Q’s Tasher Desh (Land of
Cards) is a delectably surreal
ride through the self-indulgence of a director who does not want rules to create any obstacle in his way of artistic expression. The idea itself borders on pretentiousness, and thus it is no surprise that the film will be cussed at, and that is where 'borders' becomes an important word. On the other side of pretentiousness, lies 'brilliance', and that is where, in this reviewer’s opinion, ‘Tasher Desh’ has its feet firmly set.
The movie starts with an apparently incomprehensible sequence that later gains meaning, and slowly melts into a pastiche of realism and surrealism. The black and white cinematography is excellent as Q creates frames after frames that ooze aesthetic perfection, and this part of the movie narrates the story of an aspiring film maker looking for a reason. The story within the story, that is loosely yet sincerely adapted on the famous work of Rabindranath Tagore, is shot in sharp colors and invokes a sense of deep confusion and surrealism.
The story was the perfect for Q to adapt. For a person who does not shy away from showing marijuana in its full glory, and is least bothered about stretching the comfort zone of an Indian audience to its maximum capacity, a story about breaking rules and starting a revolution could only result in magic. And it did, the movie did not only remain a set of moving images, it became alive with the director's ideas, creating an experience which is not only gratifying but also frightening at times. Through the protagonist's journey to absolution, Q captures a crisis so palpably desolate, that sometimes, it becomes too uncomfortable to understand. On the other hand, the story moves forward as the prince and his friend escape their cage, their discipline, and spark a revolution which changes the lives of an entire race, as facades drop, selves are revealed and rules are broken. The tightly strung and well-paced film culminates in a sense of liberation and wanton defiance.
The subtitles are a work of art, as dialogues are translated not literally, but contextually, and in the very spirit of the theme again, break all movie making norms. In fact, Q makes sure that aberrations become his prime weapon of mass destruction, or mass hypnotizing, as it applies. The movie was stripped bare of all explicit sequences but yet, the erotica that comes through is simply magnificent. Bodily desire as a symbol for freedom is not an unexplored topic, but Q handles it exceptionally well, and subtly too, on too many occasions to mention here. The music elevates the movie further, as lyrical Rabindrasangeet meets vocal sensuality, and titillates the viewers to the perfect degree.
Not that it couldn't have been better, more accessible to logic and a bit more structured, but that would take away a lot from a movie that is essentially a symbol of freedom and refuses to bend to rules. And why should it be? Why should it have been that way and not this? Who decides what way should it be? Probably an artist's true liberation lies in successfully making his audience ask these questions, and Q spectacularly succeeds.
Vol. 46, No. 18, Nov 10 - 16, 2013
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