KIFF inaugural film Benche Thakar Gaan addresses reality of senior citizens
“This is a universal issue and is not culture-specific or socially specific to India. This is what drew us to make this film,” says Sudeshna who along with her directorial partner Abhijit, have firmly established themselves within contemporary Bengali cinema focussing mainly on relationship films.
The celluloid portrayal of ageing does not sound much of a commercial prospect or as having appeal for the mass audience because the term ‘entertainment’ relates immediately to youth, romance, and an electric energy flowing through a film and lots of sound, action, dance and music.
Benche Thakar Gaan has all of these but the biggest triumph the directors have pulled is the assemblage of some of the best veteran actors of the Bengali stage and screen brought together in the same frame in the same film, minus any ego hang-ups which at least do not come across in the film.
Some of these actors are almost forgotten by contemporary Bengali filmmakers. Acting their real age with characteristic permutations and combinations, they come across differently, spontaneously and naturally in the film. Among them are – Paran Bandopadhyay, Anamika Saha, Sohag Sen, Shankar Mukhopadhyay, Alakananda Roy, Dwijen Banerjee, Ardhendu Banerjee, Indrani Bhattacharya and others.
This film is set within an old age home and its members, each living with their distinct idiosyncrasies that have either grown with age or has been created by age. Their world, a bit out-of-sync because of the strict, autocratic director-founder of the home is turned topsy turvy with the sudden entry of Paromita Sen, a young psychiatrist who has taken up a job at this home to counsel the members who are burdened by a sense of isolation and yet cannot live together in harmony.
“The social system is changing. There are times in our lives when even children with good intentions cannot look after their aging parents and live away from them. What will these parents now do? Will they make the best of their present situation and learn to live Life this time, only for themselves?" asks the director.
"This is what we have tried to address through this film. We are not looking at a hapless group of elderly men and women who have been dumped by their children but the film is also about financially independent senior citizens making a choice to stay away from the younger generation through personal choice,” she sums up.
(Reporting by Shoma A. Chatterji)