Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay’s literary works have been made into several critically acclaimed movies, such as Pather Panchali, Chander Pahar, Distant Thunder and more. Manas Mukul Pal’s debut film, which was screened at MAMI this year, is based on the writer’s short story, Taalnabami. Like his other works, this too is set in rural Bengal, narrating the story of two young brothers, whose lives have upturned since their father’s nearly fatal accident. It is a story of innocence, yet is riddled with misery, greed, gluttony, envy, and hopelessness, which play an important role in the movie. It is not a sad story, even though the experiences of the young boys leave you heartbroken in many places. It ends on a bittersweet note that even in the worst of times, there is always hope.
Life is about to change for Gopal and his younger brother Chhotu, whose father and breadwinner of the family, is on bed after a horrible accident. Fearing his death, their mother insists that Gopal leave school and support the family. Being the elder and more responsible of the two, Gopal does odd jobs for the neighbors and sells palmyra and spinach in the local markets. Meanwhile, Chhotu accompanies him everywhere he goes. But his thoughts are far from the misery of his family. He is eager to get an invite to the Janmastomi feast at the wealthy Seth’s house, where they shall be serving lots of sweets and even pulao – a delicacy Chhotu has never had before, but dreams of it.
The three main characters of the movie have been sketched out well throughout the narrative. There’s a mother who despairs of losing everything she has, a young boy who is grieving the loss of something special to him, and an even younger boy, full of hope of something he never had. Each play their part convincingly, their emotions resonating well with the audience. The story is simple, yet it is the underlying emotions that stay with you.
A broken dream, a frail hope, the bond of brotherhood – these are the more important points of the movie, and they are depicted through a heartbreaking reality. For his debut film, Pal has done a fantastic job. His characters deliver well, the emotions hit the spot, and the movie looks beautiful even in its raw rural surrounding.
If you’re still at MAMI today, catch the film at 06.30 PM at PVR Mulund. It is not one to be missed!