Starring: Raima Sen, Riya Sen, Dhritimaan Chatterjee, Jishu Sengupta, Prosenjit
Directed by Rituparno Ghosh
Based on the Tagore novel Noukadubi, Kashmakash is a love story where fate, circumstances and coincidences play havoc with human lives. Whose lives might get aligned, how relationships may change over time—the spare and tender film deals with this and more. Kashmakash is the Hindi dubbing of the Bangla, Noukadubi.
Law student Ramesh (Jishu)’s romance with Hemnalini (Raima) gets nipped in the bud when his father orders him to marry the young widow, Susheela. He protests, but has to give in eventually. Things take a turn when the boat on which the couple travels home after the wedding capsizes in a storm and thereon, the relationships get more intricate with every plot twist.
What sets the story apart is the decorousness of the relationships, the dignity, self-respect and fortitude of the characters and how they are able to overcome their circumstances. The performances are in sync with their strength, resilience and civility. Raima brings a rare delicacy, graciousness and majesty to her portrayal of the intelligent and articulate Hemnalini. Her love of Tagore’s writing runs like a thread through the film and lends it a distinctive dimension—as does her warm and unguarded relationship with her father (Dhritimaan Chatterjee).
The production design and camera, working in conjunction, evoke the feel of the genteel Bengal of 1921. Just as the music by Raja Narayan Deb and Sanjoy Das does. Gulzar is in great form in interpreting Tagore’s verses into Hindi lyrics. The standout composition is Manwa aage bhage re sung by Shreya Ghoshal. It plays in the mind long after the film is over.
Conversely, Riya Sen as Ramesh’s unwanted bride fails to impress. In the pivotal role of the balika badhu, she is more childish than childlike. Moreover, her Hindi dubbing is irritatingly screechy. In fact, the entire dubbing effort detracts from the nuances and feel, making the conversations seem affected and halting. I’d have preferred to see the original Bangla version with Hindi subtitles.