SHOMA A.CHATTERJI | 5 NOVEMBER, 2018
Between The Rains
Unusually moving film
Subha (Gargi Roy Choudhury) always wears saris with a touch of blue. She wears the same frames for her glasses for years together without any change towards modernity. She wears her hair long but ties it up in a bun with a pin.
Why? Because her husband, retired professor Amit Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee) who is probably in his seventies, wants her to dress so and will not have her wear anything else. In other words, Subha seems to have willingly surrendered her identity to pour it into the contours shaped by Amit to be strictly adhered to without any change whatsoever.
Does Subha express any negative reaction against this dictation? She does not because her love for Amit is so above everything else in her life that it does not occur to her that her identity is shaped, dictated and tailored by someone else. Her only fear is that if Alzheimers sets in as she suspects, he may forget her existence completely.
Srabonder Dhara, which means “the flow of the rains in Sravana” is all about how identity or the lack of it shapes out lives, destinies, ideologies and loves. Pitted against Subha’s total surrender to the dictates of her husband stands the young and very successful doctor Neelabho Roy (Parambrato Chatterjee) where Subha brings her husband for treatment.
Neelabho is sucked into his identity that has vested him with a larger-than-life attitude where old parents, a maiden sister and even his wife and daughter have no place. He lives alone on the 20th floor apartment and is about to get a BMS allotted to him by the hospital. At the same time, he has filed a divorce case against his wife and no one, including Neelabho himself understands and knows why. He wraps his identity in loneliness, social isolation and a sense of great fulfilment for having what he has though his roots are very middle class and his father is a retired school teacher.
The entire crux of this film rests on the concept of identity and its importance or the lack of it for different people with different mindsets and lifestyles. For Neelabho, the life of Subha and Amt Roy is very intriguing because he just fails to understand how or why a young and beautiful woman half her husband’s age can be so indifferent to her personal likes and dislikes and has learnt to exist without these submerged completely within the identity someone else has shaped her into.
Tiny nuggets of life presented as sub-plots show what identity truly counts for or whether it counts for at all depending not only on people but also on their circumstances. A middle-aged man breaks into tears when Subha asks him how his sick son is doing. “He is suffering from the terminal stages of terminal cancer” be cries. “How will I go on living if he dies?” He asks, washing away the very concept of identity for good.
Neelabho is surprised to find that his estranged wife has very good relations with his old parents and younger sister. Her identity as his wife is redundant but her identity as the daughter-in-law is perhaps closer than what it earlier was. In other small nugget, Neelabho, who was trying to avoid recognizing his boyhood playmate whose aunt is a patient in the hospital, finally surrenders to the man’s dogged persuasion and visits his modest home in a narrow bylane. He drives a rickshaw for a living but is very happy with his chubby wife and little girl. So, what kind of identity does this simple man crave for? Does he even wonder about his identity?
He discovers more facts about the relationship between Subha and Amit and the amazing discovery changes his entire philosophy about life and his entire idea about what identity should and does mean. He is amazed by the fact that in a world where his entire life revolves around the attitude his identity has bestowed on him, there are many women, and men like Subha who willingly wash away any concept of identity just for the love of a selfish old man who knows nothing but to satisfy his ego vicariously through his wife who is always uncertain about her own existence in his life.
Between the Rains is not about an old man losing his memory. It is more about a young woman who is afraid that this old man may forget her completely when and if he loses his memory. But will she change if he indeed forgets her? Not really because her life is completely sucked by her selfless and ceaseless love for this man who has given her nothing in return.
The low-key music, the half-finished Tagore song, lines of a poem Amit repeats but cannot remember, needlessly insulting Subha at an informal party for no apparent reason offer insights into the character of Amit Roy in a brilliant performance by Soumitra Chatterjee matched frame by frame by Gargi Roy Choudhury. Parambrato is excellent as the reserved, arrogant and proud Neelabho specially in the scene where his wife sees him sitting wearily on her doorstep one night and when she comes down to find out why, he embraces her spontaneously.
. The reason reveals itself, ever so slowly towards the end and it shapes into a lesson in human values for all of us in general and Neelabho in particular. Clouds passing over a clear blue sky, Amit standing leaning against a tree after he walks out of the nursing home Sarah, the kind-natured nurse who tries to lend a helping hand but also shares here doubts with Neelabho, offers a glimpse of a beautiful world we already know about but are not aware of.
Congratulations to the director duo Sudeshna Roy and Abhjit Guha for giving us their best film ever. Padmanabha Dasgupta’s script is really very good with tiny anecdotes of humour, satire and emotional punches collaged very well.
Between the Rains is a “learning film” for all of us and we wish we all learn something from it including this thing called “identity.”