By Taran Adarsh, May 19, 2011 - 12:05 IST



Almost two decades ago, a number of people had reservations when Mani Ratnam's Tamil film ROJA was being dubbed into Hindi. The purists were of the opinion that the essence would be lost in the process. When released, ROJA was hailed by the Hindi speaking audience as well. We also woke up to the genius of A.R. Rahman with this film. So why am I discussing ROJA now? Well, there has been a similar outrage when Subhash Ghai decided to dub Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali film NAUKA DUBI in Hindi.

Agreed, it makes good marketing sense to dub a film in Hindi since one reaches out to a wider audience in the process, but are we losing out on the film's ethnic flavor in the process? A few feel that it should have ideally been released in Bengali. Those who don't understand the language could have watched it with sub-titles in Hindi or English. But another school of thought feels, why should the Hindi audience be deprived of cinema based on Tagore's work? This debate would be never-ending, I guess.

'Naukadubi', a novel by Rabindranath Tagore, has had its cinematic interpretations in the past. A Hindi-Bengali film was made in 1947 by the much revered film-maker Nitin Bose, which starred Abhi Bhattacharya in the Bengali version and Dilip Kumar in the Hindi version. Thereafter, in 1960, Ramanand Sagar's GHUNGHAT had the same script. It's one of the most fascinating stories ever told on a delicate subject.

With KASHMAKASH, Rituparno Ghosh relives the magical imagery of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The delicate relationships and the drama have been beautifully presented on celluloid by this accomplished storyteller. Also, the film captivates the audience and transports them to a transcendent world, to an era most of us have no clue of. In fact, the film is a treat for aficionados of qualitative cinema who yearn for interesting stories to unfold on screen.




A tender romance blossoming in Kolkata between law student Ramesh [Jishu Sengupta] and Hemnalini [Raima Sen] is nipped suddenly when his father sends an urgent summon from his village home. There, the dutiful son is ordered to marry Susheela, daughter of a hapless widow. Ramesh refuses, confesses that his heart belongs to another. But the widow's fervent plea softens him ultimately. And he concedes, albeit with a heavy heart. The wedding takes place and Ramesh sets out with his bride on a river boat journey back to Kolkata.

Soon a fierce storm arises; the boat tosses helplessly and finally capsizes in the churning waters. Ramesh regains consciousness. Some distance away, he sees the unconscious form of a young bride. Her pulse is still beating and in response to his voice calling 'Susheela', she opens her eyes at last. There is no one else in sight, alive or dead. The two embark on a train to Kolkata.

Hem, his true love, knows nothing of all this. Ramesh has been missing from the evening of her birthday party. They have learnt of his hasty departure, but nothing else. Though she pines inwardly, she is confident that he will return soon.

Back in Ramesh's new home in Kolkata, the facts of mistaken identity gradually come to light. She is Kamala [Riya Sen], not Susheela. Her husband is a doctor named Nalinaksha [Prosenjit]. Ramesh writes an advertisement to trace his whereabouts, but he does not have the heart to break this news to the helpless, trusting young girl in his care. He puts her into a boarding school instead. But soon, Hem's would be suitor Akshay comes to know of Ramesh's secret and brings proof to Hem. Ramesh, unable to handle such a scandal, leaves Kolkata with Kamala.



A devastated Hem is brought to Kashi by her father [Dhritiman Chatterjee] to help her forget the past. There she meets Nalinaksha and they warm up to each other. Kamala, in the meanwhile, having read the advertisement in an old newspaper, realizes the enormity of the lie she has been living and walks out determined to drown herself in the river. Ramesh returns and finds her suicide note, searches everywhere to no avail. He does not know that she has been rescued and is now in Kashi under Nalinaksha's mother's care. Kamala now sees her real husband for the first time, but cannot speak up, for he is betrothed to Hem.

Finally, the advertisement she keeps knotted in her saree is discovered and the whole truth comes to light. Ramesh finally traces Nalinaksha and arrives at his house.

The first thing that caught my attention while watching KASHMAKASH was its powerful content. It was broadminded and progressive during that era. But the question is, is there a place for a theme like the one in KASHMAKASH in mainstream cinema? In Mumbai, there's a tendency to classify such themes as art house cinema. But a film like KASHMAKASH has to be seen as a sign of progressive cinema rather than conventional or offbeat.

Rituparno brings together the grand-daughters of the legendary Suchitra Sen, Raima and Riya, together for the first time. While Raima is, as always, incredible, pitching in a super performance, it is Riya who catches your attention; a complete revelation. This film will make people notice her talent. Jishu is a fine actor and he proves his prowess in a challenging role. Prosenjit enacts his part very well. Dhritiman Chatterjee excels.



Dubbing is almost perfect, although the voiceover for Riya's character could've been better. The songs in Hindi have been penned by Gulzar, while the soundtrack is in sync with the mood of the film. Cinematography is top notch.

On the whole, KASHMAKASH is an exemplary piece of work that deserves to be taken to an expansive gamut of spectators. However, it will be relished more by the evolved and progressive audience, those who wish to watch a new story unfold on screen.


Rating : 3 / 5 By India Fm