Meet Sujata. She is just another next door woman whose life has become stuck in a time capsule because of the ongoing pandemic. The lockdown has pretty much locked her existence down in an enclosed space she calls home, but one that subjects her to various levels of unbearable trauma because of her spouse who physically and mentally abuses her, cheats on her, and doesn’t bother to acknowledge her agency as an individual. Their relationship is purely transactional and Sujata is just there to render her services, right from the breakfast in the morning to routine sex in the night. All this isn’t new in her life though, but the pandemic has ensured that this torture now happens round the clock, twenty four by seven. There is a Sujata living in all our neighborhoods, and we get to see their linen drying up from our terrace everyday, just that we are not bothered to find out the dirty stories behind them.
But Sujata isn’t just another next door woman sulking in her grief all along. She respects her sanity, she treasures her dignity and she is a fighter. She has isolated her own little world amidst the chaos, that has her beautiful green plants filling a certain void, her cup of darjeeling tea helping to wash down her trauma, her own little secrets of the past that she has made peace with, and her solitude that she has befriended for long now. A broken mirror helps Sujata to reflect through the broken pieces of her life, oddly mismatched cloth clippers hang through her rope of life consciously maintaining a distance from each other, the kitchen rodents are the invisible demons she is constantly chasing in life but failing to bring under control, her state of mind finds an expression through the various smells of fragrant to obnoxious, and the burnt cup cakes tell their own story of how bruised and burnt her life has been in general.
We don’t get to know all this about the seamingly ordinary Sujata all at once. We understand her gradually but deeply as we peel through the layers of her situation. In her solitude, we the audience are the friends she chooses to share herself with over a 46 min run time, and in a solo act play. We gradually get to know Sujata through all dreams and desires, her songs and her stories, her scars and her bruises, her pain and her fears, her imperfections and her darkness, and also her strength and her courage! She makes you want to go and hug her, she makes you want to just silently sit beside her and enjoy a sunset from her terrace with a pot of tea, and she wants you to be her cheer leader along the way as you quickly foresee how her redemption path towards a dignified survival is shaping up. Sujata’s spark, her spirit to fly and breathe without fear ensures that she will not let her Tasher Ghawr to crumble down. The twinkle of her mysterious eyes have conserved her dreams and her zest for life, amidst all odds, amidst her perennial pandemic of life.
A huge shout out to Sudipto Roy and Team! Sujata after all is an expression of courage and creativity that all of you represent amidst all the challenging times. This was an important story to tell, and may be it took the pandemic to tell it in such a unique format. It takes a different level of brilliance and creativity across the dimensions of a very engaging screenplay, familiar and relatable dialogues, terrific camera frames, impeccable production design, and smoothly blended music to ensure an immersive experience over 46 minutes, when you only have a single actor on the screen constantly breaking the fourth wall to unravel herself. And of course it takes the craft of an outstanding Swastika Mukherjee to pull you deep into her empty world through her everyday unassuming charm and her magnetic presence blended as one persona. It is not easy to nail down aalu thalu carelessness, childlike self pampering, earthy aat poure simplicity, and a spunky fighting spirit all at the same time, and often in the same shot and expression, but Swastika adds all of that vulnerable believability and a calming ease to Sujata. I am sure Swastika must be pleased with what she could achieve with Sujata, we surely are. It is definitely a glowing milestone of her career.
As a full fledged conversational film where a very little happens but a lot is being communicated through the little moments and expressions, the success of Tasher Ghawr solely depended on the atmospherics of Sujata’s intriguing world and the trance crafted around her; and Sudipto Roy, Swastika Mukherjee and and entire team come together to ensure all of that and more. The satisfaction is in experiencing the journey and not the destination, and it doesn’t even matter that you know from a distance where the film is heading. It is the kind of moody loner piece that you would want to watch alone, and would want to watch a few times to delayer the subtle implied nuances. After all, every little something in that house has a story to tell, a laughter to share, a scream to silence and a bruise to hide. It is an intriguing world out there and Sujata is inviting you to discover it!
Tasher Ghawr is now playing on HoiChoi with English subtitles and was directly released to digital on September 3rd. I do wish someone takes another look at the subtitles though because there is scope for making it richer and better synchronised to do full justice to the mood of this conversational film.
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