Elar Char Adhyay

Char
Lyrical yet scathing

Producer : Dreamz Movies and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

Director : Bappaditya Bandopadhyay

Writer : Rabindranath Tagore

Cast : Paoli Dam, Indraneil Sengupta, Rudranil Ghosh, Arunima Ghosh, Dipankar Dey, Barun Chanda and Kamalika Chanda

Elar Char Adhyay,based on a Tagore novel, captures the ideals of the Bengal Renaissance of the 1930s and '40s. A group of young revolutionaries, led by Indranath (Indraneel Sengupta) is fighting for Independence. Ela (Paoli Dam), the group's emancipated muse feels disturbed by her love for Atin (Vikram Chatterjee), who is drawn into the movement because he loves her deeply. His involvement slowly gets critical as he begins to questions Indranath's methodology that rules out love for a woman colleague. Indranath's 'punishments' differ from person to person. Indranath does not mind Ela loving Atin but commands another young girl to get married while sending off her lover to a distant camp. Ela discovers that Atin's commitment to the movement has overshadowed his love for her. For Atin, there is no turning point.

Bappaditya Bandopadhyay has adhered strictly to Tagore's story and lived up to the challenge of bringing across a poetic, lyrical and romantic interpretation of a political novel. He includes Tagore's multi-layered satire through the British-attired Indranath who rides expensive cars and smokes foreign cigars. Atin tells Ela about how the group killed an old village woman exploiting the trust of a colleague who belonged to the same village, counted the loot while the woman lay dead and enjoyed a lavish feast with the proceeds, all in the name of 'revolution.' The film ends with Ela lying dead amidst the flames.

Bappaditya uses the flashback to open with Ela's death and Indranath's voice-over and ends with the same scene. Gautam Basu's art direction with the 'weathering' of the mansion, Ela's parents' period home, her uncle's British-influenced quarters, the party scene orchestrated just-so, the straw structure of the Durga idol carrying the resonance of past grandeur, the camera zeroing on it again and again, to the washermen's colony that becomes Atin's hideout with the dirty bed and the mosquito net askew are excellent.

Rana Dasgupta's cinematography captures the rainwashed river ghats where Ela waits for Atin, the figure of Ela against the backdrop of an open window frame and Botu (Rudraneel Ghosh) caught in a top angle shot leading the police to Atin's hideout. The tea-shop in one corner stacked with packing boxes infuse a lyrical quality to the film. Gaurav Chatterjee's music reflects Tagore's secular philosophy with three songs placed in keeping with the mood of a given sequence. There is an English song in the party scene while the fakir number suggests Ela's mother's fundamentalist attitude in contrast to Ela's progressive ideology. Indraneel appears stiff as Indranath. Rudraneel as Botu and Paoli as Ela are wonderful while Bikram as Atin is refreshing.

Elar ... is a beautiful film. But till the interval, the dialogues are too complex and philosophical for a film where the visuals speed ahead before the dialogues can register. The scenes between Ela and Atin lack the sizzling erotic chemistry that is there in the original. The dance number of the school girls is redundant.

Elar ...is a low-key, lyrical slow-paced romance that captures the period and the nature both as props for the characters and the incidents and as nature fluidly.

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