Moner Manush-Bengali Movie Review (by Director Partha Sen)

Paoli Dam in Moner Manush
Paoli Dam in Moner Manush

Dec 26, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): Moner Manush is a lyrical ballad painted on a canvas and Gautom Ghose has proved himself, yet another time, as a brilliant painter. Every scene, be it the still and serene flow of the river or the endless paddy fields or Lalon’s akhara (settlement) in the middle of a jungle, it all comes alive with Ghose’s cinematography.

The film deals with the life of Lalon fakir (1700s-late 1800s approx). He was a maverick who didn’t believe in division of communities and religion. Hence, he lived a spiritual life gathering disciples and composing songs. He is regarded very highly amongst the bauls and his songs which talk of life, as is perceived, and are sung straight from the heart; are regarded as the very best in the baul community till date. Hence, the film required a certain rustic and raw feeling. It could have been achieved in a lot of ways. But Ghose has successfully managed to culminate the rustic-ness with the scenic beauty. The result: heavenly bliss!

The script and the music have been very interestingly interwoven together. More than 30 songs by Lalon have been used and at the right places, at the right times. The lyrics mesh into the screenplay just perfectly, thus, ignoring the need for unnecessary dialogues.

The narration style of the film shifts between the present, where Lalon tells his story to Jyotirindranath Tagore, and the beginning of Lalon’s life, as a carefree young man, only interested in music. The constant shift between the past and the present times fit together perfectly through the help of the songs. The audience is personified in Tagore’s character. By the end of the film, the audience, just like Tagore is left mesmerized and at awe of the highly recognised old man, who said everything very simply through his songs.

While watching the film, not for once do you think that Prasenjit Chatterjee (aka Bumba,as he is fondly known in the industry), is playing the role of the minstrel. He has got into the “skin of the character” in the truest sense, so much so, that you believe him to be the real “Lalon”. Bumba, with intense hard work, has surpassed all his previous performances with this one. And it will be a while till we see him match up to this level. There is no pictorial evidence of Lalon. But after this film, there is no doubt that Bumba’s depiction of the character will be looked upon for any point of reference. “Lalon fakir” is a performance that will be remembered in the world of cinema for years to come.

The film tells the tale of Lalon’s eternal quest to find his “moner manush” (soul man). He wanders through the world looking for his soul man and adding music to his thoughts. All in all, Moner Manush transcends you to a different world altogether giving you a spiritual high and leaving you in your quest of your “moner manush”.

-Partha Sen

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