Rituparno Ghosh - Indian treasure, Jyothishka Dasgupta, Rituparno Ghosh


Rituparno Ghosh enjoys a special status in Indian cinema for his mastery over the medium, the endorsement of which has come in the form of many national and international awards and a fan base that transcends linguistic barriers. His recent untimely demise has come as a shock to his followers and to discuss one of his illustrious works will be a requiem of sorts to the brilliant auteur of our times.

Although he has done many films, his second films Unishe April is very dear for reasons beyond comprehension. The multilayered gossamer-fine human relationships always offer a challenging premise for any film maker and for someone like Rituparno, this milieu must have provided an enjoyable time while making. 

Unishe April is about a complex relationship between a renowned classical dancer and her young daughter and their mutual misconceptions which very beautifully and poetically get resolved on a rainy night in April. Aparna Sen plays the role of the dancer mom Sarojini and Debashree Roy, her 26 year old daughter Aditi. Aditi loses her dad when she was eight years but he still remains an important person in her life. She does not share the same kind of bonhomie with her mother.

It is the morning of 19th April in Kolkata which is significant for Aditi for two reasons. It is her dad’s death anniversary and secondly she is expecting a long distance call from lover Sudheep. As the day starts with a Bharatnatyam class in progress, we see a restless Aditi checking for time from time to time. The story is set at a period when cell phones had not made their entry and when one would have to patiently depend on the trunk booking system and also look for the appropriate time slots (early morning or late night) to make economically viable calls.

While Aditi awaits her call, news about her mom receiving a prestigious award comes in. Mom prepares to leave for Madras to pay obeisance to her guru. Meanwhile Aditi finally gets THAT elusive call from Sudheep who calls off their relationship citing Sarojini’s profession as the reason. The contrast of situation is apparent–on one hand, you find a happy state for mom and on the other hand, it is kind of grim for the daughter.

Aditi is devastated. Mom leaves for Madras. It is a stormy evening, Aditi sends off the servants and there is no one at home. She prepares to take away her life but slowly mulling over her past with a turbulent weather for company. As luck would have it, her mom returns home unexpectedly and it sets the ball rolling for lots of cobweb clearing for Aditi and Sarojini.

On a rainy night sans electricity, the mother-daughter duo discovers themselves and their relationship over a hastily cooked meal from an old recipe book. As the morning dawns on with birds chirping around, there emerges a different dimension to their relationship.

Poignant moments are aplenty in Unishe April. Perspectives from both the sides are put across quite naturally, normally without going overboard or judgmental.

When Aditi states how she hated Sarojini for putting her in a boarding school after her dad’s demise or for not baking a cake for her birthday or how she almost broke Sarojini’s perfume bottle just because the very fragrance of it was a bitter reminder of her, it is a view point of a daughter craving for affection from her mom. She demonstrates total indifference in participating in her mom’s happy occasion.

On the other hand, there is Sarojini who tried her best to make it work with a husband who was ridden with inferiority complex but would not let her go in any direction while she was eagerly willing to give away her passion and fame for him and the family. That’s why she let him raise Aditi leaving the domain all to himself understanding clearly the image that he was painting of her to Aditi. When Sarojini states this to Aditi, it is more for clearing the air than for anything else. There are no ill feelings about her late husband. She in fact feels that her husband would have been happier with someone else and that she should have remained single.  

Of course, Aditi finds it difficult to accept this picture of her dad but Sarojini does not force feed, augmenting the dignity of her character. As the night progresses, things slowly take on a different turn and Aditi confesses that she finds her mom very beautiful and that she wants to treat her knee pain when she gets back from her Madras trip. Mom in turn invites daughter to accompany her to Madras luring her like a child with a trip to the beach.   

The ice finally breaks when Aditi admits that she wanted to be in her mom’s dance class in her younger days and how she was so envious of all those privileged girls of her age who were recipients of her attention. It sure turns out to be a pleasant surprise for Sarojini. The scene takes on a poetical hue when Aditi refuses to release her mom from her embrace even to attend a phone call. There is a child in all of us vying for attention and reassurance all the time especially from our loved ones and this frame best demonstrates it in a simple manner. Beauty indeed!

Finally when the film comes to a close with a call from Sudheep which Aditi does not want to take, Sarojini advises her to just listen to him and seals it with ‘I am there na?’

And when the end credits roll with a pleasant BGM from Jyothishka Dasgupta, you can’t help but miss Rituparno Ghosh immensely. It is definitely not fair!

Respond to jyothsna@behindwoods.com
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.



This page hosts the views of the authors of the column. The views are generally about films, movie reviews, movie news, songs, music, film actors and actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, music directors, and all others that contribute for the success or failure of a film. People looking for movies online, movie reviews, movie analysis, public response for a movie, will find this page useful.