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Life Goes On

At the outset,a couple of things make you want to cheer the very fact of a 'Life Goes On’.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | March 25, 2011 8:33:41 pm

Director: Sangeeta Anand

Cast: Sharmila Tagore,Girish Karnad,Om Puri,Soha Ali Khan,Neerja Naik,Mukulika Banerjee

Rating:**

Movie review: Life Goes On At the outset,a couple of things make you want to cheer the very fact of a ‘Life Goes On’. It looks as if it’s about to present the gracefully aging Sharmila Tagore in a role with a full rainbow range : woman,wife,mother,and yes,gasp,grandmother. Also,the film has a theme that’s rarely,if ever,at the heart of our movies : what happens to those who are left behind after the final departure of a loved one? But what starts promisingly soon founders into a film that overstates its case at every opportunity,rendering Tagore more cipher than character.

Manju ( Tagore) is the beautifully preserved wife of hard-working doctor Sanjay ( Karnad). They live in a plush five-bedroom mansion in London,and appear to be contented. They are clearly not hurting for money,and their deeply affectionate exchanges over the phone points to long,happy marriage. The sudden death of one half of the devoted couple opens a can of worms : their three daughters are living fraught lives,and something an old friend Alok ( Puri) of the couple lets slip is the sort of disclosure that can ruin the happiest of marriages.

The oldest daughter ( Banerjee) is a stay-at-home mom of two kids,unhappy with her English husband who is always on the phone with his boss ( and appears to have had an affair on the side while he’s hard at work). The middle one ( Naik) is a lesbian who is so set upon a TV career that she doesn’t seem to care about anyone else. Her partner is also white,with a very strange accent. The youngest ( Soha Ali Khan) is getting set for her first theatrical outing ( as the youngest daughter of ‘King Lear’),while trying to deal with an unexpected pregnancy : the father of the baby is,gosh,Muslim. Sanjay is set up as an unreasonable racist,with bad Partition history. A Muslim son-in-law? Perish the thought.

There’s just so much calamity that’s being thrown around that you feel under siege. The director sets up the conflict,and then waffles in the second half.. And it doesn’t help that at every point,all the characters talk relentlessly about how they are feeling,what they are doing,and what they ought to be doing,instead. The ‘King Lear’ parallels are unmissable,as Sanjay struggles with his own demons,and his daughters’ relationship with him.

Some subtlety would have done this film,which had potential,a world of good. The performers strive to be credible,particularly the seasoned trio of Tagore-Karnad- Puri. It’s a pity the film lets them down.

shubhragupta@expressindia.com

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