Sunday, October 11, 2009

Antarmahal: Views of the Inner Chamber (2005)

It gets very difficult to say something about this film. I don't really want to write about this film but this has been sitting across my mind that I chose to shed them off me, by writing them down. The storyline is not a very usual one-liner and if I try to speak something on the story, it very well will be the spoiler and turns off the entire experience for a viewer.

It's a Rituparno Ghosh film with a very illustrious & beautiful star cast that includes Jackie Shroff, Abhishek Bachhan, Rupa Ganguly, Soha Ali Khan and Raima Sen. The three ladies of the cast - Rupa Ganguly, Soha Ali Khan & Raima Sen (Though Raima's is a short special appearance) all with that typical "Bengali-ness" take no time to transcend the viewer to the late 19th Century Bengal. And a special mention on the charming Soha Ali Khan who revives back the beautiful Sharmila Tagore of the 60s on-screen. A striking resemblance ...

Sharmila Tagore in Devi (above) and Soha Ali Khan in Antarmahal (below)

Two things stand out distinctly for me -

One -- The stunning & visually appealing art direction and wonderful set decoration. The sets are so minute in detailing everything that, the period feel is kept intact right from the first frame till the last one. The story is set in a Bengali Zamindari house and such a colourful art direction will definitely stay in oneself for a long time. Somebody shows you a picture or a clip without the stars of the film and you will identify - Its that Artistic and beautiful. Combine a bright and colourful cinematography with that and everything you see on-screen is beautiful.

Two -- The film offers a saddening look on the social practices and treatment of women in ancient India. We know them all from our history books but they offer only the textual knowledge -- Polygamy, Domestic violence, a foolish dependence on whatever advice the priests have got to offer etc, all portrayed with a satirical sense. Male Chauvinism over-boils and flows through out...

And, then there is a lot more the film has got to offer ... The British rule in Bengal, "Rai Bahadur" title for Zamindars, the grandeur of "Durga Pooja" celebrations, Queen Victoria etc.

A very rewarding cinematic experience it will be. The next time you watch a Bengali art, you know what to expect ...

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