August 4, 2014

Chitrangada is a quest for identity - Souravi Ray

This is an entry from the "Celluloid Diary" blogging contest conducted as a part of run up to the Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival 2014. We received many entries and the jury selected few among them to be showcased. The winning entry will be published in the upcoming edition of Kolaj, the yearly magazine, published by Bengalis in Hyderabad.

Theme: বিগত ১০ বছরের মধ্যে কোনও উল্লেখযোগ্য সিনেমা যেটা তোমার ভালো লেগেছে সেটার মধ্যে এমন কি বিশেষত্ব ছিল যা তোমাকে সব থেকে বেশি আকৃষ্ট করেছে? (Think about some noteworthy Bengali films over the last decade and tell us about one which appealed to you the most. What aspect(s) of it were the most captivating, in your opinion?)

Chitrangada is a quest for identity. Rabindranath’s Chitrangada too journeyed to find her true self and finally she declares “Ami Chitrangada, rajendranandini/ Nohi devi, nohi samnya nari” – I am Chitrangada, the princess/ Not a Goddess, neither a common woman either. In Ghosh’s Chitrangada too, time and again there is reference that he wishes to be remembered as a creative, vivacious, albeit a bit eccentric person and his final realization is just the same. He never really wanted to change anything about him. He wanted some “cosmetic” stuff to probably conform to the existing norms of the society. Honestly it didn’t work out for him. When you are in search of authenticity, cosmetic is nothing but a deterrent. He realized that in his quest at the end, very similar to what Rabindranath’s Chitrangada had.

Ghosh’s Chitrangada is a multi-layered production. It touches the emotions and relationships at every level. Be it the relation between parent(s) and the child or between two male partners or even between an admirer (Mala) and his mentor (Ghosh), Ghosh deals with his signature style story-telling, very subtly, devoid of any exaggeration. And I can’t help but applaud this effort very loud. The relationships dealt here are even though very much existing but are covered up everywhere in the society. Taking that up and presenting it as is without being judgemental is something only a genius can do. Period...

However the most important statement Ghosh tries to make in this movie is that an individual’s identity is not dependant on his/her gender. And that’s why the main protagonist is probably named “Rudra” – the quintessential “ardhanarishwar”. Probably too much emphasis is given to one’s gender. In reality however, it is the soul, the being - that matters. The soul that creates, feels, contemplates, realizes and understands. And for none of these activities gender is of use or importance. 

In Chitrangada though, at the beginning Ghosh says that “it’s a story of desire”. But it transcends beyond that and appears as a quest to find oneself, going much beyond the narrowness of gender identity to an infinite realm of human psyche – where creativity matters, relationship matters, few things being sacred - matters...

[The film moved me. It is a humble effort of mine to catch the essence...]

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