May 18, 2019 7:00 pm Saturday
Mukti 1937 Bengali film screening with English subtitles Country: Indian; Year: 1937; Language: Bengali; Runtime: 115 min; Color: Black and White; Sound: Mono Studio: New Theatres
Barua’s classic adultery story tells of an artist, Prasanta (Barua) presented in the stereotypically romantic image dedicated to his vocation, paying no heed to his scandalous reputation (he paints nude models) and with a cavalier attitude to his conservative father-in-law’s (Choudhury) demands for good social behaviour. He is married to the rich Chitra (Kanan Devi). The couple are in love but neither partner is prepared to compromise their ideals. The marriage falls apart. Prasanta concedes his wife demand for a divorce and goes to the jungles of Assam, where for many years his closest associates are a wild elephant and Jharna (Menaka), the wife of an innkeeper named Pahari (P. Mullick). He also makes a sworn enemy of a local trader (Nawab/A. Mullick). Chitra marries the millionaire Bipul (Mukherjee) and they go on an elephant hunt. They kill Prasanta’s pet elephant. Since Chitra believes Prasanta to be dead he avoids meeting her, but he is forced to rescue her from the vilainous trader. Prasanta succeeds but dies at Chitra’s feet. The film interprets his death as Chitra’s final achievement of the freedom she had craved. Barua contrasts the regressive story presented as static and unresolved, both as narrative and performance, with a hyperactive environment that overwhelms the trivial nature of the lead couples’ desires. There are many sequence shots tracking through walls – including the justly celebrated ‘psychological’ opening shot as Prasanta walks through one door after another until he reaches his studio, and from interior to exterior, while nature is exemplified by mountains, trees, wind and charging elephants. This was one of the first elaborate filmic uses of Tagore’s lyrics, with the poet’s original tunes (Sahar range rang, Mesa te bobe. Tar biday belar malakhani), but one of the film’s big hits, Diner sheshe ghumer deshe, was composed originally for the film by Mullick.
The film will be introduced by Aparajita Roy Sinha, Film Critique
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