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Review Bengali

Tasher Ghawr review: Characterization and performance drive this film bereft of memorable cinematic moments

Release Date: 03 Sep 2020

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Roushni Sarkar

Swastika Mukherjee as Sujata carries this short film on her shoulders. The only other character, her husband, only makes a blurred appearance in it.

If you expected the brooding story of a victimized homemaker in Hoichoi Original film Tasher Ghawr, you would be sorely mistaken. This 47 minute film, directed by Sudipto Roy, has more complexities to offer through the monologues of its protagonist Sujata, who faces the ordeal of domestic violence like many women but, strangely, does not crave empathy or demand justice.

Writer Sahana Dutta deserves credit for introducing a woman protagonist who breaks away from all the moralistic tropes associated with ‘good’ women and presents a complex psychological case.

Swastika Mukherjee as Sujata carries this short film on her shoulders. The only other character in the film, her husband, is hardly projected visually. As Sujata narrates her story, like opening up to a virtual diary, her husband only makes a blurred appearance in it.

However, no matter how eagerly Sujata would wish her husband to be just a blur in her life, fate has other plans. The pandemic-induced lockdown snatches away her solitude as her husband is now at home all the time.

We have all read and heard of the growing number of cases of domestic violence as women are forced to spend more time with their abusers by the pandemic. However, Sujata’s case is more layered and she heaves a sigh of relief when her husband finds a girlfriend and starts paying less attention to her.

Tasher Ghawr reflects the unfortunate reality of women in the patriarchal design of our society, but writer Dutta has made the content more interesting by choosing a victim who has her own deep dark shades. Sujata makes for an eerie sight when she smiles while talking about last night’s abuse or confessing that she would feign being sick to drive away the only neighbour visiting her at times.

She hardly speaks of a friend or having a life on social media. She takes a selfie once while baking a cake, but we are not sure if she intends to post it anywhere. Her absolute bliss in solitude, finding a new sense of belonging with different smells, some of them morbid, and not mixing with people, does not fit into the standard social identity of a human being. She loves conversing with plants and the rats making a noise in her kitchen. She does not like replies.

The gradual revelation of her shades will keep the audience hooked; at the same time it can be hard to keep listening to her banter. Since her monologues are only interspersed with visuals of household activities in a confined space, the audience might not find the motivation to invest its attention constantly on every word she says.

It is not that Sujata never aspired for a life that most homemakers dream of, but circumstances have pushed her into such a dehumanized state in which she is constantly subjected to inhuman treatment that she has developed a rather intimate relationship with her wounds instead of rebelling. She has her own way of shutting down the sources that disturb the tranquillity of her solitude. She is rather cold in her approach.

Swastika Mukherjee not only delivers a consistent performance as Sujata, but also makes subtle dramatic changes with her expressions that unsettle the viewer listening to the story of an apparently simple housewife.

Ayan Sil’s camera mostly takes fixed visuals of Sujata conversing directly with it. Perhaps a bit of cinematic variation or jerks would have helped break the monotony. Pabitra Jana makes the shifts between the flashbacks and the present time frame rather smooth, not getting into conventions yet making the distinction apparent.

Ishan and Amit’s background score reinforces the suggestion that Sujata will eventually adjust to the ‘new normal’, finding her own space despite her husband's intrusion.

The use of Tagore’s song 'Ei Akashe Amar Mukti' at the end is apt and adds to the eerie build-up of the psychological thriller. Mukherjee’s rendition of the song 'Amar Kono Golpo Nei' is fitting as it reflects her spirit of romanticizing the lack of happiness in her life.

Sujata's character graph and Mukherjee’s portrayal are the sole pulling factor for a story that doesn’t offer any memorable cinematic moments. Tasher Ghawr may intrigue the audience with its subject, but whether it will satisfy the hunger of cinema lovers is in doubt.

Tasher Ghawr is now available on the OTT platform Hoichoi.

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