If you thought that the soppy, sentimental and regressive portrayal of a woman faded away after Meena Kumari, Amrita will bring those images rushing back. For youngsters not familiar with Main Chup Rahungi, Kaajal, Sharada and Chandan Ka Palna where Meena Kumari’s screen image was identified with glycerine and tolerance, can learn what her image was like in Amrita directed by Tapan Saha. In this sense, it is quite an educative film!
AMRITA – THE MEENA KUMARI SYNDROME
Shoma A. Chatterji
- Presented by: ICore Films and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
- Produced by: Sampurna Entertainment World
- Direction and story: Tapan Saha
- Music: Kumar Shanu and Som Dasgupta
- Lyrics: Gautam-Susmit
- Cast: Smriti Irani, Victor Banerjee, Biswajit Chakraborty, Sanchita, Moinak, Shakuntalala Barua, Shreya Pandit, Supriya Debi, Kalyan Chatterjee and others
- Rating: 05/10
The film is titled after its silently suffering protagonist Amrita (Smriti Irani), a married woman with a growing son (Moinak) gone wayward for God Alone Knows what reason. Her husband (Victor Banerjee) is CEO of a big company and criticizes her at every turn. She visits the temple regularly to offer prayers on Shivratri and personally takes care of her mother-in-law (Supriya Debi) who once made life miserable for her.
We see flashbacks of Amrita’s growing up in an orphanage where everyone wears spotlessly white saris and a much younger Amrita is the owner Shanti Devi’s blue-eyed baby. A young millionaire (Jack), the younger version of Victor Banerjee, steps into the orphanage and hands her a big cheque plus a brand new sari because he has fallen head-over-heels. One wonders how she could accept the cheque without authorization from Shanti Devi. The two have a love affair, she gets pregnant, boyfriend persuades her to abort the baby, she refuses and the two get married secretly only to shock the aristocratic and conservative mother-in-law. The director has not taken any pains to choose actors who would bear at least some resemblance with the actors who play the older roles.
Why and how the husband turned into a womanizer and a cruel husband and father is left unexplained. The mother-in-law has realized that Amrita is the best thing that could have happened to the family and dotes on her. Does the story sound familiar? If it does, then wait for some more. The little blind, motherless girl who is Amrita’s neighbour and calls her Baro Maa regains her sight. A repentant Victor Banerjee commits suicide because his wife and son have left him and wills away his vision to this blind girl. Thankfully, the suicide is kept off-screen but why his family is not summoned when the police officer (Biswajit Chakraborty) has not even opened the envelope where the man has written his suicide note remains a mystery. The little blind girl, enacted by the producer Mr. Maity’s (ICore) elder daughter is the best performer in the entire film because at some moments, one feels she is really blind. Her performance is followed by the portrayal of Smriti Irani in the title role where she retains excellent control over a role that could easily have degenerated into pots of glycerine and could have raised the sound decibels in the film with loud howls. This does not happen in Amrita. Victor Banerjee lends hoarseness to his voice that sounds false. Supriya Debi is an illustration in over-acting while Kalyan Chatterjee tries to maintain a balance. Jack is terrible as the younger version of Amrita’s husband. Sanchita as the young boy’s romantic interest is very stiff and self-conscious and need a make-over urgently. Moinak has potential but it needs be drawn out in a better script. The end where Amrita tells her husband, “It is too late” and steps into the taxi to go away with her son rescues the film from the debris it had got into.
In retrospect, Amrita is a failure – as a wife and mother and as a daughter-in-law. Considering this film represents the 21st century well into a decade, a character like Amrita will evoke more anger among the audience – both male and female – than empathy. The one who tolerates violence silently without raising her voice is an active participant in the violence. So, no prizes to Amrita for her ‘silent suffering’ filled with out-dated homilies on how ‘love’ can conquer all!