Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Basu Bhattacharya and the mortality of marriage

As a director, Basu Bhattacharya has always been interested in exploring the complex, grey area in a marriage. Many filmmakers have portrayed marriage on celluloid, but no one has quite examined it in the brutal way that Bhattacharya has.
It’s clear he was cynical about the institution and showed its slow degeneration through couples who share a common, closed space, but a vacuous one. Amidst busy nothings and the grueling routine of life, the mind continues its search for love and belonging wherever it can find it, thereby creating a sordid confusion.I would think Bhattacharya grew more and more disillusioned with marital relationships in later years. Anubhav (Tanuja, Sanjeev Kumar) – with all its complexities – is still somewhat bright in its tone and tenor. It takes on bleaker shades with his next, Grihapravesh. Yet, Bhattacharya allows the marriage to survive here, as he also sees the futility of breaking away from something that has grown to become a habit.
But the anguish takes an altogether ugly turn in Avishkar (Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore), with the couple even physically abusing each other. Ironically, it is this couple that is most in love before marriage.
Bhattacharya’s films are not an easy watch, as there is a level of abstraction in his tackling of these themes. There is nothing black or white, right or wrong, moral or immoral in Basu’s world. His narrative style provided a rare depth to his stories to ironically portray emptiness.

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