Kolkata, 11 Mar 2019 15:02 IST
The film, directed by Pritha Chakraborty, has great detailing and so does each of the functions of every character.
Pritha Chakraborty’s debut venture Mukherjee Dar Bou is a well-executed engaging film that celebrates womanhood with a lot of detailing.
Chakraborty establishes the strong bond between women that is necessary for their empowerment at the most core unit of society — inside a household. The friendships form where women feel lonely the most — where they are obliged in every way.
Chakraborty unravels how patriarchy entangles both men and women in its grip and continues to have its effect down the generations. Almost all the characters in the story are connected to its central theme and they are the victim of the circumstances that society has brought upon them. Both the director and writer Samragnee Bandopadhyay have done a commendable job in lending agency to each of the characters, who go through distinct journeys that are realistic, relatable and not portrayed in a hurry.
Aditi (Koneenica Banerjee) is the daughter-in-law of the Mukherjee family and the wife of Saswata (Biswanath Basu), a clerk at a government office. Her mother-in-law Shobharani (Anusua Majumdar) suddenly begins to act strange after her husband Iswarchandra passes away.
Shobharani begins to feel insecure and always complains that her husband’s death has made her worth in the eye of her family less. She either tries to force her authority over her family, desperately seek attention or find refuge in taking away Aditi’s happiness.
Saswata, the pampered son of Shobharani, is always escaping the conflicts between his mother and his wife or blaming Aditi for every problem in the house. Aditi sometimes cannot take it and confronts her mother-in-law over her behaviour; however, the latter refuses to comply.
One day, amidst such heated arguments, Shobharani gets into an accident and Aditi decides take her to psychologist Aratrika Bhattacharya (Rituparna Sengupta). Initially reluctant, Shobharani eventually gives in to Aditi’s entreaties and both of them begin taking sessions from the consultant. The sessions gradually reveal the deep rooted insecurities and fears of both of them and the oppressions they have both been subjected to.
Though the transformations of both the characters are predictable, they do not take place in a hurry. The process is rather organic and it begins to affect the people in their surroundings and their equations as well. However, the characters not only change as the human beings they are, but their notions towards the system, their perspective at their own selves and surroundings change as well. The characters begin to explore their grey shades and begin to accept them in the light of the existing system that is not fair and makes unjust demarcation between men and women.
The film has great detailing and so does each of the functions of every character. That Aditi is a responsible and dedicated housewife, who continuously gets scoffed by her husband and mother-in-law, is established in an extremely realistic depiction. Each of her activities in the kitchen, in dusting the rooms and accompanying her child from home to school and vice-versa is accompanied with dialogues that magnify her position as a housewife taken for granted.
Saswata’s nonchalance in his house, his submission to his mother in an attempt to escape confrontations with his wife, who he considers to be an intellectual and is happy to not send her to work, defines toxic masculinity. The ambience in his office is also created with a lot of thought and why even in the workplace they love to shed their frustrations over their wives is well established.
Shobharani’s acute insecurities never seem to be over-the-top, rather they are depicted to be the consequences of sheer loneliness. The nameplate of her house that only has the names of both the men of the family suggests her position in her life and in her family.
Chakraborty has specifically made Aditi’s daughter a student of karate because she needs to be capable of self-defence. Her inquisitiveness about her parents' fights and about her mother’s lie about her grandmother’s fault appears genuine.
Though Aditi’s relative Putul Di’s (Aparajita Adhya) crises are never revealed in the first half of the film, yet her restless screen presence hints to the struggles she is going through in her personal life. Her deliberate advice to Aditi and continuous efforts for making Shobharani happy hints that she is also always trying to look for happiness somewhere other than her own life.
With the character of a divorcee and responsible single father Ajitesh (Badshah Maitra), Chakraborty has maintained a balance between the archetypal characters. His character is an exception and serves a contrast to Saswata’s character, playing a crucial role in establishing the bond between Saswata and Aditi.
As both Shobharani and Aditi pour their hearts out to Aratrika, their stories simultaneously reveal the cycle of subjugation and mistreatment they have been victim of and how both of them have tried to be unjust to each other by repeating the same unfair actions by normalising them in their daily lives. The writers haven’t glorified any of the characters, rather they have brought out the traits which were unknown to themselves.
They have also explored how taboo it is to consult a psychologist even in this era and the way depression is never taken to be a serious ailment.
It is interesting in the way the writer has shown toxic masculinity to be a hurdle in the way of romantic love that completes a couple. It has also shown that for love, not a handsome, rich and suave man like Ajitesh, rather a caring man who values and respects women and who can also be apologetic when needed, is far more important.
There are certain moments in the second half, including the one in which Aditi and Shobharani chat near the bank of the river or when Putul’s mother-in-law stops her by saying that she has no other to look after her other than her daughter-in-law deserves special mention.
The climax is cathartic and also justifies the title of the film to a great deal. It is emotional, but not deliberately composed to make the audience sentimental.
Koneenica Banerjee gets to the skin of Aditi and puts up a natural act, never turning her character to be grim despite the injustice she goes through. Her face lights up when she is happy in her daily life, she is not afraid to be sarcastic of her husband and also, she looks for a better future as she takes her mother-in-law to the psychologist.
Anusua Majumdar’s expressions speak volumes and magnify her frustrations and insecurities even without the dialogues. Her fears for losing out or exposing her insecurities and all the mistakes she has made is real.
The director deserves credit for casting Biswanath Basu as the middle-class, not-so aspirant man, for who food and mother’s affection matter the most.
Aparajita Adhya makes the vulnerabilities of her character palpable in every second of her screen presence and Rituparna Sengupta delivers flawless act as the psychologist.
Supriya Dutta’s photography and Malay Laha’s editing have saved the film that deals with so many intricate issues, from appearing lengthy. They both deserve credits for etching out the details throughout the film.
Indraadip Dasgupta’s background score in the emotional sequences, as well as song 'Kobe Asbe' by Ishan Mitra are some memorable soothing moments from the film.
Though the film deals with grave issues, it has its approach towards the heart with a lot of entertaining elements. The dialogues are funny and enables the audience to look at the situation from a more objective outlook.
Mukherjee Dar Bou is worth the watch for the vast range of issues it deals with in such a compact format and it can also be a cathartic experience for the audience that is not much different from Aditi, Shobarani and Putul.
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