Abhijit Ghosh-Dastidar

Kaushik Ganguly's Nagarkirtan—The eunach and the flute player / Town religious ballads" (Bengali, 2017, 115 mins, colour), pursues a pivotal question—can two boys fall in love? An assembly of religious ballad singers sing praises for the holy beauty of Vrindavan. Madhu (Ritwick Chakraborty) plays the flute in the choral ensemble. Searching for his "guru" (teacher) in an old and poor section of Kolkata, he stumbles into a eunach colony, where Puti (Riddhi Sen) is a youngman and resident of the colony, dressed in blouse and sari. Brisk close shots panning Kolkata's traffic from bus stands to Hooghly river, and disrupted time to rural areas of Nabadwip, become the decor of the film. A love develops between Madhu and Puti. Madhu takes Puti to his parents' residence in Nabadwip. At a religious music session, Puti in blouse and sari, has her female wig loosening off. Madhu's mother and elder brother drive the pair, away from the ancestral cottage. Puti runs away, but is assaulted by other eunachs and stripped. She finds shelter in an eunach colony, commits suicide by hanging inside the lockup of a police station. Madhu dressed as a transgender, arrives at an eunach colony in search of a new experimentation.

The script by Kaushik Ganguly is an act of deliberate imagination. The visuals do not offer inspirations as the lyrical poetry of the syntax is frequently disturbed by unrelated cross cutting from future denouements. Rhythm of day to day survival of alternative attractions fails to reach any metaphysical diemension. Sirsha Roy's camera captures the vivid, imaginative gloss of painted faces and indoor and outdoor foregrounds in over-ripened colour. Prabudha Banerjee's music is yearning for religious sites and lament. Ganguly misses out any tantalising alternatives to realism. "Nagarkirtan" is part thriller and part melodrama, on love beyond the bounds of normalcy. In spite of odd ball editing patterns, the protagonists remain deviants, in an unrestrained visual palette.

Basu Paribar
'Basu Paribar' (family) (Bengali, colour, b/w, 1 hr 56 mins) by Suman Ghosh, is loosely constructed on a James Joyce story, "The Dead". From an overhead, aerial forward track of the Basu ancestral house, the Mahisadal Rajbari, East Midnapore district, the camera moves interior. Retired barrister, zamindar grandfather, Pranabendu Basu (Saumitra Chatterjee) is instructing servants to fix paintings and chandeliers, on ornate walls and ceiling. Grandmother, Manjari (Aparna Sen) is setting the interior rooms, as part of a celebration of 50 years of marriage anniversary. In a room full of skins and dead animals, sister (Rituparna Sen) reveals that brother (Kaushik Sen) was fond of playing with lipstick and dolls, during childhood. Rituparna's husband is absent and mobile phone conversations are full of tension and anger. Kaushik's wife (Sudipta Chakraborty) smiles and wipes occasional tears. Entering the old mansion, behind the present abode "Kamodini", daughter-in-law Roshni (Sreenanda Shakar) discovers the old caretaker (Arun Mukhopadhyaya), living in isolation. Annoyed on facing question on not having children, Roshni screams at her husband (Jishu Sengupta) for defective sperms. Manjari's sister-in-law (Lily Chakraborty) tries to maintain balance when ill tempers surface. Mr Basu's younger brother (Paran Bandopadhay) recalls humorous memories of Mr Basu and Manjari's engagement, but is unable to fortify happiness. Nephew Tublu (Saswata Chatterjee) is lost with memories of Parimal, the caretaker's son. Converstaions reveal that Parimal had fallen from the roof, and died an unnatural death. In black and white, the past surfaces, with Parimal singing, accom-pained by Manjari and Tublu by the pond. There may have been a non-contactible relationship. Lavish dinner is spread out, with delicious food, wine and whisky. Spotting the lit chandeliers, the old caretaker intrudes.

The mystical Ultarath Day, brings rains as of 50 years ago. Manjari is on a balcony, staring at the foliage in the dark night. Suman Ghosh's script follows an entertaining model of decaying aristocracy, set in a montage of reminiscences, affections and ill conduct. The film is dialogue driven, with stylised theatricality. Shaumik Halder's camera moves widely in range and length. The images fail to drive the narative. "Basu Paribar" plays for laughs, but there are serious undertones.

Vol. 51, No. 43, Apr 28 - May 4, 2019