April 1, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): Award winning Director Aparna Sen‘s latest film “The Japanese Wife” has been acquired for US distribution by Databazaar Media Ventures(DMV).
Expressing satisfaction over this acquisition, Ms. Aparna Sen said, “This is truly a historic occasion. The Indian Diaspora living in the US and Canada will now be able to watch my film as DMV will make The Japanese wife available through about 19,000 retail outlets, including Netflix, Amazon, ITunes, Blockbuster and others.”
Talking about The Japanese Wife, Sen said, ” Some of you have seen and loved my earlier films…films like ‘36 Chowringhee Lane’ or ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’. This one is different. My challenge here was to create a film that would be reminiscent of a Japanese painting with its poignant minimalism. I think I have succeeded.”
Oney Seal, Chairman of the Databazaar Group of companies stated, ” Our endeavor is to bring quality Bengali films to the US and Canada. The Japanese Wife directed by the one and only Aparna Sen fits the bill perfectly.”
About Databazaar Media Ventures
Databazaar Media Ventures acts as an exclusive gateway for Bengali films to North America, combining the latest in digital technologies with the best in traditional methods in a new, fusion distribution model that maximizes North American film revenues. We are the missing link that ensures the most effective marketing of modern Bengali films. Once selected by DMV’s Film Review Board, exclusive partner agreements ensure that titles acquired will reach over 19,000 online and retail stores across the US and Canada including major chains such as Best Buy, Target, Fry’s Electronics, Blockbuster, Netflix, Amazon and Wal-Mart, along with, theatrical releases in certain demographics. For more information please visit www.databazaarmedia.com.
The Japanese Wife – A brief synopsis
This is a haunting but improbable love story involving three shy people: Snehamoy Chatterjee, an Arithmetic teacher in a school in the interiors of riverine West Bengal; Miyage the Japanese girl who became his wife through a strange sequence of letters, and Sandhya, a widow forced by circumstances to take refuge in his home.
It had all begun when Snehamoy was a student in Serampore College, living in a hostel and preparing for his BSc examination. Too shy to make friends with his rowdy classmates, he had sent off a letter to a name found in a magazine under ‘pen friends’. The answer had arrived a month later resulting in an abiding friendship between two people who did not know each other’s tongues and were forced to communicate with the aid of dictionaries in a foreign language – English – often with hilarious results.
It would probably have continued in this vein if it hadn’t been for Snehamoy’s aunt’s God-daughter Sandhya.
Sandhya is brought to their house because Mashi, the widowed aunt who had brought Snehamoy up, is trying to find a prospective bride for her nephew. When Snehamoy writes to Miyage about her as he does about every important and unimportant event, a letter arrives that changes the course of his life.
In the letter Miyage has offered herself to him as his bride. If he agrees, they will be married. After weighing the matter over for a month, Snehamoy finally agrees to Miyage’s proposal. Tokens are exchanged between the two, making them man and wife – at least in their own eyes. She sends him a silver wedding ring with her name engraved on it. He sends her a pair of conch-shell bangles and a packet of vermillion powder – the traditional signs of marriage among Bengali women.
His aunt, outraged at first, comes in time to accept her absentee niece in-law in the same way that the neighbours’ taunts and jibes give way to an acceptance of the Arithmetic teacher’s Japanese wife. She sends him photographs, gifts…once even a huge box of traditional Japanese kites.
He sends her rain-drenched champak blossoms carefully wrapped in plastic with the hope that they will retain their fragrance until they reach her.
In time, the urge of a lonely letter writer gives way to the fullness of a lasting bond. Yet, even after fifteen years of marriage, the two have not met! It is always a question of not having enough money or Miyage’s sick mother or Snehamoy’s Mashi’s health. But their physical absence in each other’s lives never comes in the way of their sense of belonging as a couple. Snehamoy feels every inch a married man and Miyage takes her responsibility as a wife very seriously, admonishing her husband for not wearing socks in cold weather or tying an Ema at a shrine to pray for him when he is ill.
But, soon after the arrival of the kites on their fifteenth wedding anniversary, there is another arrival in Snehamoy’s home, subtly changing the course of his life a second time. Sandhya comes back as a widow with an eight year-old son in tow, and no one to turn to after her mother’s death except Snehamoy’s Mashi – her God-mother. Even though Sandhya never crosses his path, she takes up the reins of the household in her own unobtrusive way. Snehamoy’s room which had always been a mess of papers, unmade bed, discarded clothes and over-spilling ashtrays, is now tidy and fresh-smelling when he returns from school with his clothes folded neatly on the clotheshorse.
With Sandhya Snehamoy discovers a bond of domesticity as they gradually start sharing household chores. With her son Paltu he discovers the joys of fatherhood. Paltu becomes his pet and together they organize a fantastic kite fight in their village between the Japanese kites sent by Miyage and their locally made rivals.
Yet Snehamoy remains Miyage’s devoted husband at heart. When Miyage falls sick and has to leave her home to live with her brother, Snehamoy is frantic with worry. He would have flown to Japan had he the money to do so. As it is, he takes six months’ leave (without pay!) from his school and spends agonizing days consulting a range of doctors with his wife’s symptoms. His proximity with Sandhya grows as well, as he becomes aware of her tragedy – living the lonely life of a widow. The shy school teacher is caught between the pull of his marriage – a long standing intimacy devoid of domesticity — and another undefined relationship that offers a comforting domesticity without any possibility of intimacy – thus becoming an unwitting partner to two solitary women.
As days pass by and Miyage’s health worsens, it becomes clear that Snehamoy will need to visit an oncologist in Calcutta to get a proper assessment of his wife’s condition. A storm strikes as he makes his way over to the city and he returns disheartened and severely drenched. He tries to call Miyage on a local phone but a poor connection comes in the way of a proper conversation.
He falls sick with pneumonia and the flooding makes it impossible for him to receive proper treatment. The fever rages while their village remains marooned in the grip of a tormented Bay of Bengal. The local homeopath prescribes sweet white pills that neither bring down the temperature nor ease the labored breathing. Sandhya sits by his bedside pressing cold compresses on his forehead and massaging hot oil into his chest while his aunt prays fervently at the family shrine and the boy flits nervously in and out of the room. The postman had come knocking once the ferry service was able to bring in the mail, but Miyage’s letter, which the boy had pressed into the patient’s hand, remains unopened. Snehamoy’s fevered brain imagines his wife’s letter: I am right there beside you Snehamoy…can you not feel my hand on your forehead…?
Far from his wife and desperately worried over her health, Snehamoy’s life hangs by the thread as he is tended by Sandhya, just as any beloved husband would be by a loving wife.
Will the widow find her solace with Snehamoy? Or, just as in their letters, will life finally unite Snehamoy and Miyage as husband and wife?
Media Contact: Devasish Ray
Aparna Sen Biography
Aparna Sen was born into a family of film lovers. Her father, the noted film critic, film historian and filmmaker Chidananda Dasgupta, was a founder member of the Calcutta Film Society along with Satyajit Ray.
Aparna made her debut as an actress in 1961 while she was still in school, in Satyajit Ray’s Two Daughters. She has since acted in the films of several noted film directors including Mrinal Sen, James Ivory, Tapan Sinha and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. She received the Best Actress Award for her performance in Mrinal Sen’s Mahaprithibi at the Tashkent International Film Festival.
Aparna made 36 Chowringhee Lane, her first directorial venture, which she wrote herself, in 1981. It won the Grand Prix (The Golden Eagle) at the Manila International Film Festival in 1982 while the Kodak award for Cinematography went to Ashok Mehta for his photography in that film at the Hawaii International Film Festival in 1983. Aparna received the National Award for Best Direction and Ashok Mehta the National Award for Best Cinematographer in India for the same film. Aparna continues to write and direct her films in Calcutta and occasionally acts in films as well. Her latest venture Mr and Mrs Iyer, an English language film starring Rahul Bose and Aparna’s own daughter Konkona Sen Sharma, had a very successful run and won critical acclaim as well as high box office returns. It had a world premiere at the Locarno International Film Festival and was showcased at the National Panorama at International Film Festival of India in 2003, where it won critical acclaim. The film has been shown at innumerable film festivals all over the world and has won several major international awards including the Grand Prix for Best Feature Film at the Hawaii, and Las Palmas Film Festivals. It has also won the National Awards for Best Direction, Best Screenplay and Best Actress in the year 2003
Retrospective of Aparna’s films have been held in London and Munich and at Nandan in Kolkata.
Her films have been shown in many European film festivals such as London, Creteil, Rome, Carlovy Vary, Las Palmas in Spain, Locarno and Munich; in American/Canadian film festivals such as Reel World in Toronto, Montreal, Hawaii, etc; and in Asian film festivals such as Fucuoca in Japan, Manilla in the Philippines and Pusan in Korea.
Aparna was the founder editor of Sananda, a major Bengali magazine published by the ABP Group until she resigned in 2005.
She then joined SST Media as the Creative Director of Kolkata TV, a 24-hour television channel, which she served till December 2006. She joined SAREGAMA films as the chief creative officer in January 2007.
She has served on several juries at several film festivals – the International Film Festival of India in 1976 where she was in the company of Illustrious filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, Christophe Zanussi of Poland and Nagisa Oshima of Japan; the Moscow International Film Festival in 1989 with Andrez Wajda of Poland and Ziri Menzel of the Czech Republic as some of her co-jurors ; the Hawaii International Film Festival in 1991 where she served as the Chairperson of the jury and where Donald Ritchie was one of her co-jurors; the Cairo International Festival in 1999, the Pusan International Film Festival in 2003 where Donald Ritchie was both a co-juror and the chairperson of the jury and the Locarno Film Festival in 2005 where Vittorio Storraro, the illustrious cinematographer, was a co-juror as wells as the chairperson of the jury.
She was a member of the SARC Team of Observers for the Bangladesh Elections in 1990
Aparna has two daughters. Her elder daughter Kamalini Chatterjee is married and lives in the US. Her younger daughter Konkona Sensharma is an actress who has won many awards and accolades for her performances in recent times. Aparna is married to Professor Kalyan Ray who lives in USA and divides her time between the US and India.
The President of India honoured Aparna with the prestigious Padmashree Award in 1986 in recognition of her contribution to cinema.
She was awarded the Satyajit Ray Memorial Millennium Award by the Rotary Club for “Profound Contribution to Indian Cinema” and the “Satyajit Ray” Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cine Central Film Society.
Snehamoy : ( Rahul Bose ) Born in 1967, in Kolkata, Rahul started professional life as one of the youngest Creative Directors in Indian advertising. After five years in advertising, he decided to pursue his skills in acting. In 1995, for his debut film, English August, Bose won the Best Lead Actor award, the Silver Grand Prix at the Festival of Three Continents held in France along with the Special Jury Award at the Torino International Film Festival. Twelve years since, Rahul eagerly awaits his latest and most unique venture, The Japanese Wife.
Miyage : ( Chigusa Takaku) The Japanese Wife is the international debut of this Japanese actress. Besides her obvious acting talents she’s also proficient in the art of oil painting. Despite being a newcomer, Chigusa passed through Aparna Sen’s stringent standards. Chigusa Takaku -the Japanese media hails her as the next Rinko Kikuchi, who is an Oscar nominated actress.
Sandhya: ( Raima Sen )Filmography – Godmother, Daman, Dus, Parineeta,Chokher Bali.RaimaSen If legacy counts for anything, Raima is up there with the best. She is the daughter of actress Moon Moon Sen and the granddaughter of the renowned actress, Suchitra Sen. She made her debut in the film, Godmother, whichwas a critically acclaimed success. Her inherent talent shone through in Rituparno Ghosh’s film Chokher Bali. She also had a critically acclaimed hit in 2005 with Parineeta, which was followed by two more hits – the action thriller, Dus and the Bengali film, Antar Mahal. Her role in The Japanese Wife is the kind she’s never done before, but her remarkable performance in the film only does justice to her lineage.
Mashi : ( Mousumi Chatterjee ) This veteran is the daughter-in-law of the late great Hemant Kumar. She marked her acting debut with the Bengali movie Balika Badhu in 1967. Her Hindi film debut wasn’t far away, for in 1972 she carved her niche with her hit debut Anuraag. In the 70’s and early 80’s, she shared the spotlight with the iconic Amitabh Bachchan, Jitendra, Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna. Soon after, in the late 80’s and 90’s, Moushumi Chatterjee eschewed glamourous parts for good scripts. Beyond cinema, she shone on the silver screen as the lead character in the television series, Albeli. Moushumi Chatterjee The Japanese Wife is slated to be her comeback film.
Fatik Rundranil Ghosh
- Camera – Anay Goswamy
- Editor – Rabiranjan Maitra
- Art – Gautam Basu
- Story – Kunal Bose
- Screenplay – Aparna Sen
- Workshop – Sohag Sen
- Costume – Jayashree Dasgupta
- Music – Sagar Desai[Tentative]