October 31, 2005

Antarmahal : Crude and Grotesque Tragedy

Antarmahal (The Inner Chamber ) , a movie featuring Roopa Ganguly, Jackie Shroff, Soha Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachan and directed by Rituparno Ghosh was released in Calcutta over the weekend.
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With Raincoat, Rituparno was merely boring but with Antarmahal he is positively insufferable.

I have not read Tarashankar Banerjee's original tale but I do see the outline of an engaging story about a rustic, libidinous idol maker who fashions the goddess in the likeness of his patron's wife ... with catastrophic, if not humourous, results. Unfortunately, Rituparno has overlaid this tale with a nauseating story of a vicious and degenerate zamindar and his perverted craze of having a son at any cost. The result is crude, grotesque and painful.

I have no problems with explicit eroticism or sensuality but the crudity with which sweaty, claustrophobia of the amorous sequences are depicted did leave an extremely bitter taste of what I had thought would be pleasant, if not exciting, weekend at the movies.

Rituparno is lionised by large sections of the 'intellectual' community as the torch bearer of avant-garde cinema, but sorry, I beg to differ.. this is trash. As a paying customer of his cinematic wares, I would like state that he has sold us a rotten lemon. The time has come to acknowledge that the Emperor really has NO clothes, irrespective of how many motions he or his supporters go through.

I do not wish to delve into the contradictory gender identities that the director seems to be grappling with in his personal life but I would suggest that unless he is making movies for a very select audience that suffers from a similar gender confusion he would be better off depicting stories in a manner that appeals to the vast majority of us.

As a free citizen of a free country, Rituparno is free to create and exhibit whatever movies he wants to but as an equally free citizen I have the right to withhold my patronage to his creative endeavours. What this means is that I will not invest any more money on tickets for his movies until I have evidence that he has regained the ability to entertain me and my ilk.

Going beyond Rituparno and his current efforts, it is even more unfortunate that Bengali cinema seems to have trapped itself in a labyrinth of puerile, personal relationships. It cannot find its way out of the narrow bylanes of domestic complicatoins and get on to the high-speed freeways that lead to the frontiers of new thoughts and ideas ... with the speed and style of Jurassic Park, Matrix or even good old James Bond 007 ( may his tribe increase !)

Perhaps audiences in Calcutta are not ready for such spectacular journeys and that is the real tragedy, not this current fiasco showing at Priya Cinema.
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Afterthoughts on Sunday, 13 November 2005

Quite a few of Ritu-P's ardent, if not moronic fans, have suggested that the acute negative reactions to their idols' work current work is because of the middle class morality of the hypocritical bengali. It is as if we like to see such things but are squeamish about admitting it.

Sorry, while that may be true in general, in this case it is far from truth. If Ritu-P wishes to be bold with his experiments with truth, let him get our stars from Tollygunge to shed their inhibitions like Monica Bellucci or Sophie Marceau and show some really significant amount of bare skin together with the thudding, throbbing action that is the hallmark of "R" rated films in the US. Let him do a full frontal, full Monty and I would be delighted to recommend the same as instances of pure 'paisa vasool'. Instead, what we get in India is a few square millimetres of shoulder and ankles .... and a few choked groans ! Tchah !

1 comments:

chris 2:49 pm  

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