Tagore with a twist

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  • Published 9.08.08

Mon Amour: Shesher Kobita Revisited has nothing to do with Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Shesher Kobita, rightly claims the disclaimer. What debutant director Subhrajit Mitra (Raja) has done is pack in a whole lot of things that are of personal interest to him.

The protagonist, also called Raja (played by Saheb), is a man of many parts. He sings Rabindrasangeet, has an eye for Rembrandt (whose The Jewish Bride occupies a huge space in his drawing room and in the movie as well), loves Bach, reads Ulysses, recites Keats, Jibanananda Das and John Donne in the same breath, is the maker of an internationally-acclaimed film on Indian erotica....

And, of course, he is passionate about Tagore’s Shesher Kobita, the subject of his forthcoming film funded by foreign producers.

Mon Amour begins with the lovesick filmmaker living in his own delirious black-and-white world, where Tilottama (Rituparna) flits in and out, singing and romancing him. She’s the dream woman substitute for Brishti whom Raja loved and lost to common friend Jeet (Tota) years ago.

After wasting more than half the screen-time deliberating whether he should face his demons and meet Brishti at all, Raja finds her at his door one evening, hubby Jeet in tow. They are here for a reunion!

Then begins another long wait for some action on screen. Long pensive discussions on life, a few pointed references to their past and some Rabindrasangeet later, the gloom sets in.

Subhrajit uses a warm red light to heighten Rituparna’s red sari and red lipstick but the story soon settles down to a simple tale of two men fighting over a woman. The wife comes to know just how much her boyfriend had tried to contact her before leaving for foreign shores (but her mother had made it impossible). The boyfriend realises that his lost love still pines for him and the husband feels he is the outsider.

The tug-of-love continues in its verbose ways with all three accusing each other. It’s hilarious to see Rituparna sobbing and blaming Raja for not being able to buy her churmur for Rs 2 (which is her reason for breaking up!).

Subhrajit is right on track if all he wanted to show is the pettiness of life which is full of misunderstandings and where ego rules. But from a film with Shesher Kobita as a reference point, we sure wanted something more. If nothing else, the film could have been chopped to keep the interest going.

The saving grace is the music — Kalyan Sen Barat’s compositions sung by Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and Tagore tracks by Srikanta Acharya, Subhomita and Saheb — which has been beautifully used.

As for performances, Saheb is excellent. He does bring out the pathos in Raja. Rituparna is good but doesn’t look the right match for Saheb. Tota is commendable in his bit role of a husband left in the lurch.

The screenplay is a put-off. Yet it’s important to mention that Subhrajit does a good job of “writing poetry on celluloid”. The camera deftly plays on the light and shade to show the transformation in the characters. But he ends up stretching it all a bit too far. The film shot in 12 days seems to take ages to end.