Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

@
Profile pic

Aparna Sen’s Ghware Baire Aaj is just an armchair political statement

Story image

Sunday noon at a popular multiplex, two days into its release and almost the whole movie hall was empty! That itself came as a rude shock as I went with a lot of hope as director Aparna Sen was back with a new movie. Specially because she has been saying all over the media that her movie was inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s short story Ghare Baire and Satyajit Ray’s movie based on that story which was a classic by itself. However, Ghware Baire Aaj had nothing in common with either Tagore or Ray’s creations. Unfortunately, as a stand-alone movie also it failed miserably to make a mark. It ended abruptly, it pushed in sex scenes in between, a flourishing extra marital affair that ended even before it started with huge doses of nationalism- anti-nationalism dialogues, Hindutva, armchair socialism, Maoists, Bastar and so on. Where was the Ghar? Or where was the Baire, as portrayed in Tagore’s classic where a young wife of a zamindar is brought out from the Andarmahal to the outside world by her husband to meet his childhood friend. Aparna Sen’s Ghware Baire Aaj fails to create those two worlds and instead takes a backseat in overdoing political statements and her own judgements about present day India.

 

Imagine modern Nikhilesh making a laughable statement that his wife had never known another man before him, because she studied in an all girl’s school and in Delhi’s Lady Shriram College which is an all girl’s college! Really? Madam Sen, students of Delhi’s premiere girl’s colleges or for that matter any girl’s college across India never come across men? The first man they encounter are their husbands and that too in 21st century India? And isn’t Brinda aka Bimla, a proof-reader of Oxford University Press? An educated working woman who even smokes like an ultra-modern urbanite, yet is so infatuated with her husband’s friend reasoning that she fell for him as she had never met another man before?

I remember in our childhood, our parents used to boo away bad movies by saying the script is so poor that Golper Goru Gachhe Uthlo ie. a story that cannot convince anyone. This movie too has an extremely weak storyline and script. If Tagore’s original story or Ray’s movie brought out the deception of Swadeshi Movement through Nikhilesh and Sandip’s dialogues, Aparna Sen just imposes dialogues surrounding lynching of a Muslim boy, candlelight marches, anti-national and national debates, a 5-minute visit to Bastar with Nikhilesh happily clicking away tribals who are so underfed that they only get rice and salt to eat. And all the while Nikhilesh is covering the tribals and planning to build a hospital in Bastar, his wife is engaged in hot bed scenes with his childhood friend Sandip who she knows not even for a few weeks! The depth of relationships and the subtlety of an affair as shown by Tagore or Ray almost never got a chance to mature in Sen’s movie. It was like you meet someone, the very next day a rainstorm starts and in the backdrop of a classical rendition you start enjoying sex with ‘the other man.

There are many such practical gaps in the storyline. Imagine a woman who doesn’t know whose baby she is carrying, husband or the other man’s, goes to the doctor to abort, then decides not to, and calls her paramour, then tells her husband the baby is Sandip’s and not his. Nikhilesh forgives his wife within one night after burning more than a dozen cigarettes, despite knowing of the affair, and the very next day he gets killed by his political opponents. That pushes Brinda to kill Sandip carrying a revolver in a room full of media persons who do not even try to stop her despite seeing the revolver in her hand! And then the movie suddenly ends! And so do our expectations about Aparna Sen who seems these days to be more interested in making blanket political statements, rather than portraying them in a matured sensitive manner on the silver screen. 

The only face saver is the cast, specially the male protagonists, Anirban Bhattacharya and Jisshu Sengupta. Anirban’s impeccable English diction, his deep baritone along with Jisshu Sengupta’s emotive throw of dialogues are appreciable. Anjan Dutta no way matched Mastermoshai Monoj Mitra. Tuhina Das as the Dalit girl and later the wife of Nikhilesh was nothing short of Page 3 women activist look, the way she was dressed and the way she carried herself. If Aparna Sen really wished to make a political anti-establishment statement, we expected a much subtle way of representation, rather than bringing out chapters from everywhere and making a potpourri of the same. 

What about Hirak Rajar Deshe, wasn’t that too a protest movie? A good director always plays a storyline subtly and weaves words and stories in such a manner that it is gripping. Political statements on FB walls if made into a movie result in something like Ghware Baire Aaj. Most unfortunately, Aparna Sen did not need to hire the name of Rabindranath Tagore or Satyajit Ray to create a suspense so that people rush to watch the movie thinking it is a remake of Ghare Baire or adaptation of the same. She could have named the movie otherwise.