Mohini – The intolerable longing for love
A review of Pradipta Bhattacharya’s debut film Bakita Byaktigato (The Rest is Personal, 2013)
The night outside was buttery. Lavish fiesta lights had adorned the city. It was the day before the Durga Puja. Kolkata, once the foremost cosmopolitan city now reduced to a meagre global mufassil was trying to cover its scars with a facial makeover. The roads were incessantly overcrowded.
Cover Photo: Shamik Ghosh
It was on the same night, that an elderly couple died. Nothing extraordinary in death, old age is glorious only for the wine, not for people. They lived in an apartment, a few yards from my place, in a ghastly small alley lined with more ghastly architectural failures; but the cinematic and more banal, hotchpotch web-creatures’ euphoria about Kolkata Para (locality) culture being mere nostalgia; I had no acquaintance whatsoever with them. Ordinary people find fame only through extraordinary death. I too realized our Para-kinship after the local news covered their ill fate. They had committed suicide together, out of desperation to make ends meet in an ailing old age with little or no savings left. Their children, settlers of distant well to do lands, disremembered them, marooning them to die in an equally dying city. A death, whose stench, would be overbearing three days later, and force their fellow apartment owners to be Good Samaritans and call the Police.
Did they touch each other’s hands in the last moment? Did they kiss? If they did, was it sufficient to provide them enough solace to meet an overpowering end? Or perhaps, the same seed of lovelessness was sown in their aged conjugal live and they died together yet isolated, slowly descending into a gloomy, cold, darkness.
You may or may not find love in urbanity, but you are sure to get the same in Mohini, the magical rural hamlet in Pradipta Bhattacharya’s debut film Bakita Byaktigato (The Rest is Personal, 2013). Pramit, the documentary filmmaker protagonist of the film, in his desperate attempts to find love and make a non-fiction out of it, chanced upon Mohini through a roadside palmist. The man had his fair share of love with his two wives, one young and the other old—in a slum of Kolkata. Further prodding into the lives of two more individuals, an octogenarian widower staying in a dilapidated mansion and a lady layering her penitence for a lost love in a happily married one led to the discovery of the actual route to Mohini.
To reach, one has to be patient, for the journey trots through a little known bus-stop in rural Bengal, where one has to wait persistently for the guide to arrive. The enchanted rural landscape of the place brings to life endangered folk forms and more importantly vanishing love.
The road to Mohini is lost forever after a little sojourn to the city. The rest of the story, whether Pratik is able to find his lost love again in the concrete is too personal and outside the purview of the film. Impersonal is our longing to return to the charm of love, from the mundane urbanity of the city.