14 September, 2011

Blah Blah on Bose

We were at that age when anything associated with the word 'rock' seemed cool and listening to school kids sing bad renditions of Nirvana and AC/DC songs seemed the perfectly normal thing to do on a Friday night. After an hour of some very unprofessional headbanging, the guitar gyrations became too painful for even our unrefined taste, and we wandered away from the concert, outside the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium (the version before it was transformed into the Commonwealth metallic mesh it is now). There was an enterprising fellow standing outside selling kebabs and chaat and we gratefully joined the small crowd around his stall. Soon, our turn came. We ordered kebabs, and chattered about ways we could get back home, which was a place at the other end of Delhi's unforgiving distances. Our kebabs were ready and we hungrily dug into them. 

Suddenly, a voice behind us asked, "So girls, what would you recommend?" We turned around and were startled to see the voice belonged to non other than Rahul Bose! Let me explain here. In Bombay, running into celebrities and other such applauded species is normal, even passé, if you may. But Delhi is still very uncelebrated (uncelebated? Either way seems so wrong) and thus, when we see our celebrities, we do the instinctive thing. We drool. But faced with Mr. Bose, we maintained straight faces as if running into actors was a usual affair. Perhaps it was the reluctant coolth of that summer night, or the hours of poor musical talent we had subjected ourselves to. In a very nonchalant way, we discussed with him, the succulence of the kebabs, and balminess of the night after which he sauntered off. 

Over the years, I have had the delight of encountering the Talented Mr. Bose in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, 15 Park Avenue and other such delightful offerings from the Aparna Sen Directorial House. And just when I was finally making up my mind about having a favourite hero at last, the delectable Mr. Bose did something very terrible. He decided to take part in Khatron Ke Khiladi, a reality show where celebrities face their fears by doing daredevil stunts. Pitted against models and TV soap stars, Mr. Bose, a member of the national rugby team, was in no way, a kaccha khiladi. But he fought over petty nothings, argued over rules and ethics, making ardent fans realise he looked best when hiding behind the many faces he wore onscreen. In real life, he came across as the wimpy kid who fought over everything.

And then, today, after such a long while, I bumped into the talent of Mr. Bose again. As he weaved his magic as the shy Snehamoy in The Japanse Wife. The story traces the friendship, and subsequent marriage of two pen-pals, one living in the watery world of the Sunderbans and the other in the exotically distant town of Yokohama, Japan. Spanning the course of 17 years, the lovers never meet, destined to express through the written word, each confined by the limitations of language to articulate the workings of the heart. And for me, the tragic beauty of the story lies in just that. The belief the characters had in this romanticised notion of love and companionship, marriage and loyalty. 

Against the overcast backdrop of the Sunderbans, the tale is languid but not slow. Aparna Sen (Director) Moushumi Chatterjee, is the perfect Maashi, a kind, matronly figure who loves her gossip, while Raima Sen pulls off the brilliantly subdued role of a widowed mother living in Bose's home. Scavenging for details, I watched the riverscapes of the Matla, the almost charming fumbling over the English language. And then there is his room a place made for letter writing. And for lazy afternoons under a whirring fan. Gently lit, it is the place where he keeps his Japanese curiosities, so foreign in a Bengali household, so familiar in his own.  

When I enjoy a movie, I am often apprehensive of the ending. Will it be satisfying? Will the characters die with the end or will they be allowed immortality? The Japanese Wife astonishes by making an ending as  poignant as the story. 


  1. Well, I saw the movie. It is based on an improbable premise (bordering on impossible) and is meant to be more like a fable, dwelling on perfect characters, rather than a story about conflict. If ones look at it that way, there is an imperfect word to describe it - quaint. The only thing that prevents the film from falling flat on its feet are the believable characters, encapsulated in their own private lives so completely that their fanciful interaction with the bigger world can be passed off as poetic license.

    That being said, people argue that cinema is art and it is the form that is important, not the content. The setting is serene and conducive. One could not have imagined getting away with such a fantastic love affair in a place like Delhi (perhaps Lucknow would have been able to manage). Isolated from everyone else, quite literally, by the watery walls, the marriage could even be seen as an attempt to stake claim to that larger world which would have remained out of bounds otherwise.

    And perhaps it was the distance that allowed things to be perfect. Proximity is very real.

    By the way, the Maashi is Moushumi Chatterjee. Not the director herself.

  2. Yes, it is an improbable tale and yet, as you point out, the characters make it believable, which is a feat. Their belief in their story, makes it real. How could I make the Aparna Sen-Moushumi blunder? Mortified.

  3. The header is gone. Is that intentional? Or you just don't care?

  4. @ Marvin - http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1995/03/04

  5. Yes I knew that. Maybe she doesn't think of herself as a babe.

  6. Marvin: Intentional. It's been this way for a while now.

    Saransh: So you're the one with a sense of humour. And I got the other friend :|

    Marvin: Right answer. Perhaps that's why :|

  7. You got the strip all wrong then. It is the Babes who do not care. If you do not consider yourself one, you should care. Which should translate into a header.

    You can have him by the way. He has been so desperate lately. I get irritated sometimes.

  8. Marvin, (THPTPBT) I did not get the strip all wrong. The babes do care (trust me). I am not one and so I don't. Care.

    The header of course has nothing to do with babedom.

    Saransh, sunte ho ji?

  9. Mom says babes don't care. You dispute my religion and God by saying they do. I can not tolerate such blasphemy. I am willing to allow a few edge cases. At most.

  10. Watterson definitely says babes care. And that's what we were discussing I presume.

  11. I support BABES, of course. She is right.
    Header has nothing to do with Babedom. Even Bose refers to babe as Girl, not Babe.
    How come this Babe has so (with many o's) much knowledge on babe-ology ?

    @ Marvin : Moron !!!

  12. @ Marvin: You called me desperate :@

    I will prepare Valentine for you. Wait.


  13. Sometimes, the comment threads on your blog are almost as interesting as the blog itself! Definitely make for an entertaining reading. :) :P

  14. Yes, its all happening here. Guy love, Babedom, Calvin and Hobbes. Phew!



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