Friday, May 8, 2015

Amodini [dir. Chidananda Dasgupta]

Yesterday, I watched Amodini by Chidananda Dasgupta, contemporary to Satyajit Ray and a renowned film critic and writer, and also father to Aparna Sen (for this generation I should probably say grandfather to Konkona Sen). The film is a fable/satire on the problems created by the caste system, wherein marriage becomes so difficult to arrange within a given caste, that women are forced to marry old men or even infants. The titular character is the haughty daughter of a wealthy zamindar, about to enter into the rare chance of marriage to a (comparably) young man, when it turns out that the man in question has abandoned the ceremony. She is then hastily married off to the 15 year old servant boy Pundu, whom she kicks out of her chamber. Pundu goes away, and Amodini must now face the social challenges of being an abandoned wife. In the meanwhile, the film gives us some additional episodes on the issues created by the shortage of eligible high-caste men, including one where an aging husband actually demands bed money from his young bride to consummate the marriage. After many years, Pundu returns, now a rich man with a new bride. Does Amodini go back to him, and does he accept her forms the rest of the story.

While the story had potential as a humorous satire, a lot of it falls dramatically flat for me, raising neither laughter nor concern for the characters. Couple that with lots of bad acting from the cast (or should I call it inadequate direction from the maker?) and it failed to be more than a one-time watch. In the film's favor it is definitely good looking (cinematography by Madhu Ambat, who did some fine work in South Indian movies) and also has some lovely classical based music score (by a CR Chowdhury).

NFDC-Shemaroo's DVD gives an anamorphically enhanced 16:9 image of the film, soft but colorful. I am sure it trounces the previous release from MAX. The soundtrack is clean and distinct. I seemed to hear some unnecessary stereo panning and echo elements sometimes but since I am having some issue with my amp, I can't assuredly say the disc is at fault here.

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