I recently read a critical review of this particular film ‘Antareen’ by Mrinal Sen by a westerner. I felt that he has failed to comprehend the film in its totality, and have likened it to a freshman work – quite a strong criticism I would say. For a 70 minute film, this is an extremely layered work from Mrinal. The dialogues are minimal, and the visuals convey with such power the decadence in all spheres – the ruins of the feudal mansion symbolizing decay in aristocracy, or the loneliness of a married Dimple Kapadia where the husband is not visible even in a single frame, even the writer may be struggling at his craft …

As in his ‘Akaler Sandhane’ (In search of famine, 1980) where Mrinal showed that the situation with regard to famine has hardly changed over decades in India, in ‘Antareen’ the continuity of female oppression since ancient times into modern India is highlighted, where the woman bears all silently for the sake of the family. This is quite an Indian perspective, which a Westerner may not be able to appreciate. Ritwik Ghatak’s ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ brilliantly showed how women are exploited in Indian society. Dimple and Anjan were discussing Tagore’s “Hungry Stones” in the film, and their characters somewhat parallels those in the Tagore novel, a doomed romantic tale of a Chieftain and an attractive woman who was bought as a slave for the pleasures of a King, and when the lovers try to elope, they meet a tragic fate.


(Anjan Dutt reading Tagore’s RABNINDRA RACHANABALI)

The open ended ending where the two protagonist meet in the train also shows Sen is non judgmental about the writer Anjan helping the ‘confined’ Dimple, as like the protagonist of the “Hungry Stones,” the attempt to flee from the chains of bondage may prove to be tragic …


(Dimple reading DHRISTI O SHRISTI by Nandabal Bose Pix Credit: Sanjay Desai @ Twitter, Nov 20, 2017)

The relationship between the two protagonist is interesting. Mrinal keeps the romantic angle at bay, if ever there was one. Else why should the protagonist be a man and a woman? Since the relationship couldn’t be taken to its logical ending, the director eschews sentimentality and hints of a romantic bonding. The open ended ending of ‘Ek Din Pratidin’ and ‘Ek Din Achanak’ can be observed in this work as well.

This is my interpretation. Let me know what you think…

Rating: 4.2 out of 5


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