Opinion Tandoor Film Club: Viewer’s Review of Chokher Bali

Opinion Tandoor Film Appreciation Club was formed not only to watch films together but also critically engage with them. Glad to see our members generously sharing their insightful perspectives regarding the film with all of us. Here is a fantastic review of the recently screened ‘Chokher Bali’ by Bob Stanley Gardner.

“After watching the movie and knowing in brief about what Rabindranath Tagore wanted to say it’s actually nice to see how Rituparno Ghosh presents a version that may seem distorted at times and really makes me question its validity in Tagore’s era.
The mammoth task that one has to take while critically reviewing a literary adaptation is to first review the literature itself. But the task was cut short by Sumit Chaturvedi. We were presented in brief Tagore’s version. It is still suggested to read the novel to form a first-hand perception. Even after watching the movie you feel a strong urge to read the novel.
The creative aggression of both writer and director may render entirely different perspectives. Where Tagore’s narrative was much ahead of his time, Ghosh could only capture a few glimpses. The societal construct which is the dominant theme of the novel is at many places compromised. For instance, the protagonist Binodini played by Aishwarya Rai is styled with long flowing locks and is strangely welcomed in a house of two short-haired widows. The only way you can tell she herself is a widow is by her white sari and the forbidden vanity which doesn’t seem odd today. But when seen from the writer’s perspective the getup presents an oxymoronic image.
The ritual of stripping a woman of her hair and vanity (which could not be bypassed) was more than a symbolic custom. It presumably deactivated the woman’s sexuality too. The director doesn’t feel the need to emphasise something obvious but clearly justifies the human aspect, as the story continually revolves around the forbidden desires.
Overall the movie was engaging. Moreover, anything that leads to Tagore is good for a try.
The session after the movie was quite insightful. All of us shared our views. Sumit explained some important techniques of film-making.
Knowing the process of cinematography and the technical framework, helps you reconcile with the director. Adapting from literature has its own limitations, portraying words visually needs skill. In the process artistic liberty becomes sine-qua-non.
Only after realising this you learn to isolate Ghosh’s work and appreciate the movie.
It’s was a good watch. Thumbs up to your hard work Sumit…..!”
Bob Stanley Gardner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, St. John’s College, Agra. He is an aesthete and due to the nature of his work he finds special interest in the existence of the human race and its diverse art and culture. 

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