Shauli Chakraborty
Film: Arekti Premer Golpo
Director: Kaushik Ganguly
Creative Director: Rituparno Ghosh
Cast: Rituparno Ghosh, Indraneil Sengupta, Chapal Bhaduri, Raima Sen, Churni Ganguly
Rating: Very Good

First things first — the film is not just a gay love story. It is more of a love story between two human beings with a strong message. A path breaking film, Arekti Premer Golpo makes you sit up and question if all that you perceive is actually, all that there is to perceive.
Here, Rituparno the actor is faced with his sole competitor — Rituparno the director. It isn’t necessary to choose one or judge both. For a fulfilling cinematic experience you only have to sit back and take note of art for art’s sake. Only then can you come out as a viewer unscathed from social constructs and box office gossip.
Whatever Rituparno’s reasons for choosing Chapal Rani as a subject, the film surely isn’t an explanation. Nor is he using it as a shield. The director makes this point in a scene where Momo (Raima) talks to Basu (Indraneil) about her reservations of Roop’s (Rituparno) intentions. Basu replies, “Nobody knows Roop more than I do…he is anything but a coward.”
The narrative has several layers to it — something that is so characteristic of the film’s creative director. Chapal Rani plays himself and is perhaps one of the lucky people to see his autobiography filmed in his lifetime. Several scenes from his childhood leave a mark. Like the one where Chapal is asked to shave his head after his mother’s demise. He questions, “Why am I the only one who has to shave? Just because I am her son? Why doesn’t Shejdi need to do it?” Later we see a parallel when Roop shaves his head and his unit offers condolences. Roop exclaims, “Nothing has happened. Everybody is fine at home. This is just my new hairstyle!”
There is another scene which depicts Chapal taking a dip in the Ganga and refusing to step out of the water without covering himself. Only his sister seems to understand his plight and throws a gamcha into the water. Chapal’s love for bisexual Kumar is as similar and dissimilar to Roop’s love for a much-married Basu. Also Chapal’s close realtionship with Kumar’s wife (Churni) is a very different one from the disturbing one between Rani (Basu’s wife) and Roop. There are a couple of other parallels as well, but I don’t want to give away the plot.
The film is full of symbolism and imagery. It is also poetic in places. Like the scene where Uday and Roop discuss Abanindranath Tagore’s painting titled ‘Shondhyer Pakhi’ or ‘Bird Of Dusk’ is brilliant. Similarly, music by Debajyoti Mishra is haunting. Bonomalee re…. poro jonome hoyo Radha… has been used all through the film. However, in each sequence the background score has symbolised different things.
When a reporter asks Roop whether his film is about Chapal Rani’s career or his sexuality, Roop retorts, “If I were making a film on Amitabh Bachchan would that have been relavant?” Need I say more?

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