In Dekha (2001), Gautam Ghose makes a veiled attack against the winds of change sweeping our society. Based on a story by Sunil Gangopadhyay, all the characters in the film are caught in the web of life, sometimes owing to their flaws, or that of their spouse. Through the character of a Milton-like blind poet, played by veteran Soumitra Chattopadhyay, who lives singly in a feudal property in Central Kolkata and the many supporting characters, the societal concern of the director gets entwined into the plot, with all the characters exhibiting shades of grey, rather than black and white.
When the repentant artist (Anjan Dutt) wants to return to the family fold with his estranged wife (Debasree Roy) who lives as a tenant in the house of the poet, the reluctance of the wife is indicative of resolve and strength. However, when she develops a soft corner for a blind refugee Bangladeshi singer quite suddenly, we witness her vulnerability. This is also one of the weak links in the film.
Marital discord, Partition of the Nation, Communalism, Heritage Preservation (old printing press becoming redundant in the age of computers & laser printers), Environmental concerns of rapid urbanization& declining habitat for the birds and the marginalized of the society, a longing for Nature, Music and Poetry shines through smoothly in the narrative with the final symbolic shot showing fluttering papers around the empty chair where the poet sat (signifying his death) is a directorial signature exposing declining value being accorded increasingly to the works of good poets and writers.
As in all GG films this is beautifully shot as well. The dimming vision of the poet afflicted with glaucoma is beautifully depicted symbolically through blurring & bubbles (just like it happens when we take photographs in improper lighting, focus or atmospheric condition) when seen through the eyes of the protagonist which the camera captures inventively during the nightly sexual escapades of the bard.
In some sequences, Ghose appears to be paying his homage to Ghatak in his invocation of the pangs of partition, as also in the sequence showing the small boy enamored with the interplay of light and shadow on the walls in the house of the poet. Through the gradual losing of sight of his main character the director seems to be highlighting the darkness that is progressively engulfing us. GG doesn’t present anything that would seem to suggest that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is as layered as it can get in the cinemas.
Gautam Ghose is an actor’s director. Soumitro Chattopadhyay delivers a brilliant performance in this film. Whether it was Shatrughan Sinha in ANTARJALI YATRA or Prasenjit in MONER MANUSH or Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in PAAR, his actors have always had an opportunity to showcase their prowess in his films.
The supporting cast includes Rupa Ganguly, Indrani Halder, Haradhan Bandopadhyay & Paran Bandopadhyay.
Rating: 4.1 out of 5