I remember being obsessed with the idea of lost love after reading the book Kadambari Debi’r Suicide Note. I had gone on an excursion to Jorasanko Thakurbaari, which fuelled the fire in me to actually pursue the idea of making a film on that. The book had really grasped me. The idea that one of my idols, the one whom I considered a surreal existence was as human as you or me, falling and failing in love, was what got me thinking deeply about it.
I had found love in the humanness of the book. And that, I lost in the film Kadambari. The resemblance, and hence the reference to the book, is probably because they are both based on the same protagonist- Kadambari Devi, sister in law to the Nobel Laureate, Kaviguru Rabindranath Tagore. As the rumours go, Tagore’s Notun Bouthan fell in love with him, and committed suicide some time after he got married. And that rumour has the potential to become something amazing. But the story of Kadambari, maybe in order to appease the Censor board or just to steer clear of controversy, remains a bit bland. If one expects to see the raunchy details of one of the most influential families of Bengal, and in the suicide note whose existence remains a highly debated mystery, they will be disappointed.
But director Suman Ghosh makes up for it through his direction. He seems to consciously avoid making it unnecessarily raunchy. And that brings out the beauty of a platonic love that is cut at the stem even before it could bloom properly. He also manages to recreate the intricate details of the Tagore household, showcasing the melange of people, some trying to blend in to the mayhem of the British world, some trying to desperately stand out and get noticed, and the complicated relations between them.
Another point worth mentioning is the exceptional acting. Parambrata Chatterjee, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kaushik Sen and Titash Bhowmik fit in so wonderfully in the roles of the four vertices in this love-quadrilateral. The supporting actors are equally good, and the most mention-worthy amongst them is Srikanto Acharya. The baritone that sings some of the most lovable Rabindrasangeet also mouths heavy lines with such ease. But it is Konkona Sen Sharma who steals the show. There is a raw appeal yet innocence in her eyes, which often makes you wonder whether or not she is trying to mediate between the two men or is she just a victim of the huge age gap between her and her husband that was lost with her ‘Rabi’. Another key player in the movie is the music. Bickram Ghosh is brilliant. There is no other word to describe the maestro. The most beautiful song is Ustad Rashid Khan’s rendition of “E Bhara Badara” by Bidyapati Tagore. They form the essence of the film against the picturesque locations of a world long gone, and tie up the loose ends whenever needed.
Still, I felt like something was missing. Maybe that human touch. The vulnerability of a great man that made him so. Somewhere my heart wanted a bit more of the book in the movie. A bit more of Kadambari’s grief. A bit more of Rabindranath’s unequivocal love. A bit more of the thakurdalan, Urmila, ‘Bhogno Hridoy’. A bit more of the love that was kept under the wraps. A bit of the love that got lost in transition.
The featured image was obtained from The Universal News Network