Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Teen Kanya: Monihara (The Lost Jewels)

Satyajit Ray, 1961, 49m, Bengal

Can jewelry make up for love and childlessness? Can it fill the loneliness and barrenness of a woman who is in the process of falling apart? Manimalika, lives in a mansion in the Bengal countryside somewhere around the previous turn of century. What is sure is that when Ray sets his lens to transcreate a short story of Tagore it is no surprise if the result is extraordinary and bewitching. What is surprising is to find either of them indulging in the Hitchcock genre. Also this might be the mother of another string of Hindi melodramas like Madhumati and Bees Saal Baad. Another film that comes to mind is Rebecca.

The film is a hypnotic tale of the jewel obsessed woman as she gradually descends into near psychosis. Perhaps Tagore is describing the congenital human craving for the yellow metal and whatever security it represents. Here this lust is personified in a young, beautiful and half crazed woman. Kanika Majumdar in the female lead with her wild vengeful eyes gives a powerful portrayal.

Somewhere along the way it veers off it's promise of psychological depth to turn into a full fledged spook story with wailing winds and creaking doors.

The film is part of Teen Kanya (Three Daughters) which consists of three independent stories of Tagore which Ray has filmed. This is a flawed gem which shows flashes of extra-ordinary brilliance but finally ends in a rut. At the same time, it was a delight to catch a glimpse of Tagore through Ray's eyes. And also, we can compare Ray only with Ray and nothing short of the miraculous will do. The film does not lack in magical moments and is well worth it's 49 minutes of viewing.

No comments: