‘Shubho Mahurat’: A Bengali Film You Must Watch

Posted by Gargi Batabyal in Culture-Vulture
February 16, 2017

Life is a strange feeling of belonging. It’s about clinging to memories and the yearning to be even more tangled in them. But memories are not always sweet. When sorrows rebound, they often take a bitter turn. Vengeance arrives. Dark as it is, vengeance often bewitches the mind. The deeds once done, often leave the person bewildered. In “Shubho Mahurat”, Rituparno Ghosh, the late director, unwinds the tale of love and revenge, tangled with memories and relationships. The watchful man has no way but to cover himself under the cloak of surreal death, which is a near invisibility.

The movie begins with a ‘Miss Marple’, which every household has. The mother. She knows the mischievous child’s feverish tantrums to not go to school. She even remains quiet when the daughter returns from the in-laws and settles in a dark corner. The movie has been dedicated to these women who have always handled the chores and remained within the four walls of the kitchen, toiling for the family. Rituparno Ghosh knew that women, often regarded to be the ‘backbone of the society’, by the intelligentsia, must be crowned with talents, not with special reservations. So, he creates Ranga pishi’s character (Rakhee), as a widow in her late 50s, having few kittens and someone who takes care of them.

“Shubho Mahurat” is obviously different from the films of that era. It is a film on the crisis of life. Even when success is achieved, satisfaction continues to remain a teddy in the hands of ambition. The watchful eyes of a loving family wane when one reaches the zenith of wishes. Actress Padmini Chowdhury (Sharmila Tagore) sees the same fate. Living in the families of in-laws, she falls in love with Sambit Roy (Sumanta Mukherjee), a fairly young movie director, while filming the movie “Praner Pradip”, and eventually marries him.

She is pregnant when she gets infected by Kakoli Sinha (Kalyani Mandal), another actress, who is suffering from a contagious disease. In the process, she delivers a spastic child, who dies at the age of 16. A bewildered and divorced Padmini, saddened by the news of her child’s demise leaves for America and doesn’t return after a long time. When she does, she comes for a fateful revenge: to avenge the death of the person, because of whom she lost her most prized belonging, her son. The revenge is successful. Kakoli Sinha dies at her place and after various misleading events, the police is put on the trail.

IPS officer Arindam Chatterjee (Tota Roy Chowdhury) befriends journalist Mallika Sen (Nandita Das) on the way. A freelance photographer, Subhankar Chowdhury (Anindya Chatterjee), falls for Mallika and tries his best to woo her. Ranga pishi also indulges in Subhankar and as a prize gets to know the big secrets related to the murder.

The story then turns from a crime potboiler to the story of an unreciprocated and unfulfilled love. Mallika asks Subhankar, “Akshathe dujonke bhalobasha jay na?” (Can’t we love two people at once?) Director Ghosh is the genius who knows that walking down the less taken road isn’t the only secret to his genre of cinema. It’s also about the film being successful. So, Rituparno Ghosh paints the canvas of “Shubho Mahurat” with a bit of glamour, but more with out of the box thoughts, bringing forth notions of neo-modern feminism, where independence is about the soul of everything. He rejoices with the essence of love and somehow provokes the audience with the simple talk of making merry in life. That life is about friendship and well-being. What Padmini did was necessary for her intolerant soul to have solace. But that is not the way. Lust is a kind of balm to the cracking nerves of the mind, but love is the emotion to put it to death.

The director Rituparno Ghosh makes “Shubho Mahurat”, a movie worth watching.

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