Sept 9, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Roughly translated, Uro Chithi means ‘an anonymous letter’ generally linked to some negative news about someone delivered to a target reader when the sender has an axe to grind. In Kamaleshwar Mukherjee’s directorial debut Uro Chithi is a metaphor for the mutation in relationships across the board impacted by information technology and technical gizmos like the cell phone.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B0044FBVYG” display=”inlinepost”]Uro Chithi explores how the cell phone can make, break, twist, bend and sustain both relationships and nostalgia in different ways. In this case, Mukherjee has created a script where the hero, Aniket, a high-flying executive in an IT firm begins to delete messages from his cell phone when his inbox is full. This also means that new space is created in the inbox for new friends, new relationships and new messages. This use of technology to narrate a complete story of love or marriage or friendship has been seen earlier in Aniruddha Roy Choudhury’s National Award-winning film Antaheen. The IPS police officer-hero of the film sets up a chat friendship with a young lady that goes on at any time of day or night either through their respective lap-tops, or when they are mobile, on their cell-phones. They fall in love without having set eyes on each other, but it ends in tragedy.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B004SH3H74″ display=”inlinepost”]The ‘facelessness’ of such relationships offers the director scope to explore alternative agencies of communication in this new information highway as well as scope to experiment with the language of this audiovisual medium where the blinking screen on the cell-phone can create a myriad of expectations in the audience from suspense, to fear, to anxiety, to delight, to thrill to pure fun. In Anjan Dutt’s Madly Bangalee Dutt plays a character who borrows other people’s cell-phones on the plea that as he has just returned from the US, he is unable to call up from his own cell-phone because he has not changed his SIM-Card yet. He has no cell-phone at all offering us an insight into the tragedy of his failure and into a character who has to resort to various facades and lies to hide the truth. In Riingo’s new film System that claims to probe into the Kolkata mafia, the cell phone is sometimes the only method of communication between and among the people of the underworld. Social media networks like facebook have also entered into the structure, story and space of cinema.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B005M2ACFE” display=”inlinepost”]The foundation was laid many years ago by filmmaker Aparna Sen in her path-breaking film Yugant. Deepak and Anasua are two intelligent, talented people trapped in a marriage. It is an ‘up-market’ marriage where the husband lives in Mumbai within his glamorous world of advertising and his wife, an Odissi dancer, is committed to her dance academy in Bhuvaneswar. They meet once in 18 months and when the film opens, they meet in Orissa in an obscure fishing village where they spent their honeymoon 17 years ago. They no longer write letters to each other. They only send out faxes. Thus the film moves on, from one point of stasis to another, hinting at a scary future that ‘liberates’ man from his emotions only to allow him to be sucked into a vortex of falsehoods and pretensions.
Aparna Sen rounded up what she began many years ago with her two recent films The Japanese Wife and Iti Mrinalini where one gets back the intimacy of writing letters instead of sending FAX messages or talking across cell phones and chatting on lap tops where the handwriting speaks for itself as does the smell of the paper, its ruffling sound as it unfolds slowly, making you actually ‘feel’ the person who has written the letter. Uro Chithi, Antaheen, The Japanese Wife and Iti Mrinalini are all the acquisitions of Databazaar Media Ventures that has taken on the rights of screening, telecasting and streaming these films across North America and Canada in addition to selling DVDs through its wonderful website.
– Shoma A. Chatterji