Monday, April 14, 2014
Srijit Mukherji’s Jaatishwar: A Musical of Memories is truly a majestic musical memoir. While in his Baishey Srabon, Mukherji paid homage to the Hungryalist era in Bangla literature, in his latest venture Mukherji, strives to remind the audience of the Kobigaan era in Bangla music. Mukherji takes his audience on a musical journey, of the glorious past of Bangla music, a genre that has almost become redundant in the modern times.
Jaatishwar is an intertwined tale of two men, separated by centuries who have one common connection: their love for music. The movie shows how music can cross the barriers of time and space, language and culture; music is eternal and that is where the universality of Mukheji’s plot lies. The storylines of Rohit Mehta, a Gujarati boy born and brought up in modern day Calcutta and of Hensman Anthony, more popularly known as Anthony Firingee in the 19th century Bengal, unfolds in a parallel fashion, almost complimenting one another. These two men hail from two widely contrasting eras, culture, background, but are united in their passion, love, and devotion for music.
Jishu Sengupta plays Rohit, whose inclination for Bangla language, culture and music equates with Anthony Firingee’s love and passion for Bangla language and music, played by Prosenjit Chatterjee. Chatterjee flits easily between the shoes of the Portuguese merchant with a penchant for all things Bangla and as Kushal Hazra, an assistant librarian, Anthony’s reincarnation in the 21st century. Kushal Hazra is a haunted man by his past painful memories, and as he keeps shuffling between his past and present, Chatterjee evokes strong feelings within the audience with his portrayal of idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. Swastika Mukherjee plays Mahamaya, the love interest of Rohit and is a crusader of Bangla culture. She fights against the present day attitude of disdain towards Bangla culture. When her superior at the radio station tells her that the ratings of her show are dropping, she stands up for bangla music – “…Rabindra Sangeet er shonge ami band er gaan o bajai…Sudhin Dasgupta aar Salil Chowdhury o. Karon Bangla gaan bhalobhashte gele jemon Mohiner Ghoraguli shona uchit, temni Ramprasad o. Karon Nachiketa Chakraborty ebong Nachiketa Ghosh, du jonei amake niye likhechen. Karon Anjan Dutta ebong Mukul Dutta du jonei amar bhashay gaan likchechen. Karon Anupam Roy o jemon amar, Anupam Ghatak o amar. Karon Rupam Islam, Nazrul Islam shobai amar.”
Music is the very soul of Jaatishwar and Kabir Suman hit all the right chords with his immaculate arrangement. He lends a very authentic tone and style to the ‘Kobiyal Gaan’, which only goes to prove his tremendous dedication to music. Mukherji’s brilliant production design that brings alive the Shovabazaar Rajbaari during the heydays of ‘Kobiyal Lodai’ has been shot in sepia tones to bring about the air of nostalgia. The ‘Kobiyals’ played by various guest stars put up an exceptional performance. This particularly holds true for Ananya Chatterjee, who plays the role of Jogeshwari, the only female Kobiyal of note and Kharaj Mukherjee as Bhola Moira, the erstwhile champion of Kobiyal Gaan, whom Anthony Firingee finally defeats. Out of the other supporting actors with cameos in the present, Mamata Shankar, who plays Mahamaya’s widowed mother is the best of the lot. Come what may, she believes every problem can be tackled with a cup of tea.
The camera work has been flamboyant by Soumik Halder, especially the panoramic shots of the Ganges, rural Bengal or the terrace of Merlin Apartments in Tollygunge. Jaatishwar is a tribute to an era in music that has almost lost itself in the conundrum of the present times.