Kaalpurush (Memories in the Mist) – Intimate cinema: Review
Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s 14th feature film – “Kaalpurush” in Bengali -- is certainly his most intimate one, where he examines one of the finest human relationships, that between a parent and his children. Dasgupta’s cinema has always been very personal with not many characters. His passion has been to study such close interpersonal ties, and I have seen that since his very early days of “Duratwa” (Distance) in 1978 and “Neem Annapurna” (“Bitter Morsel”) in 1979.
“Kaalpurush” traces the unfulfilled love of a father, played with admirable restraint by Mithun Chakravarthy, whose wife (Laboni Sarkar) leaves him along with their little son suspecting a relationship between her husband and an actress. The son (Rahul Bose) grows up to be equally unhappy, having married a woman (Sameera Reddy) who is ruled by materialism. But here Bose has his two children, who dote on him, an affection that helps him to distance himself from his philandering wife.
The movie is a classic Dasgupta work where poetry and literature illuminate the screen, where the pace is languid and where the sparse frames make a powerful impact. Dasgupta does not quite believe in the largely Indian tradition of melodrama: we, therefore, see a Bose who does not react in the classical sense when he is pushed by his wife to better himself at work or when she ultimately has an extramarital fling and does not even hide it. Some may wonder whether this is natural, but probably it is given Dasgupta’s style of narration.
He has got some memorable performances from Chakravarthy (one has seen him like this only in “Mrigaya”, which was ages ago.) and even Reddy. But somewhere Bose, central to the movie, is a trifle disappointing, and one suspects that he finds it difficult to be anything else but Rahul Bose.
“Kaalpurush” was premiered in Madras/Chennai on October 19 2005, and if one is right this is the first time that a Dasgupta work was screened there. Thanks to Lights On, a recently started programme that vows to bring good cinema to Madras/Chennai, two other movies of Dasgupta were also shown just days before “Kaalpurush” was played.
(This review was published in The Hindu dated October 21 2005)