Review of “Ghawre Bairey Aaj” – A contemporary take on Tagore’s classic
Director – Aparna Sen
Cast – Jisshu Sengupta, Anirban Bhattacharya, Tuhin Das, Sreenanda Shankar, Anjan Dutt, Rwitobroto Mukherjee
Apart from being a noted filmmaker, Aparna Sen is also known for being vocal about the current socio-political situation of the nation. From time to time she keeps expressing her views through social media platforms and some other activities and it wont be wrong to say that her latest film Ghawre Bairey Aaj is an extension of that. But that does not mean that it is just a propaganda film rather it is an well crafted thought provoking film based on a relevant subject with an earnest effort by a skillful cast and crew. This is indeed a brave subject and hats off to the production house Shree Venkatesh Films for backing up the film.
The original story of Ghare Baire, written by Tagore, was about the clash of the contrasting ideologies of two friends Nikhilesh and Sandip. It was also about Bimala, wife of Nikhilesh, who is torn between these two men. It is about her self awakening about her inner and outer world. Aparna Sen has skillfully adapted the basic idea of the story and planted it to the current turbulent political scenario. The story is set in the backdrop of Delhi (choosing Delhi as the backdrop has given the film a very refreshing look) where Nikhilesh Chowdhury (Anirban Bhattacharya) is an editor of an online news website with liberal point of view. His wife is Brinda (Tuhina Das) who was originally named as Bimala when she was a poor dalit kid in Jharia. After her parent’s death at a very young age, she moved to Delhi to her grandmother who was a house help at the posh bungalow owned by Nikhilesh’s parents. In fact she was brought up by Nikhilesh’s parents who not only gave her proper education but also renamed her to Brinda to make her more acceptable in the high class society. Later she got married to much older Nikhilesh with her consent obviously. According to Nikhilesh, Brinda has not seen much of the outer world and never get a chance to meet more men in her life, although it sounds little unconvincing in today’s time considering she has done higher studies and working as a proof reader for Oxford. Sandip Jha (Jisshu Sengupta) is the childhood friend of Nikhilesh who was a leftist student leader during his college days but now is a right wing nationalist leader supported by a political party with an agenda of of Hinduism. There are obvious clash between the ideologies of the two friends but still they share good rapport and when Sandip comes for a six month’s work assignment in Delhi he prefers to stay at Nikhilesh’s home. Sandip has a contradictory nature compared to Nikhilesh, he is more radical and active and Brinda gets easily attracted towards him for this nature. Rest of the story is somehow predictable even if anyone has not read the story or seen the movie made by Ray.
Aparna Sen has skillfully inserted some recent issues in the screenplay like mob lynching, candle march protests, agenda of making a temple on a disputed land, it has made it more relevant and added credibility to the subject. It is not a secret that Aparna Sen herself is a believer of secularism and it is obvious that the story has to be biased too some extent to her own point of view but still she has well established the view points of Hinduism also through the character of Sandip, specially in the first half. At one point in the film one character says it is always better to know more about the opposition so that you can counter attack them well, it seems Sen has also followed that while writing the script. The first half of the film is more appealing as we get introduced with the lead characters. All these three central characters have been well established through some well written flashback sequences. Also in the first half we can see the growing distance between Nikhilesh and Sandip due to their conflicting ideologies at the same time we can see the growing proximity between Sandeep and Brinda which leads to a love triangle. On a whole the first half is very much engaging but sadly in the second half does not live up to the expectations. In the second half the emotional story of the three central characters takes a backseat as the social issues get more priority. Also the clash between the two ideologies which was going at par in the first half becomes one sided in the second half which is little disappointing. The climax is also somehow unrealistic and may not be acceptable to many. Despite of that one can not deny that the film is full of haunting moments that leaves a long lasting impression.
Aparna Sen has proved herself as an influential story teller many times and there is nothing new to prove in that but in some of her recent works she was not able to connect with the audience properly. With this film she has made a solid comeback. Everyone may not be in sync with her point of view but no one can ignore the film as it has the elements that grips your attention. She has been ably supported by the talented cast and crew. Soumik Haldar’s cinematography is a visual treat. He has efficiently captured the contrast between the luxurious lifestyle of the aristocrat families in Delhi compared to the poor tribal people living at Bastar. Rabiranjan Maitra’s editing is also effective to highlight the intensity of the narration. Neel Dutt’s haunting background score fits well with the situations. The two semi-classical songs have been perfectly placed in the narration. Make Up artist Md Ali deserves credit for creating such authentic looks for the characters, specially for the two leading men who are playing older characters than their real age.
Although there is very little portion in the film that shows the younger age of the two leading men, for most of the time they have been shown in their late forties, still Aparna Sen relied on a much younger actor like Anirban Bhattacharya just because she knows the potential of the actor. And Anirban Bhattacharya has proved her right. He has completely transformed himself to Nikhilesh. With every other film he is proving his versatility and dedication towards his work. Jisshu Sengupta has played his part as a good speaker with charming personality with conviction. Only there was no point in making the character a Bihari living in Bengal as he is not consistent with his accent throughout. The show stealer here is definitely the leading lady Tuhina Das. After seeing her in the film one must wonder why this talented girl has to wait so long to get her first big break. She has beautifully captured the inner turmoil of Brinda through her expressions. She has bring the innocence required for that character without making it look immature. It is kind of a coming of age story for Brinda and Tuhina Das has successfully portrayed that transformation of the character. Sreenanda Shankar is very good in her limited scope. Sohag Sen is brilliant in a cameo. Rwitobroto Mukherjee and Anjan Dutt have been wasted in half baked characters.
On a whole Ghawre Bairey Aaj is well made film which deals with a relevant subject. It is one rare film which does not care about the trends or business but tells a story that needs to be told. It deserves to be watched irrespective of your political views just because of the sheer brilliance and honest effort of the talented cast and crew.