Thikana Rajpath (2010) Bengali Film Review
Thikana Rajpath is a 2010 Bengali Film directed by Kanoj Roy starring Debashree Roy, Indrani Haldar, Rajatabha Dutta and others. The film is based on a story of surrogate mother where a married couple paid their servent to have a baby.
- Genre: Family Rating: U/A
- Banner: Sandstone Communications
- Producers: Sumay Banerjee and Alokesh Mitra
- Story, screenplay and direction: Konoj Das
- D.O.P.: Sudipto Sengupta
- Music: Alokesh Mitra
- Editor: Bapi Kanjilal
- Art Direction: Sasanka Sanyal
- Cast: Debasree Roy, Debesh Roychoudhury, Indrani Halder, Rajatava Dutta, Anu Chowdhury, Firdaus, Biswajit Chakraborty, Arun Banerjee, Paran Banerjee, Anamika Saha, Romen Roychowdhury and Pratim Chatterjee
- Rating: 7/10
- Date of release: January 8, 2010
Review: THIKANA RAJPATH-A FILM OF VALUES
by Shoma A. Chatterji
Padma works as a daily help in Monisha and Rathin’s home. Her husband Madhab plies a cycle rickshaw and the couple has three kids. Monish and Rathin have no kids even seven years after marriage. Arun is a young man dedicated to educating and feeding children from the neighbourhood slum. Mala is a very poor girl who tries to make a living out of begging with a baby hired at 20/day at the bus terminus. Champa, with two small kids but no husband is forced to sleep with Bipin, a middleman who makes money by exploiting the poor in the slums in different ways. Mala is in love with Arun but he knows of her links with the notorious Bipin Babu and does not respond.
This forms a collage of characters in a Kolkata neighbourhood. Monisha’s otherwise happy marriage is constantly scarred by the pain of childlessness. Learning of surrogacy from a newspaper ad, she persuades Rathin to father a child by another woman. She chooses Padma who agrees after discussing with her husband because the rich couple promises them a big sum and all costs borne. By a strange irony, Monisha gets pregnant and the couple leaves for a neighbouring town where Rathin’s parents live. They forget all about Padma, her pregnancy and their promise made to her. The poor Padma and her husband fall on bad days. But as destiny would have it, Monisha loses her baby. The doctor declares she will never be able to bear a child again. The diabolic Rathin rushes to Padma with a suitcase-full of money. Madhab is thrilled but Padma is not. A frustrated Madhab gets dead drunk, burns his rickshaw and beats up his wife. Rathin appears once again, with Monisha in tow and this time, they bring much more money than promised. Monisha appeals to Padma to give her the child. Padma gives her the child but staunchly refuses the money.
Few filmmakers pay close attention to ambient sound in their films. Konoj Sen is an exception. One can hear the sound of the running trains against the backdrop of Padma’s slum home. The loud honk of bus horns, rushing traffic at peak hours, constantly dot the narrative as the film moves along its journey reminding viewers of the commonplace neighbourhood . Minute details are noteworthy. One is the slight change in the attitude of Madhav when he looks at Padma at work after he has agreed to impregnate her. The other is a scene at the hospital where, in the background, we see a waiting patient holding his stomach, bent double in pain. It is a small detail but an observant one.
Biswajit Chakraborty as the paan-chewing, two-timing middleman is brilliant. Rajatava comes out of his villain image to do a more sober role grounded in reality and does it very well. Indrani Halder as Moneesha, Debasree Roy as Padma and Debesh Rouychowdhury as Madhab are very expressive and always in control. The surprise package is Anu Choudhury as Mala who, coming out of the doll-like glamour image she was given in Rajmahal some years ago is completely different, down-to-earth and real. Alternating between light flirtations, desperation, anxiety and subtlety, she justifies the director’s choice. The only dream scene does not quite belong but the lyrics that say, ‘let us put the straws and sticks of our lives together and burn them all’ are really good. Firdaus should get on that trimming machine to convince as the do-good teacher without money. He has put on too much weight. His diction does not have an accent any more. The songs, mainly used on the soundtrack, are good and are sparsely used. The closing scene showing Monisha and Rathin ride away in their white car with their baby with a little boy running after it and the camera moving back slowly is apt. Some of the dialogues are hard-hitting and scathing.
Questions. Can a woman really get pregnant with one sexual encounter specially when there is so much of class difference and when the union is a manipulated one? Will a modern and educated woman like Monisha bend down under in-law pressures to beget that male heir? Last but never the least, is it politically appropriate for a Minister of the state of WB to keep appearing in film after film as Pratim Chatterjee is doing? This is indeed a sad reflection on why the state is in the state we find it in.
[ReviewAZON asin=”0520252047″ display=”inlinepost”] Thikana Rajpath is perhaps the first Bengali film that tackles surrogate motherhood. A sad pointer is that Indrani as Monisha, an educated woman, pronounces the word ‘surrogate’ as ‘sarrowgate’ not once, but several times. The film is important because it crusades for the sustenance of values like honesty where greed has no place and short cuts to make money are not the best way, whatever the pressures or circumstance. It also points out how, within the existing system, the real villain (Bipin) escapes the clutches of the law while Anu, bent double under the pressure of running an impoverished family, lands in jail for stealing Champa’s baby. The poor are not necessarily avaricious, is the bottom line.
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