Abohomaan [English: The Eternal]
Director/Writer: Rituparno Ghosh
Cast: Dipankar De, Jishu Sengupta, Ananya Chatterjee, Mamata Shankar
A Rituparno Ghosh film or even the man himself draws a number of varied reactions. In “intellectual” (doing that finger thing elaborately with a sneer) circles he is 1. revered by the urban Bengali intelligentsia as a demi-God or 2. derided as being “nyaka” (sissy) or a “sontushto shilpi” (self-satisfied artist). Interestingly, there’s truth in BOTH these statements as much as they are BULLSHIT!
Rituparno Ghosh was nothing if not a filmmaker that attracted tremendous discourse; love and ire, both at the same time. Similarly, Abohomaan deals with the utter indescribability of its protagonist and his personal relationships. Does the son love the father or hate him? Does the father love his family or is indifferent about it? Is the extra-marital affair in question right or wrong? Thing is, should ‘right or wrong’ even be a question? I loved this film! I belonged to the group who usually saw Ritu as over-rated. I don’t know about others but honestly it was because of the following reasons:
- I hadn’t seen all his films; only 1 or 2 and I had formed this theory that he only deals with “fake problems of rich people MYAAAN”
- This theory was particularly fueled by contemporary Bangla films by Tony Roy Chowdhury, Mainak Bhaumik…those ensemble urban dramas about vacuum posing as people.
- I just loved to hate someone so popular, I guess.
- Worst of all, I wasn’t old enough to understand the complexity of the relationships in his films.
Such as the ones in Abohomaan. One of my friends is a tremendous Ritu fan and has grown up with his movies as much as I have grown up watching Hollywood (and consequently getting my thinking shaped by Hollywood). And we both agreed on the fact that had I seen Abohomaan in my second year of college (which is when he was constantly goading me to watch it and I was like “Fuck that sissy shit”), I would have hated it and made a joke out of it, and I can be very cruel while dissing a movie.
Abohomaan is a movie that must, MUST be watched. The last twenty five minutes is world-class filmmaking. Period. The emotional layers and dynamics of the inter-personal relationships during that time has near-Bergman-finesse. What Abohomaan says is beautiful: You cannot explain anything in broad strokes, least of all a person and his relationships. Life is complex and we should accept it and cherish it with all its differences and confusions and CINEMA, as we know it, cannot define life. Cinema cannot be a definitive statement on life as it deals in moments. The protagonist, a veteran film director lived and breathed cinema all his life, and in the process never really saw life for what it was. He stayed aloof and detached from his loved ones and yet he was a person of love, of happiness, of warmth and it all adds up moments before he is dying in a poignant scene.
My favourite dialogue comes at the very end of the movie in a conversation between the director (Dipankar De) and his son (Jishu)
Aniket/Director: What is a film all about?
Apratim/Son: Depends. Moments maybe!
Aniket: Moments. Amra…amra sob fleeting moments ke dhore feli jano? Boli, capture! Not fair, not fair at all. (Moments. We all capture fleeting moments. That’s all. Not fair, not fair at all.)