WBRi Movie Review: Rituparna Sengupta Captivates Viewers in CHARULATA 2011 Bengali Movie

Dibyendu Mukherjee & Rituparna Sengupta in a scene from Bangla Movie CHARULATA 2011

Kolkata March, 3, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) Cinema is an art of expression, which if used in the right manner, could leave lasting imprints on the modern day society. Just when we begin to think that it has become an arm that can be twisted and turned to hide realities, we are sorely mistaken. Real and meaningful cinema does exist and its victory comes when it is used in the right manner to portray realities of life. ‘Charulata 2011’, directed by Agnidev Chatterjee (interview), strives to do that exactly and takes up the courage to question issues and institutions that have raised quite a few eyebrows in the past. With strong conviction it can be said that except for a few dragging minutes in the second half, the film represents a rather commendable work of art and therefore deserves accolades.

Infidelity is an issue that has often raked up a closet of dead skeletons as it prominently exists in the Indian society. To examine such a concept in a positive light is indeed challenging for any film maker, which is why the director Agnidev Chatterjee should very well be given a round of applause. ‘Charulata 2011’ is important as it re-introduces the concept of infidelity in mainstream Bengali cinema, with a refined touch.

Video: Premiere of Charulata 2011 in Kolkata

The film revolves around the life of a lonely housewife ‘Chaiti’ played by Rituparna Sengupta. ‘Chaiti’ is married to ‘Bikramjit’ (Arjun Chakraborty), the editor in chief of a newspaper. Bikramjit is a very busy man and thus struggles to strike a balance between his professional and private life. He adores his wife dearly but his responsibilities at work prevent him from spending time at home. ‘Chaiti’ is thus, deeply frustrated, and finds no meaning in the idiosyncrasies of the boring domestic life. Her miscarriage is a firm testament to the fact that their family life is on the rocks. ‘Chaiti’ however finds solace in the cyber world, through her iPad and strikes up a friendship on Facebook with a man named ‘Amal’, who happens to be a music teacher in a ‘phoren’ country. ‘Charulata 2011’ is ‘Chaiti’s’ Face book username. Over time, ‘Chaiti’ realizes that ‘Amal’ represents anything and everything that she has expected in her dream partner. This is when, ‘Bikramjit’ sends for his brother-in law ‘Utpal’ (Kaushik Sen)and his wife ‘Keya’ (Dolon Ray) in order to provide support to his beleaguered wife.  ‘Chaiti’ finds out that ‘Amal’ has plans to attend a seminar in Kolkata and so rushes to find him at the airport. They meet and their passionate talks go out of control as they end up having physical moments in the evening. But, dismissing it as a one-time affair, they promise not to talk about it or see each other ever again. But fate indeed has other plans for them, as ‘Amal’ turns out to be ‘Sanjay’ (Dibyendu Mukhopadhyay),’ Bikramjit’s’ cousin brother who arrives at his doorstep the very next day. Chaiti and Sanjay are shell shocked as they stare at each other, unable to comprehend the design that fate has drawn for them. The second half of the movie goes on to reveal startling discoveries as the trio get locked in a fierce battle of trust and belief.

Except for a few minutes of prolonged dragging of ‘Chaiti’s’ miserable life in the second half, the film moves at a steady pace and unlocks the complexities in marital relationships. Credit must certainly go to the three main roles, portrayed by Rituparna Sengupta, Arjun Chakraborty and Dibyendu Mukhopadhyay. Another person who deserves appreciation is the cinematographer Shirsha Ray who has captured some of the beautiful moments in the film using the camera. One of them is the wide pan shot of the outline of ‘Chaiti’ in the backdrop of the endless sea that certainly reminds viewers words from Tagore’s ‘Noshtonirh’.

In a world driven by moral ambiguities, the Bangla movie, which has been understandably certified "A" for adult viewers, delivers a fatal blow on irresistible sexual attraction that threatens to destroy the institution called marriage. The Western world may be comfortable with one night stands and casual sex drives, but should the cultural fabric of India be tarnished with such imitations? Does trust and belief in one another have no place in a marital relationship? The film tries to strike at that very core and is sure to leave you gasping for words.

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