Pandit Ravi Shankar once said that the musical instrument is like a body part for a musician, it breathes along. An instrument moulds its musician like a clay, allowing them to take shape with time.
Spending eight to ten hours every single day practicing the instrument, starting from an early age, makes an instrumentalist spend his/her lifetime to hone the skill, and perhaps just as much time is spent to find a job too. As a result, the beautiful art form of music frustrates and ends up clouding the minds of the musician with uncertainties of their future.
This week my recommendation is Bauddhayan Mukherji’s 72 mins feature film THE VIOLIN PLAYER available on Netflix.
Logline: An unemployed Bollywood session violinist finally lands up with a small solo gig with a filmmaker he met by chance, that changes everything in his life.
The film starts with the violin player (Ritwik Chakraborty) reading newspaper and sipping tea in his unkempt rented house in Mumbai. His wife (Nayani Dixit) a junior artist is seen leaving for a junior artist association meeting, leaving dishes, clothes (including her bra) to be taken care by her husband. Ritwik’s act of chasing a cockroach in the house and killing it with sinister pleasure sets the mood of the film.
The opening credit that follows, is cut well (by Arghyakamal Mitra) with the powerful music from the recording session in which our protagonist along with other violinists is seen playing, for a film music composer. On his way back home, Ritwik meets a mysterious filmmaker (Adil Hussain) by chance, at the railway station who offers him a small gig and immediate payment. Ritwik hops onto the local train along with the filmmaker for the recording unable to refuse the tempting offer. The recording with the filmmaker which takes place in a dingy, shady looking studio, changes the course of the film and the violin player’s life forever.
The film is brilliantly shot by Avik Mukhopadhyay. The art direction by Sachin Bhilare is apt and deserves a special mention. Writer-director Bauddhayan Mukherji weaves the dark undercurrent of the story on the fabric of music very well. Carefully placed shots of blackouts show the state of mind of the artist and makes it an interesting watch. Music being the backbone of the story, is clearly paid some special attention. Music directors Bhaskar Dutta and Arnab Chakroborty have done full justice to the musical sequences in the film. The opening credit when Ritwik Chakrobarty is seen playing his violin along with other violinists in the recording session is simply a well done sequence. The protagonist’s solo gig for the filmmaker is also compelling!
Ritwik Chakrobarty (also featured in Asha Jaaoar Majhe and Nirbak) yet again delivers a powerful performance, getting under the skin of a violinist. Chakraborty’s style of holding the violin, rowing it, pressing the end of the violin under his cocked head, shows fine nuances and the actor’s homework. Ritwik is definitely one of the finest actors in the country today. Adil Hussain as the filmmaker performs flawlessly as well. The film premiered at MAMI film festival in Mumbai in 2015 and later screened at Kerala film festival and The Dharmshala film festival. The film premiered internationally at the 37th Durban film festival where it won the top award of best feature film. The feature rates 6.8 on IMDB.
The Violin Player holds a mirror up to art and artists in the country today, whose greatest skill is the art of survival.
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(Shweta Basu Prasad is a national award winning actress, famed for Makdee, Iqbal and television show Chandra Nandini. Shweta is a graduate in mass media and journalism.)