PATHER SHESH KOTHAYE (2012)
- Producer / Story & Script/
- Director: Tanima Sen
- Art Director: Pal
- Cameraman: Siddhartho Dey
- Editor :Susmit Mondal
- Make-Up: Noor
- Music: Tapan
Cast : Biswajit Basu (Krishnakishor Mukherjee), Lolita Basu (Tanima Sen), Tota Basu (Simli Paul), Abhimanyu Basu (Gourab Chatterjee), Dr. Chatterjee (Soumitra Chatterjee), Arjun (Sujoy Ghosh), Mrinal (Mrinal Mukherjee), Santona (Santona Basu), Nitai (Abhijit Mukherjee), Ani (Saheb Chatterjee), Chandra (Chandreyee Ghosh), Mataji (Supriya Debi).
The film marks the directorial debut of actress and noted comedienne Tanima Sen. Pather Shesh Kothaye, picked from the first line of a famous Tagore song, opens with grown-up ‘children in different phases of mental disabilities. The camera shifts focus to their parents who lament the dearth of good institutional care for mentally challenged children after their parents who remain their primary caretakers and custodians, pass away. India does not provide any solid infrastructure for adults who are mentally challenged, either genetically, or acquired later in life. We then access the main story set against a contented family backdrop of father Biswajit (Krishnakishore Mukherjee), mother Lolita (Tanima Sen), daughter Tota (Simli Paul) and servant Nitai (Abhijit Mukherjee).
The ‘dent’ in this apparently happy family framework is Abhimanyu (Gaurav Chatterjee) who has developed a regressive personality disorder following a freak accident as a boy on the day of Saraswati Pooja. He is under the constant medical supervision of Dr. Chatterjee (Soumitra Chatterjee) and also goes to a rehabilitation centre run by a NGO but bogged down by official blocks represented through a corrupt official who holds back the files for several ulterior motives.
The story however, instead of remaining focussed on this subject – the tragedy of parenting a mentally challenged adult son who is present alongside a normal, intelligent daughter who is about to get married to a young man – diversifies into other issues that are somehow linked to the main subject but could have been kept out of the story entirely. There is Abhi’s boyhood friend Anindya (Saheb Chatterjee) who is a collector of rare coins he plans to sell off in the international market to do something concrete about tragic cases like that of Abhi. He nourishes a deep sense of guilt for the accident that happened long ago. His girlfriend Chandra (Chandreyee) who lives in Canada is trying to gather funding for such people. Dr. Chatterjee is involved in both the children because he is a bachelor himself but his knowledge about physiotherapy and other kinds of occupational therapy seem to be absent in this case.
Tota’s boyfriend Arjun (Sujoy)’s sister has an elderly sister-in-law who is insane. Why she has not been placed in institutional care is a mystery. There is another Godmother-kind of holy lady (Supriya Devi) who is dressed like a 37-year-old who tries to offer solace to Lolita whenever she comes in search of it. Who this lady is, what is her purpose in the story, what business she has in the film remains unknown till the end. In fact, Tanima has included so many of her film and television fraternity friends that it seems to have taken her away from her main agenda – to showcase the tragedy of parenting a mentally challenged child.
The film ends very dramatically with Abhi’s sudden death, opening up a spidery cobweb of issues that underscore the pathos of tragic parenthood. How did Abhi die? Of a heart attack, as Dr. Chatterjee insists? Or, was he killed by his own mother as she insists because she could not bear the thought of his dying a slow and certain death after her passing away? The highest point of the film is its beautiful music of a choice of some of the best and most popular Tagore songs belted out by some of the best singers in the industry. Highest marks go to actor Mrinal Mukherjee who at last gets a chance to showcase his singing talent through the song prangoney more shirish shakhaaye phagun maashe when other singers joined in. It is a wonderful prelude to the dramatic scene that follows.
The best acting comes from Gaurav Chatterjee who portrays the regressive Abhishek with incredible reality. Tanima is as usual, at her histrionic best but she allows herself more focus than needed both in terms of cinematographic space and in terms of narrative significance. Krishnakishore as her husband, Chandreyee as the girl from Canada and Simli as Tota is convincing. \Saheb needs to control his tendency to go overboard and Soumitra Chatterjee need to inject his performance with more vibrancy. Kudos go to Tanima Sen for choosing such a revolutionary subject for a first film. But she could have made her script crisper but cutting out some of the superfluous characters who add nothing to the total film.