Set in Kolkata, “Memories in March” is a poignant tale of a mother trying to come to terms with her dead son’s sexual orientation and exploring herself in the process. Without delving deep into the city life humdrum, Sanjoy Nag (director) tries to capture the emotional trapeze of a bereaved mother whose interaction with her dead son’s homosexual companion takes the plot ahead. The beautiful soundtracks and soul-stirring background scores with an intermittent voice-over of her son’s old emails and messages provide a haunting yet non-paranormal effect to the overall story structure. Overlooking the attention to unnecessary detailing at times, the story manages to distinctly put across the main idea that it intended to convey.
The plot begins with Arti (mother) coming to Kolkata to collect the ashes of her dead son and immersing herself in his world which he had meticulously described in the mails. The plot takes an unexpected turn when she realises that her son was actually homosexual who could never muster the courage to reveal it. The writer henceforth tries to blend the tragedy of death with unexplored identities through interaction between Sid’s (Arti’s son) partner (Ornub) and Arti. Ornab helps Arti deal with her emotional conflicts as she confronts the hidden truths. We also see commonalities and differences between the two characters as the story progresses. While the common love for arts and aesthetics is pointed out well in one of Sid’s unsent message, the hyper-reactive tendency tinged with cinematic melodrama is something which we as audience discover when they both argue over Sid and his sexual identity. The conversation brings forth the ideological conflict between a conservative who still believes in the stereotypes and someone who has accepted their original self. Arti’s blatant allegations and uncouth remarks on Ornub represent the common ideologies of people in general who disagree to accept the reality.
The discord eventually turns into a jovial relationship when Arti realises her self-made false judgements. With metaphors like a fish aquarium and withered rose petals hidden in books, the director attempts to evoke the idea of societal pressure and bondages. The film nowhere gets preachy about the issues of homosexuality but also doesn’t refrain from asking pertinent questions like- “ What is more saddening for you Arti? The fact that your loving son is dead or the fact that he was a gay?” or like “Why can’t this world let people be themselves? The questions leave Arti in awe and she looks perplexed at the moment.
Other than asking relevant questions and revealing the unspoken grief of homosexuals, the film doesn’t culminate into a utopia where the mother completely accepts her son’s real self-disregarding her own biases. In fact, despite acknowledging her false dispositions, she still feels pretty much attached to it. Even towards the end, she is unable to accept the fact that homosexuality is not something which people succumb to due to bad parenting but is a natural process one must never question. Moreover, the storyline of a mother coming to terms with her dead son and discovering her own stance in the process reminded me of Anupam Kher’s debutant “Saransh” which also beautifully breathes life into an after death story. The essence of Saransh reverberates in one of the film’s dialogue – “If I were to go away, can I leave a bit of me with you?” “Memories in March” is a beautiful blend of love, life after death, tragedy and acceptance.