Friday, October 31, 2008

I am the very beautiful

This is the name of a documentary film made by my good friend and senior (FTII), Shayamal Karmarkar. Before I talk of the film, I gotta talk about Shyamalda. Long back, when I was studying in the Institute, there was a strike and I was in my hometown. Once you have started a life in the Insti, being forced to be home doing nothing was synonymous to being apart from a new lover. Those were the days before emails, cell phones, I think we didnt even have a landline then.

And I got a card from Shaymal. I do not remember the contents of the card. What I cannot forget, is that, on the top-right corner of the envelope, instead of a stamp, was a sketch of Shyamal himself. He had so expertly printed it, with zig-zag edge on all sides, that the post-office had literally stamped the round black thappa on it, without realizing that this aint no stamp.

So up here are Shyamol and his heroine, Ranu. Ranu Gayan. She thinks she is very beautiful. And this makes her so. It's that simple.

And, as is obvious from the photograph, Shyamal thinks, no he feels her beauty. So he shot with her for six years, and made a film, seeing which, even I am smitten. In fact, I started the film again after it finished, because I wanted to continue looking at her.

A few years ago, in the boys hostel of FTII, when I told him that I am Ramakrishna's fan, Shyamal had confessed that he comes from the same family as the master. Like an idiot, I touched Shyamals feet, much to the embarrassment of all the folks around, including Shyamal. Afterwards, I thought, Shyamal is such a nalayak, he must have lied. I regreted touching his feet.

One of the nicest aspects of Sri Ramankrishna is the sweet sweet way he treated women. Although he was celibate, he was most loving to his wife. He never called her 'tu', but always refered to her as 'tumhi'. (Ok, that was a marathi translation, but I am no bengali, and yes, I still own Ramakrishna.) And, when Ramakrishna was sent to a umm, prostitute, he bowed down to her and said that she is Kali herself. It seems they wanted his spiritual madness to 'come down' a little, but the fellow was too far gone into samadhi.

This is a concept that has been used in many a film, but it has always remained a superficial gesture. No film maker ever came ten feet close to the original.

Till now. 'I am the very beautiful' is a film in which Shyamal has bowed to us women. As we are.
And why not, for we are the very beautiful.

I have no idea where this film is available, I got it from the HOD of a film departmnet. Maybe you can ask Shyamal? Pasting below some words that introduce the film.


The film follows a man-woman relationship, the woman incidentally being an "international" bar singer by profession and the man a film maker and also, the director of the film.

If a human being is the best plot, then Ranu is one thick plot. Over the past 6 years of filming, she has moved from one relationship to another, from one home and even one country to another. After an extremely modest upbringing in a refugee family, an abduction, a child, suicide attempts and many failed relationships later, Ranu is a total contrast to Shyamal who is well educated, well to do and of course, well respected.

Where Ranu's predicament as a poor exploited beer bar singer "inspires" a film maker to make a film, the filming of 6 odd years makes it quite clear that she knows her way around in the "male world". In a life, full of men and stories, the director is being just one among the many. But the relationship grows with the film as the two accept each other despite moral archetypes and the film ultimately, turns out to be a sign of their trust and respect for each other as human beings.

The film is a compassionate view of the struggles and dreams of a woman perceived as an outcast and also in which the film maker dares to bare his own dilemmas.

Director: Shyamal Kumar Karmakar

Producer: Sanghamitra Karmakar

Camera: Satya Prakash Rath & Gnana Sekara

Sound: Pritam Das & Bobby John

Edit: Namrata Rao

Music: Chiradip Das Gupta


JOY said...

The beauty lies in the self,
beautiful is the one who lets love flow out of self.

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Anonymous said...

Somewhere Ranu of I'm the very... reminds me of Nati Binodini(Your prostitute with Lord Ramakrishna Paramhans) whose span from material to spiritual was vast. She is like Neeta of Meghe Dhaka Tara. Only Ranu can smile sitting in the fire of hell. Male chauvinism wounded her in the process of consumtion, and yet her survival is on it now.What an irony! And she like a spiritual artist is blending all the colours. I always felt that it is lucky to be a woman! I bow down infront of her celebration of a wonderful life. Thanks for touching the right chord.

Banno said...

Hey, grasshopper, just saw 'I am the very beautiful' a few days ago. At the Alliance Francaise. And am really moved. The image of Ranu just won't go away from my mind even after so much time. I've been trying to make sense of Shyamal's role in the film, and your interpretation worked a lot for me.