Starring: Anubrata, Joyraj, Tilottama, Rii
Directed by Q
One of the most visually brilliant and aurally enchanting interpretations of Rabindranath Tagore’s musical drama Tasher Desh, Q’s cinematic adaptation is also the most erotic. He extricates the definition of freedom (Tagore’s central theme) from its literary boundaries, unshackles it from its conventional meanings and trips on it through the prism of a kind of lsd-influenced, marijuana-activated mind until it has only one meaning: liberation of the senses.
In Card Land or Tasher Desh, rules rule. Leaders lead. Followers follow. Obedience is obeyed. Dissent is unheard of. No one laughs, nor do they cry. No one makes love, they merely procreate. It is in this land by the sea that a prince arrives. He has left behind a life of confining luxury to explore the world of ‘want’. A bard, the stereotype of the poet, tells their tale. He’s an iconoclastic figure who breaks conventions as a rule. Carrying a decaying copy of Tagore’s play in his jhola, he too must break free from the definition that confines him, thus recreating Tasher Desh. “Is no theatre showing a production of Tagore’s Tasher Desh?” he asks at a ticket counter? No one is. He must step in.
Q creates a fascinating narrative in which these three worlds—as oneiric as they are real—merge and diverge. The scenes flow into each other and separate like rivers and oceans captured in stunning visuals, spilling over with bold colours in psychedelic neon and muted matte. Then they stop abruptly, like full-stops in mid-sentence, fading death-like into black, white and grey illuminating patches of peeling paint, or broken brick, or water-soaked walls. All the while we hear echos, voices and whispers, songs and chants, drums and drones. And heartbeats and footsteps.
The first part of Tasher Desh is imbued with an overwhelming sense of repressed, stifled desire (and apathy where desire has died), conveyed through ghost-like figures in stark white sighs and whispers. The colours gradually get bolder; the music and the voices louder. Hortoni, or the Queen of Hearts, (Rii), is the first to be converted. She laughs, rolls around in the sand, frolics with the prince, and she makes love. The bard breaks away from his own shackles too, and recreates the story of liberation. The movie ends with a thunderous rapped-up rendition of the Rabindrasangeet Bandh bhengey dao (Break all barriers).
Tasher Desh is punctuated with literary allusions, and injected with images from mythology and history. The Biblical image of Lucifer whispering into Eve’s ears for instance. Q sprinkles it with modern-day sights and sounds too. Imageries of Goddess Kali occur, so do b/w shots reminiscent of the films of Amitabh Chakraborty (Kaal Abhirati and Cosmic Sex).
Q’s Tasher Desh may be a caustic commentary on the way his Gandu was treated because of its sexual content. But in a market crammed with films about sensual liberation, Tasher Desh is among the most aesthetically sensitive.
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