Trivandrum, 13 Dec 2018 14:00 IST
A film of new imagery and style, Urojahaj is heavy with subtext of artistic freedom, individuality, and political oppression.
"Who do you think the forests, the sky, the land belongs to?" a sub-inspector asks the confused Bacchu Mondal. "Us. Aren't you and I India, sir?", he replies meekly.
In this one conversation, Buddhadeb Dasgupta brings out the absurdity with which a republic functions. Urojahaj starts out as a fable fantasy but soon becomes the allegory of how an oppressive state suppresses individuality and thought to ensure uniformity.
Bacchu Mondal (Chandan Roy Sanyal) is a garage mechanic who spends most of his time dreaming of flight. When he finds a crashed World War II plane in the jungles outside his town, he is determined to see it fly. But it is not that simple.
As he sets out to learn how to fly, he discovers that there are too many obstacles in his path. From his own job and neighbours to the state government, there are obstacles determined to crush his dreams. The government tells him the plane cannot belong to him. They question him on what he is going to use it for. "Bombing villages?," they ask. For him, the answer is the most obvious thing that can be done with a plane — to fly.
Director Dasgupta quietly infuses the fable with touches of realism that appear out of incongruent characters. From dead spirits in the jungle narrating their tales of betrayal, oppression, hunger.
"People waste mounds of rice. I only dreamed of them. Dreams can be dangerous," the spirit of a farmer tells Bacchu.
It is these subliminal layers that give the film an extra dimension. While Dasgupta covers the film with beautiful images held in the eye of his camera, he also infuses the text with metaphors about suppressed individuality, lack of curiosity, the gluttony for power, wealth and life.
Above all, there is the imagery that is constant throughout the film giving it a magic touch. Walls vanish, trees move, shadows fly, and so does Bacchu Mondal in the end.
Eventually, Dasgupta's film is a fable that helps digest the uncomfortable truths of today easily. But as you leave the screen, the images and metaphors remain with you, leaving a powerful after effect.
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