June 26, 2015 10:26:44 am
A golden wedding anniversary. To get the full significance of that phrase, try saying it aloud. Fifty years of being together with the one you married. For better or worse. In sickness and health. In these days of ‘jhat bhaayh-pat divorce’, any couple that makes it past double digits is patted on the back. Five decades deserves a certified medal.
‘Belaseshe’ is about a man who decides he wants a divorce from his wife in the autumn of his life. Their life. A Pujo family gathering turns funereal instead of festive at this declaration: they all — son and wife, three daughters and their husbands, several grandchildren — want to know: why? What makes a man who seems to have everything, and a dutiful wife who has always put him above all else—want out?
‘Silver separations’ are all the trendy rage in the West, but it is not something that’s begun rolling out here. Or at least not been captured by the media. But it is entirely possible to grow out of marriages. To feel no connect with the long-time spouse. Just by its choice of subject, ‘Belaseshe’ demands a viewing.
And given it is Soumitra Chatterjee in the lead role, playing opposite Swatilekha Sengupta (remember them from ‘Ghare Baire’?), this film should have been a great relationship tale: what goes into making and strengthening a of marriage, and at what point does it founder?
The stunned shock dawning late on Swatilekha’s worn face has impact. The exchanges between the two people who started life as man and woman, and who have turned into ‘a habit’, have the right bitter-sweetness. But there should have been more of these: the film suffers from a loudness and an obviousness which lifts only somewhat in the second half.
This kind of film needs quiet moments, and reflection where the things not said over fifty years, bottled inside, come flooding out. It happens when Soumitra and Swatilekha find a bit of their groove: when the things she feels and wants — the crucial emotions that disappear in the ‘doing’ — finally get an airing. Is the husband arriving from work? Is it time for him to ascend the steps? Is the food ready? Will it to be to his liking?
There’s a moment, all Swatilekha’s, when she recounts the things she has done for her blissfully oblivious husband, when the film comes close to realizing its potential. But it gets dissipated in the incessant chatter, and heavily underlined dialogue.
You wonder what Ray or Rituparno would have made of the subject.
Star Cast: Soumitra Chatterji, Swatilekha Sengupta, Rituparna Sengupta, Indrani Dutta, Shankar Chakrabarty ;
Directors: Nandita Roy, Shiboprasad Mukherjee
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.