Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rituparno Ghosh's ‘Chitrangada’ is a wish to choose your own life


Chitrangada’ is a story of a ‘crowning wish’. That’s how the director perceives and films the script. One of the finest film makers of the decade, National award winner film maker Rituparno Ghosh, who has given Bengal film industry a boost after Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, plunges into another fa├žade of same sex relationship. With an edgy subject like this, the director could run into the risk of being obscene. However, he does it in style and with finesse. We have seen the director shaped into a fine actor with ‘Arekti Premer Golpo” and "Memories in March". You have to pick the thread from there and prepare yourself for the watch. Else ‘Chitrangada’ might become a challenging watch.  The subject is bold and intrepid and who else could have dealt with it than the like of Rituparno! The theme depicts individual’s wish and right to choose his own gender - a theme that would have many eye balls rolling. Initially, you will be little taken aback, especially,  if you have not watched the actor in ‘Arekti Premer Golpo'. You have to be also acquainted with the recent sociological orientation of the director turned actor. Over the years, Rituparno has metamorphosed into someone that he had wished to be. He has the conviction and integrity to speak and do his mind - something, which, chimes through the film.
The film starts with the staging of Rabindranath Thakur’s Chitrangada. Chitrangada being the only child of the King of Manipura dresses like a man and is heir to the throne. She sees Arjun in action and falls in love with him. Knowing Arjun will not love her in this form and he thinks her to be a man(Kurupa), she receives a boon from Madan Dev, Hindu god of love, and transforms herself into a beautiful feminine woman, Surupa. Arjun does fall in love with her and the two gets married.

The protagonist’s story runs parallel. Laced with interludes and preludes and series of dilemmas Rudra wishes to undergo sex change operation to adopt a child which he couldn’t have otherwise with a lover of the same gender. The gender change decision was not an easy one and it had to be done technically to satisfy the lover who is strongly inclined to have children. Rudra goes through emotional queries from parents and lot of physical pains and eventually agrees to undergo the process. But by the time Rudra metamorphoses through more than half of the procedure, the lover leaves him for a ' non-cosmetic, non-plastic' girl. Rudra, betrayed and pained, wanted time before the final leg of the operation. The illusionary counselor, in the end, helps him choose what he actually wants, and Rudra aborts the final operation of sex change. He takes off the implants, chooses to stay a man and goes back to his newly draped home to an ever loving mother and an anguished father who expresses himself much later but what a way!

The film is touching with moments that would stay with you. If and when you come with terms with the theme of same sex relationship, you will understand how sensitively challenging it was for the director to choose a tabooed script like ‘Chitrangada’. Rudra, the lover, the girl from the theatre group, the parents and the illusionary role of the counselor are all well thought of and well presented. Having said that, the film has technical flaws which can be overlooked f you are a Rituparno Ghosh admirer. The film may not have the class of Rituparno’s earlier films like Utsab, Badiwali, Doshor, Raincoat, Abohoman, Unishe April, Titli etc., but it touches out hearts for the subtle treatment of the daring theme that might have gotten all over the places if not have taken care of well.  The film is filled with beautiful shots. I loved every time the father, the mother and the son come into the frame. I loved the equation between the father and the son; I liked the part where Rudra gets jealous when his drug addict lover flirts with a wannabe photographer. The humorous interpretation of how Madan Dev is perceived as modern age cosmetic surgeon is quirky. I liked how the angst of a father eventually expressed in a never seen before love.

Dipankar Dey and Anushuta Majumder were natural and excellent. Jishu Sengupta plays the vagabond, drug addict lover with a never seen ease. Anjan Dutta stringed the film sequences into a beautiful garland. It seemed as if Rituparno as Rudra was just playing himself. I didn't find anything different and outstanding about the music. In bits the instruments were used nicely though. 'Chitrangada" is a story of life of a different kind of protagonist – a protagonist who is a man with womanish mannerisms, who truly loves a bisexual man. Looking beyond the gender bias, ‘Chitrangada’ is a story of hope, love, wish, wish fulfillment, heart breaks, pains, miseries, love lost, and a wish to chose your gender. ‘Chitrangada’ is a story of a crowning wish – wish to choose and tell your own story.