Monday, November 21, 2005

Haazar chaurasi ki Maa(Mother of 1084) -1998

Probably the most sentimental and sensitive of all nihalani movies,this is a gem of a movie.Nihalani who mostly deals with strong male characters this time deals with an old mother.The protagonist sujatha chaterji is not a feminist who wants to fight against the society but an ordinary working woman, who lived in her own small world and never thought anything outside it.Nihalani this time targets the women folk like sujatha to think beyond there homes and have social responsibility. Inspired from Jnanpith award winner maheshwatha devi's story, the main character Sujata Chatterji is such an intresting one that it made jaya bachan come out of her acting career's, 19 year break to do this movie.

The movie is the story of sujata chatterji coming to terms with her death of her son brathi chatterji. Brathi is one of those "Best and the brightest of bengal" as told by siddharth in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi.A brilliant student who gets involved in naxal activities and dies.Sujatha a mother who was totally unaware of her son's naxal links is taken back by it and she feels bad that she didn't know anything about what was going on in her son's mind. The rest of the movie is her efforts to understand her son and understand herself.

Sujatha chatterji is called to identify a body.she identifies her son amongst the lined up bodies.

She ask the police officer saroj pal(Milind gunaji) "Can i take my son back?".
for that he replies, "No we wont give the BODY to you".
Brathi chatterji has simply become dead body number 1084.

The body is cremated by the police.Except for sujatha and her daughter in law nobody is there,all the other family members are more involved in distancing themselves from brathi.Why are they distancing themselves??.why is the police not giving the body to his family members??. what is happening??.so many questions pop up in our mind.We are clueless on what exactly is happening, which exactly reflects the mind of the main protagonist sujatha chatterji.

Jaya Bachan

Govind nihalani again does his style of the protagonist fighting at different levels, a mental struggle with herself in the inside world and the struggle against the outside world.Lot of people accuse sujatha.They say that she didn't take care of her son properly, that's why he ended up in bad ways. The doubts gets to her also. Did she make a mistake in his upbringing??. Why didn't she know what was going in her son's mind.what she wrong?? that becomes her internal struggle, outside she has to cope with her husband who cheats on her and the other selfish family members who don’t care about brathi.

The movie then follows sujatha who pieces together various information’s regarding brathi to know him completely. She reads his books, visits his friends house etc. Brathi's involvement in naxal activities surprises her.For her he was that same little boy who, she had to personally take care.She tells herself that a mother stops to understand her son after a while. She carries on with the same idea that her son is still the same person who she used to know. But in reality she is not aware of the fact that the little boy who was not thinking for himself, has grown into an independent intellectual man. This realization leads her to look at him as an individual, rather than as her son and with that her admiration for her son brathi grows stronger.

A little knowledge of the naxal raising and students participation in calcutta in the late 60's and early 70's would be helpful in understanding the movie better.Check out my post on this for Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi.

Seema Biswas

Every character in the movie is beautifully done. Seema biswas is mother of somu another young guy who gets killed with brathi. Somu's mother is from a poor family and she cries for her son and feels bad about the whole incident and she forgets it and movies on.But her life remains the same, nothing changes. Whereas sujatha on the other hand does not cry out, she keeps those emotions to herself. She takes it all in and goes deeper into them and channelize them into positive action, which gives a purpose to her life.

yashpal sharma,Sandeep Kulkarni,Riju Bajaj,Joy Sengupta

This is probably the only movie that tries to make the audience sympathize with he naxalites, it gives an up close look at their lives and those who were closer to them. It gives various views of how their families suffered because of them and how their families never understood them. Here are these brilliant students who talk about MAO , Lin PAO line of total annihilation of the classs and read Vladimir MAYAKOVSKY etc, on the other hand there are family members who are either illiterate or completely unaware of any of the ideologies or dont have any wish to change the prevailing system or fighting against it.In their eyes like many other people they simply become murderers. They are not given the recognition that they fought for some purpose.And even after their death, their family members get treated badly because they were related ot the naxals.

Nandhitha Das

The movie starts with the citizen kane style narration, off a dead body with the story slowly revealing itself.The last day of brathi is played out in various scenes by different characters. Nihalani makes us work to tie these different scenes to make sense out of it.

The movie also uses the appendicitis of jaya bachan as a metaphor. Sujatha relates between the political situation that her son fought on the outside world to her own personal situation in the small world of her home.The tyranny and isolation that she faces in the house comes to an end with the breaking of her appendicitis, symbolically meaning breaking of her old world which started and ended in her family.Now after the appendicitis burst she is newly born into a broader world where the society is also part of her family, where she has social responsibilities also to take care.

One of the important thing that lot of people didn't like about the movie was the way it portrait the naxals, as saviors and people who wanted to bring revolution in a romantic way and that the violence that they committed were glossed out.Nihalani accepts those charges but says that, it is exactly what he wanted to bring out.The question of whether what the students did was right or not, so that people can discuss upon it.

Maheshwatha devi, Jaya bachan, govind nihalani, nadhitha das

Cast and credits:
Jaya Bhaduri .... Sujata Chatterji
Anupam Kher .... Dibyanath Chatterji (Brati's father)
Seema Biswas .... Somu's mother
Milind Gunaji .... Saroj Pal, Police officer
Joy Sengupta .... Brati Chatterjee
Nandita Das .... Nandini Mitra
Yashpal Sharma .... Laltu (Brati's comrade)

Milind Gunaji

This is the movie where you will see the credits say "Introducing" Nandhitha Das.Another new face in the movie was joy sen gupta who acted as brathi. Jaya bachan and anupam kher where great in the movie. Milind gunaji was also good. The way jaya eagerly listens about the fatal day from seema biswas was just beautiful.

Music is by Debajyoti mishra.

Anupam Shyam
Not sure who this other guys is, he comes as the RPG launcher kishan in drooh kaal

The original Maheshwatha devi's story ends with the breaking of the appendicitis of the sujatha character but nihalani has added so much to the story to give the beautiful climax of this movie.

Excellent story as it is .Esp i liked the metaphor where he compares with the appendicitis .
I think Art and commercial stories differ with story ,but majorly with screenply and a lot in direction .

( Just twist this story ,this becomes commercial : Son dies -Father discovers her son's true nature- ALso Joins the Naxals - Same Appendicties- FIghts - End change his mind when he sees another father of a guy whom his son shot - His appendicities goes way


But this is film is from a novel ,what is the creativity of Govind Nikhilani ? If every character decription ,incidents ,plot ,sub plots ,narration style is from Novel the creativity of Govind nihalani is restricted only to Direction and selecting the scenes .

How would you compare if the source was from an another movie ? ( which brings it to Kamal -Inspired discussion )
Now I really want to see this movie Sen. There was a movie in Malayalam, written by famous writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair and directed by Hariharan -- Aaranyakam. You should check out that movie too.

That movie also wasn't portraying naxalites as mass head-eaters, but fellow humanitarians driven by their intellectual sense. A lot of naxals were hunted down during the time of emergency. Nobody dared to ask what police done with their bodies, how they have been "dead" (murdered) in the police custody. Everyone blamed them for their violent methods, but none cared about their humanitarian side. I think if we ask the tribal people of Wayanad in north Kerala, they might give us a different answer.

@Mumbai Ramki -- When I saw the movie "The Godfather" for the first time, I thought okay, its a classic, a brilliant movie with the performances of some fine actors. Then I read the book. That's when I could appreciate the greatness of Coppola. (Although I agree that Mario Puzo joined him in the screenplay writing).
yes an intresting movie.DO check it out.

will check out Aaranyakam.But is it available in DVD?
Nice movie, missed it though. Also, didn't get a chance to read Mahashweta Devi's book.

This movie is not even shown in the movie channels and enquired about VCD/DVD of this movie, but in vain.
Sen buddy,

I just watched this movie and completely addicted to it! Thank you for referring such a wonderful movie.

PS: Aaranyakam is not available in DVD. I think its available on VCD.
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the movie is available on youtube with subtitles
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