Director: Reshmi Mitra
"Baranda" | The window of life
Reshmi Mitra does well to convert a literary marvel of Moti Nandi, Baranda (Balcony) to the big screen. This is her third film which stands out tall among all her attempts. Moti Nandi has weaved a story of love, deception, poverty blended with psychological upheavals with a tragic end. With four major characters, the film narrates a critical tale of a middle class man who suffers from a crisis of existence and is anxious of losing his love for his accidental disability. He confines himself in the balcony of his rented house and reminisces on his glorious and not so glorious past. The shooting of the film has been focused in the by lanes of north Calcutta and a particular hue is used to depict the old time frame. Most of the shots are close-ups and the scenes reverberate with the torments that the lives of characters have to go through.
Bratya Basu as Girijapati has perhaps put up his best acting performance in a film so far and has surpassed his own limits of acting on the big screen. As the film revolves around this man, he is seen in varied emotional shades in different stages of his life. Young Girijapati overcomes his hesitation for satisfying his sexual needs after being encouraged by his long time friend Mohan, and gets involved in a courtship with Runu, who is much younger than him and finally lives together with her. In the second stage of his life, he dissociates from normal life after he loses his leg in an accident and withdraws himself from life with the thought of being a handicapped. Here, his male chivalry takes a blow as his partner is the earning member of the family while he impounds himself in a solitary life in the balcony of his flat. He further envies his young paying guest Ambar, his distant cousin, who shares an intimate relationship with Runu. He finds solace from his tormented love life in his association with another partially blind girl. Bratya’s expressions carry all the intricacies and complexities of the character and make the film more than worthy a watch. Rituparna Sengupta acts well in Runu’s role. She has crafted well her frustration, anxiety, unsatisfactory conjugal life and responsibilities in her acting. Manali De requires a special mention in portraying her character. Saheb Bhattacharjee and Sumitra Banerjee fall short of expectation. Shreela Majumdar is seen to be as spontaneous as expected from her.
The continuous morbidity sometimes makes the film suffocating for the viewers, but that is the beauty of the narrative as well. The music direction by Nachikata is attractive but sometimes excess use of it seems to dilute the crunch situations. The small crutch used by Girijapati and the colour of the lens of Buli do not fit into the scheme. But above all, making a Bengali film with such a complex and difficult subject requires a bold mindset. Reshmi deserves a befitting compliment for her attempt.