Bhorer Pakhi

Bhorer Pakhi

Bad film, good acting

Story and direction: Tapan Dutta

Cast: Sreelekha Mitra, Manoj Mitra, Manu Mukherjee, Sankar Chakraborty, Amitava Bhattacharya, Rajatava Dutta, Mrinal Mukherjee and others

In constructing specific representations of women as an object of the male gaze, Indian filmmakers are yet to invent codes of non-voyeuristic vision. Director-writer Tapan Dutta has spared his audience a voyeuristic trip. He has kept away from titillating sex or stripping or presenting the sex-worker in a sensational manner.

His heroine, Pakhi (Sreelekha Mitra), is a no-nonsense sex worker. Her family does not know about this.

The older brother (Sankar Chakraborty) is not bothered and the younger brother is a confirmed alcoholic. The kid sister in high school is seen only in a single shot.

The time-span covers a single night in which Pakhi narrates the sad story of her life to her client Shuvoranjan Dutta (Rajatava Dutta), a famous writer and industrialist. He is more keen on her sob story than on her services. The film moves into flashback in bits and starts to zero back into the hotel room showing the client and service-vendor in closer degrees of emotional intimacy. The writer turns out to be the father of Pakhi's boyfriend Aseem (Amitava Bhattacharya) who ditched her suddenly to go away to US to make his own life. As the night comes to an end, so does the film.

The story is the usual one where most of the men—Pakhi's old landlord (Manoj Mitra), his ruffian son, her music teacher (Mrinal Mukherjee) lust after her. She finds it easier to accept a pimp's proposal to save her family from the dregs of poverty.

After the interval, the narrative goes completely haywire. Flashbacks of Pakhi's alcoholic brother and her father suddenly appear with their own sob stories. The pimp who lured Pakhi is found begging on the streets and talking into a cell-phone at the same time. Is he the same person? Pakhi's mother is seen running a massage parlour with her terribly dressed girls giggling away. The parlour is rounded up by an anti-trafficking squad in plain clothes and one finds Pakhi has just woken up from a nightmare! Wasn't she telling her life-story to the writer?

... contd.

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