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There is this father-son conversation in the climax of 'KALPURUSH'. I quote the English DVD-subtitle version. Shumonto tells his father: "I may not have become someone, but when I see two people in love, I smile. And when I see someone eating alone, I cry." Ashvini, his father, replies wistfully: "I wish I could've lived my life like you did." These 2 lines, perhaps, comprise the gist of this new film by Buddhadev Dasgupta - director of teeny-weeny gems like 'Tahader Katha', 'Bagh Bahadur', 'Uttara' & 'Mondo Meyer Upakhyan' - which took nearly 3 years to reach the cinemas in India.
The film opens with a man called Ashvini following a younger man called Shumonto, who, we are told, is his son. It seems that the father is stalking - or haunting, rather - his son. As the film progresses and we meet Shumonto's ambitious wife, Supriya, and his mother, Koyel, who seems to be tied up with something in her past, we realise that the son is, indeed, haunted by his father who was a somebody. He was a successful doctor and they had this beautiful family, but something - or someone - comes in and this happy husband-wife-child drift apart. This drifting apart is too hard for these three to endure, and the son, we see, is unable to lead even a proper relationship with his wife.
I don't know of too many father-son films from Bollywood or other Indian language films. I've seen only Ramesh Sippy's 'Shakti' & Feroze A. Khan's 'Gandhi, my father'. Both were the powerful types with dramatic, sad endings. I've also seen 'Thevar Magan' & its Hindi remake 'Virasat', but they were different. KALPURUSH is drama, but not the powerful type. It is, like other Dasgupta films, creatively- photographed, dream-like, poetic & soft. This keeps the viewer absolutely un-prepared for the surprise ending, for the film hardly feels like a father-son film. It starts like a husband-wife story, creates the tension, goes to become a mother-son film, and then explains why it is so, why the son is so, what was his relationship like with his father, what happens to the father, the mother, what the son's wife does, and how the son carries on with his life.
It would be unfair to dub KALPURUSH strictly for Buddhadev Dasgupta fans. However, I do suggest that the viewers acquaint themselves with Dasgupta's films before going to see KALPURUSH. Dasgupta's films are often accused of having a near-invisible storyline. KALPURUSH is no different. It starts, too, in a very un-Buddhadev Dasgupta-ish way. Instead of bare landscapes of Puruliya & Midnapore, one sees the trams of Calcutta in the opening credits. It helps, though, for it is like - What is this, urban Bengal? Soon after this, the film turns typical Dasgupta. The rural Bengal, this time, are the scenic outdoor locales of coastal Orissa.
The actors are stupendous. Mithun Chakraborty is a legend. This is his second film with Dasgupta. He plays his age, suits the part, one just has to see him in this one. Rahul Bose is so silent one could feel the loss of his loser character. Sameera Reddy has looked good in just 3 films - 'Musafir', 'Migration' & 'Kalpurush'. I haven't seen 'Ami, Yasin ar amar Madhubala' so I can't comment on that. She better shift to the Bengali film industry. A mentor like Dasgupta would surely do her a lot good. Sudipta Chakraborty's Other Woman role is short, but long enough to bring in that right amount of glamour, desire & heartbreak. Labony Sarkar is natural with a capital N.
With the usual Buddhadev Dasgupta tropes in place, KALPURUSH is a visual treat. There are bare landscapes, dry leaves flying in the wind, haunting background score, mysterious folk artistes in even more mysterious costumes & masks, dilapidated, old buildings, and things rustic and antique. This time there is also the sea and an aeroplane flying right outside the open window. KALPURUSH is a film which needs to be seen.
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