And for the Ray drinking game: people looking through slats! DRINK!
|Click here for more filial exclamations by Soumitra.|
Side note: do any of you have strong feelings about Biswajeet? I've only seen him in a few things and find him pretty but not otherwise noteworthy, at least so far. Any recommended films?
A comedy of mustache-related shenanigans! These stem from psychological/emotional manipulation by psychiatrist Soumitra of Aparan Sen (to whom he has taken a fancy) and of her boyfriend (Satindra Bhattacharya). Soumitra and Aparna's bags get mixed up on a train, he angers her, she intrigues him, you know the drill. To someone who has only seen each film once, it does bear some resemblance to the later Gol Maal; both use the mustache as a way to signify two different types of men, and both have their male leads deploying his mustache status for personal gain.
The basic idea of an imposter using his superior intellect to get something he wants at the cost of others is such a chestnut that it needs very skilled hands to make something compelling out of it. Fortunately, the screenplay is by Ray (who also did the music) and based on a story by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, whose works are also the basis of the Apu Trilogy and Ashani Sanket. However, all the good writing in the world cannot change the fact that at its core this story sees the unchecked triumph of a very unethical person (who should be barred from professional practice at the very least), and now that I have finished the film and am no longer under the sway of the admittedly entertaining portrayal of the story, it's hard not to be frustrated by that.
Aparna is much less impressive here (1970) than she was in Teen Kanya almost a decade earlier. Fussy younger woman is not the easiest role to sell, either, and unfortunately her stomping around doesn't work as something lovable to an older, highly educated man without dredging up weird Electral stuff that I don't want to think about. She's certainly a live wire in her own way, but to me she didn't seem very pleasant. The match seems even less appropriate than it did between their worlds-apart characters in Teen Kanya, frankly. Soumitra has better chemistry and more natural, peer-like conversations with one of the other adult female characters in the movie (Gitali Roy, who is in Charulata and Mahapurush), making me wish Aparna came off as more mature. I also think the characteristics they demonstrate in the film bode ill for their romance after its end; they're both egotistical and he borders on domineering. Then again, I saw this movie without subtitles (relying on the discussion at Old Films and Me for the plot), so there may be more mutuality in their exchanges than I could discern.
Thank goodness the filmmakers gave the dual role to someone plenty capable of it. The Many Moods of Light Comedy Soumitra, with their attendant costuming and mustache (or not), contribute a lot to the pleasure of the progression of story. He has some hilarious expressions and gestures of "Fraaaaaack" when his cover is almost blown. I haven't seen much of his comedic range yet—Basanta Bilap, moments as Feluda and in Teen Kanya—but so far so good. As with Khudito Pashan, it probably isn't necessary to be a Soumitra fancier to like this film, but it helps.
|How does he make his face look so much older here than in the rest of the film? ACTING!|
I'd like to see it again, with subtitles if at all possible, hoping that the dialogues temper my misgivings and provide as much joy as the ascot and brainy specs.