The Telegraph
Friday , November 30 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Take a Sad Song and Make it Better

What, indeed, is a prayer?

For one like me, it is a path that I take, to make a day better. Through self-analysis. With an eye on where I come from. My roots.

For Rono’s Dadu, who utters the most beautiful lines in the film, God lives in art. In his long-forgotten violin. In Rono’s urge for self-expression as an actor.

So, when you dig out your roots and lay them bare, your nails get muddy, yes, but you truly discover where you come from. And when this self-discovery finds expression in an art-form, you pray. You surrender.

It is this surrender that makes Anjan Dutt’s Dutta Vs Dutta, perhaps one of his best films, so vulnerable. Vulnerable, and therefore, beautiful.

And to play himself, Dutt picks the most vulnerable face that I’ve seen on screen in recent times. Ronodeep Bose. He is Rono, the young Anjan. Like Anjan, his is a face and performance that will be remembered with love.

With Love from Me to You

Rono, you’ve been a brave boy. You’ve nursed your scars in silence, and blame no one for them. Despite it all, you love life. And so you can look back, with humour that is disarmingly objective, as well as with love that has understanding and forgiveness. Did you know then, when you hoped to become an actor someday, that you could also tell a story so well?

For a long long time, Rono, you couldn’t forgive your “Bapi” (Anjan Dutt) for his inability to keep you at St. Paul’s, Darjeeling. For forcing upon you his unfulfilled dreams. But were you really there to see the defeated look on his face when Tony (Srijit Mukherji), your mentor, pointed out to him his failure as a father? Did you see how lost he looked at that moment of surrender to your Didi (Arpita) and Khokada (Koushik Sen)?

You bonded then, when his paraplegia transformed him so completely, to nothing but a mere child. Remember that hint of a smile when you told him you had bagged your first film as an actor? You know, Rono, sometimes, people with the hardest exteriors, nurture the softest hearts. Your Bapi comes across as one such. He always loved you, and wanted the best for you and Didi. His children were indeed his ‘gods’. One may laugh, but you know deep down that he meant it. Contrary to your haunting nightmare, he never did ‘kill’ you, see?

How I wish he were there with his supremely confident, seductive client, Runu mashi (Roopa Ganguly) that night on Park Street, to hear you play your guitar and sing. To see his boy being himself, and doing more than justice to a song of innocence by Neel Dutt. You know, you handled the guitar like a professional; your body, your eyes, your lips, were a steal. In fact, you were so engrossed in your music, that you missed the subtle appreciation in Nandita’s, your very own Diana’s (Parno Mittra’s) eyes. Let me tell you, she loved you then.

Hard Rains Are Gonna Fall

Tony, your mentor, was right in having sent you to open your heart out to Diana. I have seen Tony speak his mind with a great deal of conviction, even with others. He is sharp in his rendering of logic and he exudes a confidence that one can’t defeat. By nature you are withdrawn, except when you decide to confront. When you do confront, you give it your all. And the pressure of speaking words that you’ve never spoken before makes you cry. I could sense that hurt when you spoke to Diana, to your lonely, alcoholic mother (Rita Kayral), in the altercation with your father. You mess it all up, and that’s such an honest mess-up… because you’re messed up inside.

But you know Rono, sometimes grown-ups do things you cannot comprehend. It does hurt. But you understand them better as you grow. You have done that, and realised that even the most wretched lives are gifted with moments that are treasured…

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

Yes…. Remember how beautifully your mother blossomed on the Braganza piano? How inspired your courtyard was, with the young and old singing Otho go Bharatalakshmi, in the agony of 1972? How happy and pretty Didi looked when she danced to Bhalobeshe shokhi, scored with so much care by Neel, and choreographed in an everyday waltz by Sukalyann Bhattacharya? How Doi (Somak Ghosh) grew feverish with commitment to his times, that afternoon on your terrace?

Even Jethu (Biswajit Chakraborty), of all people, kept a hand on your shoulder, when he asked the ever-so-flustered Subol (Debranjan Nag) to give you food when you came home scared, insecure, feeling very alone. And in his disorientation, even Chhotka (Subhasish Mukherjee) had his rare, gifted moments. Did you see his hungry look when Dadu talked about his quest?

Whisper Words of Wisdom

Dadu was the touchstone in your lives. He inspired with his presence, his insights. You were in awe of him, I could see that. It was he who transferred his power to you in that moment of blessing. It was his kind of undying bond with a star in the heavens that is Thakuma, that you had sought in your growing years, to anchor you. Knowing he has touched you deep, Dadu disappeared in the silhouetted sunset, to the strains of Edelweiss, rendered in a quiet baritone by Anjan Dutt.

Shelter From the Storm

You’re anchored now, Rono, safe and sound. Because you, in your turn, have touched those lives today. Because around you, you have friends who have touched those lives with you. How else, would Indranil Mukherjee capture those objective frames and make no effort, thankfully, to beautify them? How else would Arghyakamal Mitra set the right pace and mood? How would Tanmoy Chakrabarty know how to set up your house? How on earth would Chanda Dutt know that the lecherous Ghenti Kaku (Shankar Chakraborty) looks just that, with starched and ironed white dhuti-panjabi? And why would Orient Entertainment want those lives to be documented at all?

And, as I said earlier, Rono, you’re a brave boy indeed. It takes a great deal of courage to be honest, however dark a truth may seem. It takes guts to drop your pants. And show reality as it is… naked and unabashed.

And, it takes a lot of love to look back and say, yes, those roots are mine…yes, I belong there. It’s my family, my home.

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