“Done to death by slanderous tongues
Was the Hero that here lies.
Death in guerdon of her wrongs
Gives her fame which never dies.”
Claudio reads the epitaph of Hero, Much Ado about Nothing, Shakespeare.
I did write the eulogy for Sushant Singh Rajput, the young actor who recently died at a young age under strange and suspicious circumstances. This is not a eulogy for him. This is a review of his last movie, Dil Bechara. I am not a movie reviewer. I have rarely, if ever, reviewed any movie (maybe, one or two, here and there). I am, though, an avid movie watcher. I am a writer. So I write not because my kitchen runs on it. I write because I just saw the movie and I also saw the reviews, for instance, one by famous movie reviewer Komal Nahata in Filminformation.com . He writes, “Suprotim Sengupta’s adapted story and screenplay (with additional screenplay by Shashank Khaitan) are not half as good as they ought to have been. The drama which unfolds looks contrived as not many scenes have the desired impact. Although the story is emotional, the sentiments often don’t touch the audience’s heart.” I would not have minded this at all, had I not read his review of Karan Johar’s Student of the Year. This is what he had written on SOTY- “It may have traces of 3 Idiots, Dil Chahta Hai and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar but elements from these films have been so intelligently incorporated that the audience doesn’t mind the inspirations as what is served to them is a masala fare full of fun and frolic.” The person who finds this brilliant adaptation not half as good as the original found the brainless torture in the name of a movie as so intelligently copied that he decides that the audience would not mind the inspirations. The only reason audiences coming out of the movie theatre after watching SOTY might not have told him was possibly because they must have been in a state of shock at the mindless mess and the torturous theatre that they had to bear for around three hours. His other complain about the movie is that it is depressing. For a seasoned movie reviewer, he totally missed the point. The movie was supposed to be depressing. If the audiences were to come out laughing from a movie which is not only a love story, rather delves deep into the deeper questions of life, love and longingness, that would have defeated the purpose. Many say that the quality of movies have went downhill possibly because the trend of having a writer write the story before the movie is made has gone almost extinct. The loss of intellectual depth has been a gain of frivolous fakeness in the stories. The feelings are fraud and stories are without depth. Unfortunately, the critics, who are in mutually dependent relationships hail such heartless stories.
It is again the old culprit, nepotism, and a small circle of entitled elites which is to be blamed. There is a group of baba logs, who have studied in fancy schools and vacationed in exotic locales all their lives and they have no clue about the subtle, many-layered human emotions. They feel in trends and love as per fashion. When the person making the movie has seen the worst of human crisis in missing a foreign vacation or turning late at a five-star party, you cannot expect him to make a movie like Kaagaz ke phool which speaks of struggle, sensitivity, pain and pathos. These movies offer no vent to human sufferings of the masses and provide no hope to those running on a very short supply of optimism.
This movie wins there. The movie stays focused on the human side in the movie, the props, the college, the imported concept of annual prom, a gay professor fit in as a caricature, promiscuous professors, seductresses in chiffons posing as chemistry teacher are nowhere to be seen.
There is a young kid, Kizzie Basu, played by Sanjana Sanghi, is endearing at the first sight. She is actually like a young kid, who is angry with the fate which seems to have shortchanged her. Suffering with Thyroid Cancer, she moves about with her portable oxygen cylinder. Having shifted from Jambia, she struggles to come to terms with her life which stares at an early and uncertain end. An only child, she is much loved by her family. The affection also is subtle, nothing overboard like the father buying the latest Car in the town to his daughter. The film walks a narrow path between being a documentary of helpless poverty and distasteful affluence. The family is middle-class, father, Saswata Chatterjee, who brilliantly portrays his only daughter dissolving in her despair. Her mother, Swastika Mukherjee, so beautiful, so real, trying hard to maintain the usual demeanor of a disciplinarian mother in the most unusual circumstance.
And in these circumstances, walks in Sushant Rajput, as a bubbly boy, who also suffering with Cancer. The girl is awestruck by Sushant’s love for life, however short it might be. With love in sight, she is able to wade off the shadows of death approaching her and from self-pity moves to a happier state of life. Those who have been in love, know that oftentimes, love is not looking at each other. Love is rather about looking out at the world together with eyes full of hopes. I have, very early in life, at a young age, made a visit to the hospital with a risk of never being able to be back out of it. At that time, in that ICU, against the scary sounds of those medical equipment, I remember holding hand of my newly-wedded wife and thinking not about each other, but about our offspring, if only I could survive then. Love always dreams and love always tried to get. Anything else is communion of taste, friendliness of nature, but love wants to look ahead. What if one has nothing to look ahead at? It is commendable that Supratim Sengupta, the writer, does not let the story fall into being a tearjerker or a stupidly predictable love story. The story flows at a philosophical level, but never gets serious enough to bore the audience. There are many dimensions to one’s life and the film remains aware of it. I particularly, remember the scene where suddenly faced with a short span of living love that the doomed couple has been granted, scared and sad, they embrace each other in Paris, and the girl blurts out- “What will happen to the mother-father? And to you?” When life is limited, one is not limited in the affection. It does not flow in one direction. It goes towards all the world, to the beloved and to the parents equally. The movie ends and the sweet, little girl in spectacles remains with you. And Immanuel Raj Kumar who limps on one leg out of the story, remains with his heel dug deep, in the hearts of the audience forever, with those young eyes, holding a tear and a twinkle together.
I loved this movie, reminded me of Ankhiyon ke Jharokhon Se. I had cried watching that, and almost cried watching this, taking due care that my daughter should not catch me crying. As I said earlier, I am not a movie reviewer. I watched this movie with great hesitation looking at the other reviews. I did not want to be disappointed with the departed. But I am glad I did.
And to those who still haven’t mended there ways and still speak with slanderous tongues, I end, again with Shakespeare in Julius Caesar-
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn him?
O Judgement! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reasons bear with me.