Rabindranath Tagore and his relationship with his “Notun Bouthan” Kadambari Devi has always led to much animated discussion amongst the Bengalis all over the world. For many of them the relationship was a platonic one and for some it was an illicit romance. Whatever it was, it has remained one of the favorite topics of discussion for many Bengalis. Director Suman Ghosh’s film Kadambari (based on the book “Prothom Alo” by Sunil Ganguly) was released on the 154th birthday of the Bard. Let’s check whether the director was able to make his mark with this film on the Bard’s life.
The director follows the book religiously for the portrayal of the relationship of Kadambari Devi and Rabindranath Tagore. Kadambari Devi got married into the Tagore household at the young age of nine. How she became a part of the Tagore household and also inspired Tagore in his creative pursuits forms the main crux of the story.
Director Suman Ghosh who has tried to bring to life this much talked about relationship onscreen could not strike a chord. The screenplay has much to blame as it does not touch you or evoke pathos about Kadambari Devi and her eventual suicide. The director had also taken the help of Ranjan Bandopadhyay’s book Kadambari Devir Suicide Note but the emotions of the neglected and dying lady never speak out loud. Despite the relationship tale that has been portrayed on screen, the audiences will not be able to feel any pathos for the characters. Hence it falters and the audience cannot get anything substantial from the story.
The director also has not taken much care to make the period film look credible. Many film makers before him had made films on Tagore’s novels and interpreted the novels in their own ways. But they had captured the period on screen in the most apt manner. Examples can be cited of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata and Rituparno Ghosh’s Noukadubi. These two directors have set the standards so high that the next director making a film on Tagore will have to work hard to at least achieve the minimal level of perfection. Director Suman Ghosh could not really reach that benchmark.
Bickram Ghosh’s music for the film is however soothing and goes well with the flow of the film. Ustad.Amjad Ali Khan’s sarod deserves a special mention and takes the musical treatment to the next level. Such rich classical renditions had not been heard for long in Bengali films and Kadambari sure comes as a pleasant surprise in that regard.
Camera work by Barun Mukherjee is also good. But the production design of this film is much to blame as they are not up to the mark. Sample this- Jyotindranath Tagore never aged in this film. Kadambari came to the Tagore household at a small age and then grew up to be a young woman but her husband never aged.
Due to the faulty screenplay the actors could not bring to life the characters that they were to portray onscreen. The director (I presume) devoted more time to the star value of the actors. Konkona Sen Sharma who plays the role of Kadambari Devi (sorry to say) does not have any resemblance to her (despite the hard efforts of the costume designer and the makeup artist). The comparison is evident because this being a film on the life of Kadambari Devi, her portrayal is what people would be most finicky about. However I understand that the director selected her merely for her great acting skills. But her acting skills have also not been used wisely in the film and she fails to become the Notun Bouthan that many of us seated in the audience were looking for.
Parambrata Chatterjee as Rabindranath Tagore also does not look credible. In some scenes, Parambrata the actor seemed to become dominant on the onscreen young Tagore that he was to portray.
Titas Bhaumik who plays the role of Gyanadanandini Devi fails to bring in the much needed sophistication to the character. She portrayed the role of Gyanadanandini in the same way as she is habituated to portraying the role of the scheming sister-in-law in the television serial “Tomai Amay Mile”. Sorry Titas, you surely should have done more research on the women of the Tagore household. They (especially Gyanadanandini) were suave and had an erudition marking their personalities and they did not behave in the same manner as the loud and scheming sister-in-laws of television soaps.
Srikanto Acharya as Satyendranath Tagore and Sanjoy Nag as Devendranath Tagore do not have too many scenes to contribute to the film and are fine in their bit. Koushik Sen as Jyotindranath is good in his role; would have been more credible had my earlier mentioned aspect of aging with time been taken care of.
Suman Ghosh’s Kadambari failed to make a mark in my heart; it is only the film’s music that resonates. The film certainly falls short on our expectations; and we leave it to the audience to decide if it is our high expectations to be blamed or the overall execution of this ‘Period Drama’.
Sholoana Bangaliana Rating- 2.5/5
New Bengali Film Kadambari Review by:
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.
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