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Between Snehomoy and Miyage, Aparna Sen holds time still in a silent, sleepy pool where the only sound heard is that of two hearts beating. The only ripples are those of a hesitant longing, the only measure of depth is distance. Snehomoy is not your textbook poet — he doesn't romance gorgeous, melodious words, he pours over the dictionary to speak his mind right, and as the world laughs at the reality of his being, his only defence is an apologetic smile, before he scurries away into the shadows, into anonymity. Miyage too trips over an alien language, over attention, over the inscrutable whims of life. And when they return to their solitude, they have for company a million blunt, wobbly words, some hundred thousand miles, their quiet, lacklustre lives – and each other.
As Sen's The Japanese Wife, unfurls almost languorously on screen, your world strangely leaves behind its reality, its ATM-missed call routine, and scuttles down the muddy riverside in Sunderbans to shamelessly stalk Snehomoy as he hurries into the twilight from the shadows, to a profusion of broken, passionate words from a timid, hesitant stutter.
Sen's protagonist, played by Rahul Bose, is a math teacher in a local government school and Miyage, a Japanese girl played by Chigusa Takaku, runs a grocery store from her home in Japan. While it's difficult to believe that they populate the 21st century, Sen convincingly crafts the relationship between two pen friends, who end up exchanging wedding vows over letters. The convenient quiet of Snehomoy's life, occasionally stirred by her robust aunt's loud complaints, is shaken at its roots with the arrival of Sandhya, a young widow with a son. The devotion with which he had thrown himself into his commitment to Miyage falters at the fleeting taste of fatherhood, of responsibilities, of involvement with life at its crudest, unromantic best.