Shooting of Arohan (Bengali, 2010) in Varanasi - video via You Tube
Pinaki Chaudhuri, national award winning director of the 1998 film Sanghat (BUY DVD) starring Dolon Roy, Soumitra Chatterjee, Biplab Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakravarthy, Chitra Sen, and the 2007 film Ballygunge Court (BUY DVD) starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Mamata Shankar, Sabyasachi Chakravarthy, Tanusree Shankar, Manoj Mitra, Biplab Chatterjee has made an interesting film Aarohan (Bengali, 2010) though it is a bit negative like his previous film national award winning Ballygunge Court. When one means negative, it does not mean bad, but the subject matter is extremely depressing, morose and all his films in particular especially his last two films are very judgmental in nature. Ballygunge Court was about an address in south Kolkata whose inhabitants are all elderly couples whose children have all left for greener pastures abroad leaving them to fend for themselves and they start repenting and decide to help each other out during a crisis, it can be termed negative in today’s world as this has become a proven fact and it is expected that the parents should find ways of getting on with their lives rather than blaming their children though the children also have a responsibility towards their parents.
Arijit, a young guy comes down from the U.S to take some snaps and to explore the city of Kolkata. One day at the Maidan, he saves an old man Surya Sekhar Chaudhury from being run over. Surya Sekhar gives him his card and asks Ari to come over to his place one day. Ari goes to his house knowing fully well that Surya Sekhar is his grandfather. His identity is later revealed to Surya Sekhar who accepts him whole-heartedly as his grandson though he has no relation with Ari’s parents. Ari’s mother does try to keep in touch Surya Sekhar and his mother and tries to mend ties, but she had never been accepted by Surya Sekhar because she belonged to a different caste and their horoscopes (Ari’s father Alok and his mother) hadn’t been matched before they married. Aloke had never believed in all this and that is why he had left the house more than 25 years and had gone away and severed all ties with his parents. Surya Sekhar is a man of old principles and one of the devout believers of Astrology and thinks everything that an astrologer predicts or says will happen and nothing can ever change that. He is very stubborn and no one can change his ideology.
He decides to go to Varanasi to spend the last days of his life as his astrologer has predicted that he would live only till the age of 75 and Varanasi he must go to in order to attain ‘Moksha’-Salvation of the soul. That was what all his ancestors had been following and so he must do that. Therefore he goes to Varanasi with his wife and his grandson accompanies them as well. Over there they stay at a place called Mukti Bhavan - a place which is given on rent for a month under the condition that the occupant of the room must die within that month and some one will rent that room after that. All the rooms have such occupants with a family member to look after them. One by one the occupants start passing away within that period (though there are even a few who don’t) and that makes Surya Sekhar even more committed toward his cause. He gives up eating and he becomes very sick. Meanwhile one of the rooms has an old lady who is sick and who is constantly quarreling with her daughter-in-law and blames her son for marrying such a woman who cant conceive (in reality he is a closet gay man and nothing is wrong with his wife). Now her daughter Kasturi runs into Ari a couple of times and there is instant attraction though they cant communicate because of a language problem and she is illiterate. However attraction has no borders and on a particular rainy night, on the terrace Kasturi and Ari make love. Kasturi had decided to get pregnant by a different man to prove it to her mother-in-law that there was nothing wrong with her and that one particular night does make her pregnant. She is overjoyed and she goes and tells her mother-in-law who dies due to shock.Ari had told his parents to arrive and persuade his grandfather to take back his decision and they arrive. Everyone comes to know about Ari and Kasturi as she had spoken to Ari’s mother though all his mother understood was that Kasturi wanted to get married to Ari and did not know anything about that night.Ari is adamant on marrying Kasturi and when the others want to why, he tells them that she is carrying his child. This completely shocks everyone including his father who raises his hand on Ari but before he can do anything he suffers a heart attack and passes away. This particular incident shocks everyone immensely and completely changes Surya Sekhar who changes his belief and completely washes away his ideology. This incident makes him completely did believe in horoscopes and astrology as so far his life had been dictated by these two factors. He tears the horoscope (kushti) and throws away the torn pieces in the Ganges. Ari and his mother decide to go back to the U.S. Just as Surya Sekhar is leaving, he comes across Kasturi on the Banks who has been deserted by her husband. He decides to take her back to Kolkata and let her stay in his new house (he had decided to convert his old house in to a multi-storied building and stay in a flat) and wants her to give birth to his great grandchild whom he has accepted mentally and decides to bring up as long as he is alive.
This film is about the central character Surya Sekhar whose age old beliefs and immense belief in horoscopes and astrology takes him to Varanasi where he decides to spend his last days as he wont live beyond 75 according to his astrologer but a particular incident which takes his son’s life changes his beliefs and ideology and he gives up believing in Astrology for ever and becomes a changed man. Now this particular role played by Soumitra Chatterjee is brilliant and one agrees that perhaps no one could have replaced him in this role. Sandhya Roy (who is hardly seen nowadays) as his wife who silently bears by her husband unwillingly as he refuses to listen to anyone is good. Rituparna Sengupta as Kasturi is good and she has done a good job with her Hindi accent as she plays the part of an illiterate Bihari here. She is a seasoned actress therefore it is expected from her, but the find of the film is young debutante Samadarshi Dutta as Ari. He plays the part so naturally and beautifully till the very end that he is simply too good. He is in fact a FTII graduate. The cinematography is good; however it could have been better. The subject matter of the film had to have excellent performances from all around and the director has definitely succeeded in bringing out the best from his actors. The music director is Suparno Kanti Ghosh, son of legendary composer of yester-years Nachiketa Ghosh and he has done a good job. There are 9 songs of different kinds including a Bangla band number (performed by Bhoomi) and most of them including the Hindi number by Shreya Ghoshal is good, but one feels there were perhaps too many songs rather than the required number. The number by Shreya for Rituparna definitely has no place in the film.
The director had actually done research before making this film and found out that there is actually such a place in Varanasi called Mukti Bhavan where people go to die and if they don’t do so within a month, they are asked to leave. This actually inspired him to make the film
The film is truly a film towards ascension of a different kind and might even win many awards in the future.