Sinha at his mellowest

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By Raja Sen's Teen Murti is a feel-good film with a dash of sorrow, says Barun Chanda. Did you/dislike Teen Murti? Tell
  • Published 14.12.09

The primary reason I wanted to see Teen Murti was because it was Tapan Sinha’s last film script. Age and ill-health denied him the opportunity of making the film on his own. Raja Sen, no mean filmmaker himself, has made the film with Tapan Sinha’s blessings.

Sen had, some time ago, come reasonably close to Sinha while making a full-length documentary on the latter. That’s when Sen first came to know about the story. But by the time Sinha finished writing the script it was much too late for him to make it.

So, what’s Teen Murti all about? It’s a story of three men and the friendship between them. Well, that’s unexceptional. We have literature replete with such tales. Three Musketeers. Three Comrades. Even filmi stories like Dil Chahta Hai. What’s different here is Teen Murti is a story of three men well past their prime. Three has-beens, so to say. Two of them are widowers. One of them is a foul-mouthed, near-alcoholic with a good-for-nothing son who’s married and lives off his father. The other is a dedicated professor, whose only son went abroad for higher studies and promptly got married there, ditching his father and girlfriend who happens to be a tenant in their house. The third friend has a wife but no issues. And what a wife at that. A cantankerous, suspicious shrew, with a raunchy, saucy maid as domestic help.

So, what does Sinha do with these elements? He brews a wholesome comedy, full of laughter and mirth, with a dash of sorrow here and there. For what good is life without sorrow?

Teen Murti is, first and foremost, a feel-good movie, warm, thoroughly enjoyable, if a trifle slow. It sees life through a tinted glass, whereby all the warts and pimples of life are filtered out. So, what remains is a mellow sun in a soft winter afternoon.

But all this brings us back to Tapanbabu again. Why did a man who unflinchingly showed the darker side of reality in such movies as Adalat Ekti Meye and Antardhan write such a mellow script at the fag end of his life? Was he getting tired of reality? (As T.S. Eliot says, we can’t bear truth for long.) And is that why he chose to turn the story into a lovely fable, a fantasy, a heart-warming memory to remember him by?

We will never know. But let’s accept this as his swansong. And let’s accept the fact that this would have been something very close to what he would have made himself. Because, Raja Sen, while no Tapan Sinha himself, has been true to the spirit of the script.

Acting is first class in Teen Murti. Dipankar De, Ranjit Mullick and Manoj Mitra as the three friends strike up a chemistry on screen. Dipankar, as the foul-mouthed, bloated, hooch-loving man, is brilliant. But, then, we knew that. Specially, if you’ve seen Banchharamer Bagan. Ranjit Mullick provides a most convincing portrayal of the lonely, idealistic professor, perhaps his best. Sabitri Chatterjee is a natural as the suspicious shrew. So is Kanchana, as the saucy maid. Music is so so. Cinematography is adequate. Or, maybe the print at Nandan is not so good. Direction is unobtrusive and professional, without being flamboyant.

Teen Murti. Viewers who are tired of watching violence and rape and murder on the screen will find it a welcome relief. You can laugh with it. Maybe, cry a little as well.