Agasyta, an urban bengali who seamlessly shuttles between Ella Fitzgerald and Rabindra Sangeet, joins the Indian administration service and gets posted in the lap of India's hinterland - a ...
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Krishna alias Kris Sahani lives in New York, U.S., but decides to travel to his homeland in order to act in a movie. While Ricardo Fernandes leaves Sydney, Australia to travel to Bombay in ... See full summary »
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Konkona Sen Sharma
Agasyta, an urban bengali who seamlessly shuttles between Ella Fitzgerald and Rabindra Sangeet, joins the Indian administration service and gets posted in the lap of India's hinterland - a dingy little town called Madna... See full synopsis »
It's this novel I've been reading. It's possessing me, doctoring my mind with the blasphemous and sometimes bordering on the sensational and bizarre, thoughts of Agastya Sen, the protagonist of this Indian story. I had watched the film based on this brilliant novel, around three years ago but only recently managed to acquire the novel itself. In many ways, it has made my fondness for the film even more acute. Using the tag line of the novel itself, English August is the story of of Agastya Sen, 24, an IAS officer, who is posted to the nowhere land of Madna and finds his imagination dominated by women, literature (Marcus Aurelius) and soft drugs On several levels, most of them subliminal, there is a sense of gratification and mild relief that others before me too have gone through the similar set of emotions, circumstances and turmoil that I now find myself entwined with. And it is a source of great solace that my solitude is not necessarily as desolate as I once thought it was. However, somewhere more inexplicably, the experience has also been one of disappointment. It was almost fun not knowing that someone out there has already felt all that I am feeling right now. I was passionate about my exclusivity and now I'm paranoid about the lack of it. Agastya has shattered one of my dearest illusions that my experiences were singular, rare and therefore, consequently profound. His story is unbearably relatable. The secret fantasies that I had so laboriously harbored to be only my own have now been proved beyond doubt to be pervasive and universal Coming back to the novel- it is driving me crazy. I can share his feelings, empathize with his dislocation, cringe at his pain, revel in his reveries and completely comprehend the myriad thoughts that his hectic brain emanates. He has invaded my private thoughts, encroached upon my personal space and one of these days, I'm going to sign a paper or an affidavit to change my name to Agastya. Kunal seems like a pseudonym anyway. And that for all practical purposes, I am Agastya and Agastya is me. We're like two souls in one body- like the double yolked egg. He's like my elder twin brother, a doppelganger, a mirror image of myself but I can hardly recognize the face in the mirror. Is it my own or is it the aftermath of one of several hallucinations of Agastya, brought upon by Marijuana and compounded by Marcus Aurelius and Keith Jarret? The novel has changed, amidst other things, my perspective about the film. Earlier I considered the film as a landmark mainly because it pioneered the multitude of multiplex films and made 'art', a commercially viable proposition, being the first English language film to have done so well at the box office. Now, in my current state of mind, I think that it is a masterpiece. English speaking Bong Agastya Sen (played brilliantly by an enigmatic Rahul Bose in his debut feature) is transplanted to a small town named Madna and discovers to his disillusionment that he is quite like a foreigner in his own country when taken out of his chic, urbane and shallow social milieu. "His life till than had been profoundly urban". We accompany him in his journey through another India, fraught with anti establishment innuendos, pervert anecdotes about anything remotely carnal and elaborate fabrications (akin to the compulsive liar that was Holden Caulfield in CITR), all along trying to discover Agastya and thereby realizing our own motivations in the process, through his sojourn. Benegal's direction is adequate but he's helped by the awesome material (The screenplay incidentally was also written by Upamanyu Chatterjee- the author of the novel). Annie Hall meets Charlie Kaufman- A strong 9/10 for me. An ordinary tale told extraordinarily. Indeed. Pretenders in this genre may come and go but English August stands as a true classic of our times
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