Riya Sen Shines in Rituparno Ghosh's Noukadubi (2011): Bengali Movie Review

By Aditya Chakraborty

[a still from Noukadubi]
A still from "Noukadubi"

Calcutta, May 20, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Noukadubi is the first film to have been made on Tagore on the 150th birth anniversary of the bard by Rituparno Ghosh.The film, a story essentially about relationships between four people takes us to a time where relationships had no boundaries and varied in nature even while taking into consideration the societal conditions prevailing at that point of time.

A tender romance blossoming in Kolkata between law student Ramesh and his friend’s sister Hemnalini, is nipped suddenly when his father sends an urgent and mysterious summons from his village home. There, the dutiful son is ordered to marry Susheela, daughter of a hapless widow. Ramesh refuses, confesses that his heart belongs to another, but finally relents. Hem knows nothing of all this and waits, confident that Ramesh will return soon.

After the wedding Ramesh sets out with his bride on a river boat journey back to Kolkata. On the way a fierce storm arises and the boat capsizes in the churning waters. When Ramesh gains consciousness he sees his bride. There is no one else in sight, alive or dead. The two move off, take a train to Kolkata, the bride wondering why they were not going to Kashi, but trusting his judgment implicitly.

In Kolkata Ramesh realizes the mistake he made - having brought with him another woman, Kamla and not his wife Susheela. Will Ramesh reconnect with his first love, search for Kamla or follow his responsibilities as a husband to Kamla?

A lot of things happen which might confuse the audience. In fact the film is centered around Ramesh and his relationship between Hemanalini and Kamala. There are so many changes of heart and the characters keep shifting from one layer to another, from one dimension to another and so things might seem confusing for some people. It seems that the characters keep pining for each other. Ramesh , the central character has the biggest part to play as has Hemanalini. He is caught between his duty towards a wife whom he has married because of circumstances and on the other hand you have Hemnalini who is committed towards her love for Ramesh and even remains so till the end though there is a change of heart towards Nilakshar for a short while as she thinks that he might be the perfect foil for her misery.

Theatrical Trailer: Noukadubi

Nilakshar is also a man who experiences no happiness in life, having already lost his wife once and when he again finds love, he loses it again. Kamala is besotted with her husband and loves him, yet there is no reciprocation so she chooses the ultimate of ending her life, but is unsuccessful in doing so and fate again brings her face to face with her husband later and they are united.

Jisshu as Ramesh is excellent and you understand why he is different in such films. Raima as Hemanalini and Prasenjit in his short role as Nilakshar (he appears after the interval) and are very good and you can understand they are a director’s actor or actress. The surprising performance of the film doesn’t come from any of these people because the above mentioned names, we already know what they are capable of, but when someone like Riya Sen appears in a length role and that too in a Rituparno film? She definitely doesn’t disappoint, but deserves an applause considering her acting abilities for the portrayal of Kamala, an uneducated village girl who sticks by her husband’s side till the very end and is committed towards him though he has no particular liking for her. She has also a humorous side to her when she pronounces certain words like ‘Istiri’ instead of ‘Stree’ and other such words which brings a smile on the face of the audience and eases things a bit as the atmosphere is very serious and heavy considering the nature of the film. The photo which is supposed to be of Hemnalini’s late mother definitely looked like a very young Gayatri Devi, but then it would have been a flaw. There are certain English words used which could have been avoided. The sets look original. The voice of the character playing Nilakshar’s mother seems to have dubbed by the director himself. The music is very good especially ‘Khelaghar’ sung by Parama Banerjee which has a very innovative musical score along with the lyrics. Along with Parama, the rest of the singers also don’t disappoint. Therefore a very commendable feat for Sanjoy-Raja in the absolute initial stages of their careers. The film is a little slow though.Incidenatlly Kamala and Susheela are the same person known by two different names.

The film is has also being made into Hindi called ‘Kashmakash’ and the lyrics have been penned by Gulzar for the Hindi version. Incidentally the film has been produced by Mukta Arts headed by none other than the ‘Bollywood Badshah’, Subhash Ghai.

Noukadubi (Kashmakash)
Cast: Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jishu Sengupta, Raima Sen, Riya Sen, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore
Director: Rituparno Ghosh
Producer: Subhash Ghai
Music Director: Raja Narayan Deb Sanjoy Das
Story: Rabindranath Tagore
Screenplay: Rituparno Ghosh
Dialogue: Rituparno Ghosh
Cinematographer: Soumik Haldar
Editor: Arghakamal Mitra
Art Director: Indranil Ghosh
Costumes Designer : Sabarni Das
Banner: Mukta Searchlight Films

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