Sunday, June 27, 2010

Surrendering to Nostalgia

Thank God i am not a critic for if i was one i would've used words like 'Bland', 'Painfully slow'and at best given it the rating of 'Watchable' for this wonderful story which the director Aparna Sen pefers to call, "A love poem".

The Japanese Wife, the movie had many such moments that made me feel home.i loved the movie for the moments that have been carved meticulously in this story by Kunal Basu.And these moments now seen in a movie helps me to recollect the story and the characters with a sense of affection so rare to develop in the kitsch movies that are being churned out these days by the Indian film industry.i actually read the story once but saw the movie twice to get the vivid original moments and feel the pleasant atmosphere the movie provided.

One could go on to debate about this unusual love story which was unconsumated till the end but i could not get myself to doubt the eventuality of one.
Starting as pen friends these two introverts one from Sundarbans and the other from Japan land up as husband and wife.But this marriage is one unique one and defeats all out of the box marriages that we see these days happening ...under the sea or in caves.Because all these marriages for one thing sees both the partners available for each other and together physically.Whereas in this marriage, a unique bond is forged through letters.And just like a good husband Snehamoy performs his duties towards his ailing wife Miyage through letters.While she like any devoted wife reciprocates all this with the gifts which have nothing but a wife's sense of service and love to convey.i could sense that devotion in the socks that she knits for him or the shawl that she sends for Snehomoy's Mashi ( Maternal aunt) as Mashi explains amidst laughter that has a hint of pride for her Jaapani Bau (Daughter-in-law).
Miyage in Japanese means gift as the narrative of the story tells me.

Nostalgia grips me as i see the village resound with cries of rustic kids as the film opens.The resounding cries of these sweet ,simple and barely clad kids are those of excitement and curiosity as the postman is on his way to deliver this huge box which has arrived from Japan for the Maths teacher Snehamoy.And as the movie progresses the lush visuals and overpowering landscapes of Sundarbans speak for themselves as these are characters in themselves.Snehamoy explains to his wife  Miyagi in his letters about him sitting for hours at the banks of the river Malta listening to the lapping of the waves.In his own words which is Bangla English, he says,"... as if my is mother is talking to me." These conversations and many others that he has, feels so natural to me and honest too and left me feeling very affectionate to both Miyagi and Snehamoy.

Moments in the movie take me down memory lane as i see :
~The cycling postman
~The earthily splendid local medicine man scratching his hairy breast pontificating proudly armed with his knowledge of English between sips of chai (Tea) and condescendingly translating the symptoms in English.
~The self deriding matriarch, the Mashi who chews pan and is so caring and so lovable not only to Snehamoy but also to the widow and her child Paltu whom she has given shelter to.
Maushami Chatterji has in fact startled me in this as Mashi by making it, i feel, one of her best performance.
~The wizened old homeopath.
~Those stolen glances between Sandhya the young widow and Snehamoy.( In the original story however she is simply referred to as the young widow)
~And later how Sandhya passes the maach (Fish curry) onto his paatta (leaf on which food is served) which silently declares her inward possession of Snehamoy.
~The sweet conversations between Paltu, Sandhya's kid when he gets tea and snacks for his Kaku ie Snehomoy which elucidates a bond developing between the two.
*And the most close to me the rousing sequence when the Japanese kites are flown high in the Bengal skies by Snehamoy.
In fact all those scenes relating to kites made me go back in time and I couldn't help but remember Lakhan once again fondly and very sincerely.Because i know how much it would've taken for him to prepare MANJAA ( the kite thread treated with glue and powdered glass to make it fit for combat) for me.

The list could be as exhaustive and i could go on and on.Maybe for the time being it would suffice to say that The Japanese Wife who had a cute pet dog named Haiku and who later was left all alone to fend for herself with her cancer and her living miles apart loving husband sending her Ayurvedic,Unani,...and all kinds of alternative medicines that he could afford, left me very emotional in a profound manner.
Especially when on Snehamoy's death Miyage arrives to the village, head shaved, wearing a white saree and that Shanka (Bangle made with conch shell worn by Bengali housewives) in her wrists which Snehamoy had sent her along with vermillion explaining her of Bengali wife customs.

So while dwelling on my kite memories which makes me forget time and listening to this lyrical love poem i can only have more respect for Aparna Sen who ''With her skillful art of cinematic surgery'' finds, ''The perfect heartbeats for her narrative."
 Now i am in a fix because i can't tell if the story by Kunal Basu was a good read or the film by Aparna Sen was marvelous?
So in order to calm myself down i say,"Thank God i am not a critic" or else i would have made unneccessary attempts at comparisons which critics normally do and never find the screenplay as good as the book.
And i happily dwell in those moments and have nothing to say but,''Love Poem indeed !''

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  1. Good post and I enjoyed The Japanese Wife too.That kite scene was fun Japaner gudi murdabaad!Bangaler gudi Jindabaad ! was interesting too.
    But the best was that lyrical poetry in Bangaali that the postman says about the Japanese box to the kids.Wish you could bring it back for me.

  2. @Anonymous Thank you and yes will try and get that postman dialogue for you.:)

  3. i wanna to see the movie with you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Thats a lovely review. I will make every effort now to go and get a DVD of 'The Japanese Wife'. Thanks Shivani!!

  5. @Gauri yes baby and it's going to be soon yipeee!!

  6. @Tandarin Thanks for calling it a review.But no thanks if you find the movie as the critics found it.And please see it with your life partner.Trust me you will find it good.It makes a difference you see... :)

  7. Really must say that u have a knack of reviewing movies:)nice post n informative for ppl like us who do not have much tym to c such gud ones..keep writing.

  8. I will have to see this one!

  9. @Aaakash do it son... although i am afraid it is not ur type but nevertheless one must see a panorama of sorts rather than sticking to just a particular genre... i feel.

  10. @Rashmi Thank you...long time eh! but glad you made time for mine.:)

  11. @Sabina thank you dear and maybe this time when you are home see the movie with other members of the family.Tell me later who you found most endearing in the movie.i loved Mashi.:)

  12. Excellent review. I have been planning to watch the movie for a long time now. Couldn't get the DVD yet.

  13. It seems like an excellent movie. I have ordered it and will see it once it arrives by post. Thanks for your comments.

  14. @Raja thank you for reading and the movie is a great watch if you like art movies . :)

  15. thanks a lot for reading and yeah you would enjoy the movie for it's feel like home picturisation especially the locals and the affectionately simple mashi . :)

  16. Let me begin by saying that I am a huge Aparna Sen fan. Secondly let tell you that I am a huge Aparna Sen fan. O.K. now that, that is settled. Your review is very well done.It is honest and has the humane touch and yet some expert observations. I applaud Rahul Bose for the array of roles he has played. Has surely come a long way from his English August days. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  17. I am smitten by those gorgeous Raima Sen eyes...Lovely movies they seem

  18. @LEB yeah Aparna sen is an artist i admire too and now it's her daughter too who i feel is a natural.
    Thanks for reading and appreciating.

  19. @Nish yeah that girl speaks only through her eyes in the entire movie as not much dialogues from her but she was excellent with her stolen glances and her other dialogues from her melancholic and lost in despair looks.Thanks for going through.

  20. you've been tagged on my blog

  21. @indrajit haha! thank you...what next?