This masterful work of art was based on the novel of Rabindranath Tagore, who was a Bengali poet, novelist, musician, painter and playwright and is one of Bengali literature and music’s famous names. He is also the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. For the past few weeks around the world, there have been numerous festivals and events, as well as recitations of his famous works and film showings.
The play is about an exploration of marital relationships and the standing of the widow in the upper-class colonial Bengal. Binondini (Aishwarya Rai) plays the beautiful young widow who comes to work in Mahendra’s (Prasenjit Chatterjee) household as a maid. Mahendra initially refused to marry Binondini when he was shown a photo of her prior to getting married to Ashalata (Raima Sen), who then forms a warm and apparently trusting relationship with Binondini. All the while, her husband’s lust and want for Binondini grows and eventually they end up in a triangular story of friendship and illicit passion. Behari (Tota Roy Chowdhurry) who is Mahendra’s best friend and the learned holy man also a widower himself, is also intertwined between love and respect for Binondini and his friend Mahendra.
The film portrayed India in its exotic fashion. It kept the romance and adventure alive…
The film portrayed India in its exotic fashion. It kept the romance and adventure alive, all the while infusing it with passion and a strong emphasis on the need for woman to pursue education. Binondini ends up running away from all prospective marital/love endings as she displays her independence away from tradition and her displeasure with her status and situation.
Unfortunately the film was only shown twice at the BFI and any future showing of the movie in any other theatre may be difficult to predict. Luckily the BFI will be showing other works of Tagore’s through the coming months so they are well worth checking out.
Image courtesy of Chokher Bali