Friday, June 3, 2011

Remembering Tagore: Noukadubi (Kashmakash) Movie Review

-Kartik Ramaswamy

I am thoroughly convinced that Rabindranath Tagore was awarded his Nobel prize for Literature not just because of his quality of writing but because of his immense capability to think about situations that mere mortals like us cannot. He then makes us feel even closer to being just “mere” by weaving a story that is a myriad of complicated emotions way beyond our comprehension. And what probably makes us feel so regular is that we understand what he writes and are able to relate to it in a manner that no one else can probably get us to. Noukadubi is one of Gurudev’s 8 novels and if the movie is remotely close to the novel (I have made a mental note to try and pick this up) then I am certain it will be an excellent read. But then again, who are we but mere mortals to shower praise on the likes of THE Thakur. A pity I have only seen his works translated into movies and not read his works – maybe it would be beyond my understanding.

In the same breath as I am elated to have come across a story like Noukadubi, I was also extremely disappointed to realize that Kashmakash is a version dubbed in Hindi. As of now, I am as convinced about Gurudev’s greatness as I am about Subhash Ghai’s senility. Dear Mr. Ghai – you have tried to entertain us for nearly 5 decades now. It is time that you take a break. You seriously need that. How else would you explain the crappy dubbing of a movie that can be seen at worst case with sub titles? The finer nuances of Bengali can never be emulated by any other language. Now I am a Tam Bram Iyer boy born and bought up in Mumbai city but who genuinely believes that he should have been Bong. Mind you I can only understand the language and have never made an effort to speak it (regrettably) and yet, I felt the job was extremely shoddy. Much as I am a Gulzar fan, I thought the lyrics were just not in place to substitute to Tagore’s melody and sweetness. Please to be watching subtitled Bengali version not dubbed Hindi version.

Raima Sen as always has landed a plum role with that of Hem-Nalini and is as composed and calm as she always is. I would guess this is the 2nd movie that the sisters are acting together and I still believe that Riya Sen has miles to go before she sleeps. Some of the reviews call out her performance as commendable, but I was not too impressed. If speaking under your breath through your teeth as if you would hurt someone if you spoke louder is a great performance then maybe yes. Then again, I haven’t read the book so I guess I would not be in a position to interpret how the vastly over rated Rituparno Ghosh has. I have no clue to what's the big deal about him. He makes movies that are so slow that one could snooze in between 2 dialogues or even 2 frames and probably nothing would have moved anywhere. In this one, even the way everyone walks is like life in slow motion. A bit over the top I say. Jisshu Sengupta as Ramesh Babu and Prosenjit Chatterjee as Nalinaksha Chattopadhyay both provide solid performances. But then again, Noukadubi is not about acting or direction. It is the capability of the Thakur to weave a story around the complex emotions that 5 human beings go through in their day to day lives through marriage, friendship, love, parenthood and so on. 7 on 10 purely because of Rabindranath Tagore’s brilliant story writing capabilities. Thank you so very much Gurudev… and yes…belated 150th birthday!

(Kartik is extremely passionate about movies and sport and he blogs movie reviews at

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