Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bhuvan Shome

Mrinal Sen, 1969, 92m, Hindi

This is my first film from this acclaimed director, and it is also the one which brought him into prominence. Bhuvan Shome (Utpal Dutt) is an officer in the Railways, notoriously strict in his official dealings, and a terror among his subordinates, specially since acceptance of small bribes is a time honored way of life and an economic compulsion. A widower, he is known to have dismissed his own son. And one fine day, overcome by enuii with the stale routines of life, he sets out on a one man hunting expedition in the countryside. Not lions, just birds, the narrator (Amitabh) tells us. Khaki clad, with a gun and thick belt of bullets, self conscious and embarrassed, this grotesque unwieldly Bengali Rambo rolls country-wards on a bullock cart in lively repartees with the rustic driver, till they are chased by a bull and rescued by it's owner, the beautiful and lively Suhasini Mulay, a country lass who will be his guide and scout on the bird hunting expedition for the bulk of the film. That should do for the story.

One of the best things about the film is the musical score by the wondrous Vijay Raghav Rao, which encapsulates with love and rapture the rhythms of the desert and it's impoverished hamlets and their kindly inhabitants. The desert photography is of the finest, inviting comparison to the Japanese Woman in the Dunes. The film is superficially a comedy, and has a light touch, but in essence is a deeply humane poem about two ways of life, town and country coming face to face in mutual recognition, and it touches what may be termed the ancient subcontinental heart. Shome is unable to consume of the simple food which the rustic hosts impose on him. Flights of water fowl separate and soar as the shots are fired from the inept marksman. And somewhere far off trains churn noisily across the great plain. And a heart melts. Bhuvan Shome dances exultantly, wrenching away his necktie as the official papers fly across his office in the Railways Department. Liberation!

Mrinal Sen is no Ray shadow, he is an authentic force in his own right.


Jack L said...

Very good review,
I had never even heard of this before, it does sound most intriguing and definitely worth watch someday.
Thanks for the great review!

S. M. Rana said...

Thanks, but how many movies can a person watch?

Jack L said...

You're right, sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the massive number of films left for me to watch, even though I try and watch only the most acclaimed films and avoid all the terrible ones.
But I'm still young and I've got a lifetime of film watching ahead of me...

S. M. Rana said...

Here is a conversation between the Tempter (Mephistocles) and the Buddha.

Long time have sons of men on earth to live.
Let the good man herein no trouble take.
As babe replete with milk, so let him act,
There is no present coming on of death.

Brief time have sons of men on earth to live.
Let the good man herein much trouble take.
Acting as were his turban all-ablaze.
There is no man to whom death cometh not.