinner with her friends, and Teja earns a living. Watch films that no one will ever watch with me. I remember as a young woman emotionally blackmailing my boyfriend to go to a re-release of ‘Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje‘ with me. My mother, usually indulgent, refused to go see this one. She as a rule, disliked actresses with flamboyant facial expressions and heavy duty ‘ada‘s. I, on the other hand, loved flamboyance in all its forms, and sulked and sulked until I did get the requisite company for the film.

“With the years, I’ve become kinder to my loved ones and don’t expect them to prove their love for me by seeing all the films I would like to inflict on them.” – Banno, Observation 5, in vain attempt to resonate.


* ada – accomplished, beauty, blandishment, charm, coquetry, fulfilled, grace, paid, performed, posture

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