Review Bengali

Mayurakshi review: Sobering look at father-son relationship and old age

Release Date: 29 Dec 2017 / Rated: U / 01hr 42min


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Sonal Pandya

Soumitra Chatterjee and Prosenjit Chatterjee anchor this oscillating film by Atanu Ghosh on familial relationships and the harsh realities of ageing.

Time and distance change every relationship, especially within families. How we interact with our parents at age eight is poles apart from when we are at 25, and even more so when we approach middle age.

Atanu Ghosh’s National award-winning film Mayurakshi explores the evolving relationship between an octogenarian Susobhan (Soumitra Chatterjee) and his US-returned son Aryanil (Prosenjit Chatterjee) as they navigate through this new stage in their lives.

Aryanil has to hurry back home to Kolkata to survey his father’s deteriorating mental condition. The twice-divorced Aryanil manages his father’s affairs from far, employing a housekeeper and a full-time attendant to tend to his needs. But there is only so much they can do.

He gets his first inkling that something is wrong when Susobhan, a former professor of history and an avowed intellect, starts recalling events from 1993, after Aryanil returned home from a cricket match in Lucknow. Susobhan has a tenuous hold on the events around him, at times lucid while completely lost and helpless most of the time.

For Aryanil, it is hard to grasp that his brilliant father has been reduced to this. He acts childish at dinner, refusing food, and doesn’t remember an afternoon of clarity, where father and son enjoyed coffee at a café. Thankfully, Susobhan is unable to grasp the state he has been reduced to. But for Aryanil, it’s a sobering reality.

There are minor events that take place in the film, but these are of great import in the humdrum life that remains — Aryanil connecting with his teenage son from his first marriage through Skype, making the rounds of doctors trying to find a solution for his father’s ailments, and his daily dealings with the house staff.

Soumitra Chatterjee plays Susobhan with all the world-weariness that age brings. The veteran sensitively portrays the indignities of age. Prosenjit as Aryanil tries to put a brave face on his growing problems in his own life, especially relating to his father, but eventually he knows he is fighting a losing battle.

Soumitra Chatterjee and Prosenjit

Both actors depict the crucial part of a child-parent relationship when the child must assume the role of a parent. It can be disconcerting as this change sneaks up on the child, whether he or she is able to come to terms with this sudden responsibility.

Aryanil has good support in Mallika, his father's housekeeper, played by Sudipta Chakraborty, and his childhood friend Sahana played by Indrani Halder. But in the end, it is Aryanil's journey to undertake alone.

The mystery of Mayurakshi (who is she really?) lingers through the film to unsatisfactory results. As the spectre of the enigmatic woman looms, both men get lost in memories that we cannot take part in. The film loses a bit of momentum there with that.

Ghosh’s finest scenes are when Soumitra and Prosenjit interact with each other. As they attempt to reconnect, with real emotion, that’s where the real heart of this film lies.

Mayurakshi is that rare film that explores a parent-child relationship with care and tact. It will move you to cherish those moments, good and bad, that you have with your parents. These moments are indeed precious, don’t miss out on them.

Mayurakshi was screened at the 9th Jagran Film Festival in Mumbai on 28 September 2018.

Related topics

Jagran Film Festival

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