Bengali Movie Review: Arekti Premer Galpo (2010) - actor Rituparno Ghosh is as brilliant as a director

By Aditya Chakraborty

Press Meet Of Arekti Premer Golpo
Press Meet: Arekti Premer Golpo - Image © Subhomoy Mukherjee / WBRi

Jan 1, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Aar Ekti Premer Galpo (Just Another Love Story) is one of the most eagerly awaited films of last year for a couple of reasons. Firstly it is definitely the first Bengali film which is about alternative sexuality and about homosexuality. Secondly a lot of people are looking forward to this film because it is about Rituparno Ghosh, as an actor and not the director. The director we have all seen, but it is the actor we are all looking forward to. The film has already been banned at Nandan as the government thinks the subject is too bold and strong for Indian audiences or rather the people of Kolkata. Therefore we can say that the initial reaction from the powers-that-may-be-have already been expressed. Also Kaushik Ganguly (Interview) and Rituparno are two different kinds of directors and directing someone like Rituparno is no easy task.

The film is a film within a film and goes into flashbacks whenever Chapal is narrating his tales. Chapal Bhaduri, the most noted actor of jatra who used to potray woman’s roles though he is a man is the subject of a film being made by Abhiroop Sen, a Delhi based filmmaker. Abhiroop who is openly gay and lives with his cinematographer, Basu, has as lot of things in common with Chapal as they are both gay (though Chapal could ever express it and was ridiculed throughout his life) though Abhiroop is much more open in today’s society in his beliefs, his dresses and the way he carries himself. Maybe that is the reason why he is comfortable on making a film on such a subject. Basu is bisexual and his wife is aware about their relationship. Abhiroop always feels as if he is a woman trapped in a man’s body. There is immense tension between Basu and Abhiroop as Basu is playing a balancing act between Abhi and Rani and their relationship might even snap.

After they begin shooting, strong objections are raised by the media and the people in general when they come to know about the film’s content; they raise a hue and cry about it and the film’s director. The team is forced to seek alternative pastures and are helped by Uday, a France based photographer who offers his ancestral home for the shooting. The crew members of the film also double up as actors in the film. Abhi plays Chapal Rani, Basu plays Kumarbabu, his lover, Uday plays Tushar, one of Chapal’s lovers and Chapal plays himself. There is even a sort of friction between Chapal and Abhiroop on some matters, but it is sorted out later on. When Rani arrives there one day, Basu and Abhiroop separate. There is even a confrontation between Rani and Abhi. Abhi even comes to know that Rani is pregnant and this shocks him though he is happy for the couple. He knows this will make Basu further move away from Abhi. After the shooting gets over, Basu and Rani go away and so does Abhi to their own different places.

The flashbacks in the films are always shown with the present and one can draw a comparison with each of the characters. Like for example Chapal can be compared to Abhi who plays him, Basu to Kumarbabu, Uday to Tushar and that helps the audience to connect each of these characters. One feels that Abhi is made to go through the exact routine that Chapal had to go through and both of them are victims of destiny. Both of them can understand each other best because both have faced alienation, rejection and then deprivation from the society and maybe even their loved ones.

The cinematography is excellent. Rituparno, the actor is brilliant as both Abhi (the young openly gay director) and as young Chapal, the woman trapped in a man’s body who is used by Kumarbabu in particular to serve his own needs). Perhaps only he could potray and was the only person who was acting in such roles given the dimension of roles in the film because in real life too, he has always been open in expressing his sexuality and this role or roles are basically tailor made for him. Jisshu is good as both Tushar and Uday though his role is a bit short. Indraneil as Basu as done his job. Raima as Momo, the E.P of the film lends solidity to the supporting cast as does Churni in her bit role as Rani. Arindol Bagchi and Arindam Sil are perfect as Prasanta and Ashok who are times confused with their bosses's sexuality !

Chapal Bhaduri is also brilliant as himself. His acting is the most natural as he is an old timer and he is neither over awed by the situation nor can money lure him to say anything that he doesn’t wish to. He understands Abhi the best because both of them have faced exactly similar situations in life and that has shown beautifully. Also his simplicity in today’s world is one of the things to look out for in the film.

The background score in the film is excellent. Is the film about insecurity and loneliness? Is it about selfishness in today’s world? Are there going to be more films the likes of this film? Will this open the floodgates and bring social acceptance to such relationships? Will it at least change the way people think about such people if not anything else?

One has to wait a while for such answers.

The film's creative director is Rituparno himself and the way he conducts things when he is shown as a director, there are strong rumours that he has ghost directed the film. Also most of the dialogues in the film are in English. It has also won a special jury award at the Goa International Film Festival which was held recently. Chapal Bhaduri has dubbed for Rituparno when he plays the young Chapal and Sumanta Mukherjee for Indraneil when he plays Kumarbabu.