Goutam Ghose on why he liked Elar char adhyay despite its drawbacks

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By (As told to Kushali Nag) What did you like/dislike about Elar Char Adhyay? Tell t2@abp.in')+]
  • Published 15.05.12


elar char adhyay

Starring: Paoli Dam, Indraneil Sengupta, Vikram, Rudranil Ghosh, Barun Chanda
Directed by: Bappaditya Bandopadhyay
Running time: 112 minutes

Tagore’s Char Adhyay is a very complex novel and the dialogues sometimes get slightly discursive, so it’s not so easy to interpret in cinema. But he (Bappaditya Bandopadhyay) did it very intelligently. He didn’t want to tell a complex story in a linear form, rather he has put Ela (Paoli Dam) in different situations so that’s why, though the film begins from the end (in the text), you don’t feel uncomfortable. It is not pronounced, it’s quite cinematic. It’s like a rondo in a music piece where you come back to the tonic.

I don’t know if people would be able to understand the dialogues now. Bengali language-er charcha toh komey gachhey. But I am sure there is an audience. When I made Moner Manush, a lot of people had told me that the audience wouldn’t understand the philosophical dialogues, but that didn’t happen. People understood and they connect if they want to.

There’s riddle, irony and metaphor in Tagore’s dialogues that are sometimes difficult to transcreate in spoken words but Bappaditya has tried to keep the original dialogues, the original lines from the text. That’s why I liked it.

A lot of people may question what had happened to Ela’s parents (played by Dipankar De and Srilekha Mukherjee) suddenly because after a point they are not there in the film. I don’t think a director should always follow the typical style of storytelling where you have to show everything. That’s why I thought that the film is like a musical movement.

Another thing which I really liked is that the film had a very limited budget but within that, art director Goutam Basu has done a very, very good job. It’s minimalist. They selected a few spots, like the bank of the Ganges and only one or two other spots that have been recreated. I liked that minimalism. There’s a small party sequence — now party sequences are never very good in Bengali films, I am sorry to say this — that is very well done.

I also liked the scenes where Ela is drenched in the rain. It’s like a leitmotif; it appears many times in the film. What I am trying to say is that the film has a style.

Paoli as Ela is quite convincing, but I’ve told her that her make-up is a little inconsistent. Her skin tone changes in a couple of scenes. Otherwise her Ela is very good, and so are the other actors. The young guy who plays Atin (Vikram) is good. He has suited the role very well. Indraneil’s is a very complex character (Indranath) and he is good in it. Actually, through this character, Tagore wanted to say rebel-der moddhey real thirst-ta kotota chhilo and romanticism kotota chhilo, so that aspect has come out in Indraneil’s character.

The background score (by Gaurab Chatterjee) is also quite good. But I told the director (Bappaditya) that there are too many songs in the film. He could have given just the mukhra, the antara wasn’t required. Because of the songs, the film drags a bit. Today people prefer fast-paced films, a few scenes are a bit repetitive. See, the concept of slow and fast in cinema is very relative. The whole mindset of the audience has changed because of television and the MTV culture, so people want something to happen all the time. So people may find the film slow. But the Tagorean world didn’t have a pace like ours, so how could he make it fast? I didn’t find it slow, frankly speaking.

It’s a good effort, a good attempt. Visually, Elar Char Adhyay is good.