(Nauka dubi)

Dir.  Rituparno Ghosh. India. 2011.

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Rutuparno Ghosh comes up with yet another winner,  with his latest Bengali  film ‘Nauka dubi’ which was dubbed in Hindi and released as ‘Kashmakash.’ A moving portrayal of Rabindranath Tagore’s story which was earlier seen in different versions both Bengali and Hindi and directed by famous directors of a bygone era, ‘Kashmakash’ is a delicately woven tale about  relationships and the inherent drama involved when pitted against duty, obligation and cupid’s complications. The story is a bit convoluted for today’s times though and complications and coincidences far too many to be taken to heart without question. But it’s Rituparno’s craft and his ability to manipulate superior performances from his actors, that makes this a masterpiece rendition worth catching up with in the theatres.

It’s not an easy story to tell especially since the melodrama is already inherent in the story itself. But Rituparno manages to keep his narrative subtle and infinitely engaging. The developing romance between law student Ramesh (Jishu Sengupta) and Hemnalini (Raima Sen) is nipped in the bud when Ramesh’s father summons him  home. Hemnalini has no idea about what has happened and she like a dutiful lover awaits his return. But Ramesh’s father has made other plans for his
son. He is ordered to marry Susheela and Ramesh has no alternative but to allow Susheela’s widowed mother’s plea and fall into step with his father’s dictat. 

Following the wedding, Ramesh and Susheela set back for Kolkata in a river boat which capsizes in is a storm. Ramesh survives and on regaining consciousness sees another woman, Kamala (Riya Sen) lying nearby. Once she regains consciousness, it’s obvious that she is suffering from a memory loss and believes she is
Susheela. Both set out for Kolkata on a train. Ramesh tries to search out Kamala’s husband Nalinakshan’s whereabouts but does not succeed. Meanwhile Akshay who is in love with Hemnalini finds out about Ramesh and Kamala and informs Hemnalini about them. Hem is shattered and taken to Kashi by her father (Dhritiman Chatterjee). Ramesh leaves Kolkata with Kamala, having found it impossible to handle the scandal. Kamala finally realises the enormity of her circumstance and sets out to commit suicide, is rescued and is now under the care of her husband’s mother. The story gets even more complicated towards the end before resolving itself in the climax.

The pace is sublime,the plot is  delicately woven, the dialogue  has a dramatic core that is felt more than heard- the overall emotional resonance is amazing. Rituparno also manages to weave a sense of mystery to enhance the dramatic effects of this ancient story. Tagore’s progressiveness is brought to the fore with great finesse. The film may not seem topical or relevant  to today’s permissive generation, but it’s  heightened  espousal of honor, respect , sacrifice  and ethics if viewed in the right  perspective could give the wayward generation a sense of direction.

The visuals are also quite breathtaking. Every scene is artistically rendered, light and shadow enhancing each moment and escalating the visual beauty to a point where every scene appears painted.  Sound quality is in high order, Hindi dialogues have been composed with a lot of care and the dubbing is also quite good. Raima, Jishu, Prosenjit and Dhritiman have already proven their worth in several films before and they have no trouble getting into the skin of their characters here either. Riya , notorious for her attitude and affairs rather than her talent, proves herself a solid actress here. Her rendering of Kamala  is note perfect, putting to rest all speculation of whether she had it in her to make her grandmother, the legendary Suchitra Sen, proud of her talent. So what are you waiting for. Rush to the theatres...now!

Rating:  * * * ½

Johnson Thomas

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