Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Shakha Proshakha is one of my favourite Satyajit Ray films

Before I start justifying my l'affaire d'amour with this amazing film, let me give you a bit of background to my post.

Last Saturday, we (Rahul, Rini, Mouli et moi) met at our place for a Chinese night, read Chinese food that we wanted to experiment with. Like most of our evenings, we were in for good food, good wine and a good movie with some food for thought. The mood was for a Bengali touch so we chose a Ray movie: Shakha Proshakha. Now, the junta was a bit disappointed at it, except me of course, who suggested the movie.

Next day, Rini sent me the following link where eminent Bengali film makers criticized it as well.

OK, so here are few of the aspects of this great film that I like and why:

---The opening scene:
Despite popular opinion on the scene being too long and dramatic, I would like to say that it typified the banal act of reminiscence and retrospection by an ageing father, who happens to be a stalwart in the society. So, we saw a bit of pride, glimpses of defiance, an overt declaration of love, concern, gratification, a little self-pity and a lot of vulnerability. His raving occupied quite a bit of reel time but mind you, it was no ordinary morning. It was the day to commemorate his eclectic past and the flattering present: it was the day of his 60th birth anniversary. And a day when he got a chance to pour his heart out to his mentally scarred, physically dormant, once brilliant second son. Of course he got carried away. Of course he was oh-so-rhetoric. Aren't we all, when we meet the fringes of our broken self?

---The characters being one-dimensional:
I would like to know which one?! The father(Ananda)though being a well-respected, even worshipped retired executive, who climbed the ladder of name-fame-prosperity by sheer hard work and honesty, who was widely acclaimed for his humanitarian contributions often displayed naive sense of tinted outlook, be it about his family or the world in general.
The eldest son (Prabodh), an erudite, composed head honcho who sits on an epitome of familial and professional authority, falls from grace as his not-so-respectful repertory unfolds on the dinner table.
The second son (Prashanto), an obvious ideal intellectual with abundant prospects immerses himself in a hapless state of non-conformity instead.
The third (Prabeer), painted in a shade of misguided atrocity, rises to the occasion by a humble gush of self-realization and compliance.
(Pratap), the fourth son, the idealistic rebel also had his share of doubting self-efficacious moments.
The elder daughter-in-law (Uma) and the younger one (Tapati) were painted in the light of opposites too-that of classical candor and contemporary resilience.

---The movie being simplistic in its approach:
People say that in the context of ek-nambari and du-nambari the treatment of the concept was almost child-like. I beg to differ.
Firstly, human beings, especially workaholic, undaunted go-getter types spend so much of their time and energy in the pursuit of their goal, they mostly end up missing the finer nuances of life. In the hustle bustle of our daily chores, how many of us actually find time to reflect? To evaluate right and wrong? To surpass the all-encompassing trivia in knowing the entirety beyond? Plus, we believe what we want to believe. Historically parents have been blinded by the unquestioning love and devotion for their children. The rational of the wise and the perceptive get putty in the hands of innocent naïveté. Life, perhaps, is more simple than we’d like to admit, lest the absurdity of our confused mind (read complexity) gets trivialized.

That’s what I like about Ray. He depicts life as it is. Like a matured bystander witnessing it with great élan and objectivity. It’s not a carried-away(ed) overture of ecstatic adolescence.

Mouli sent me these 2 links that truly says what I meant to say about Ray movies.