Basu Chatterji’s gentle, middle-of-the-road cinema was that of the people next door

Posted on June 4, 2020


Film Director Basu Chatterjee. Express archive photo

The director’s films could be called “simple”. But they were about complicated — or at least, not-so-simple — people. And oh, some of the songs!

Sara Akash opens with the legendary KK Mahajan’s camera in constant motion. It’s either whipping past walls (as if mounted on a car) or, more slowly, receding from people on the streets of Agra (as if mounted on a rickshaw). In the midst of this visual frenzy, occasional picture-postcard images of the Taj tell us where we are. But a larger stillness lies in wait. The first scene is that of a wedding, and the camera zooms into the groom’s sullen face as he replays memories: friends asking him about this early marriage, even before he’s finished his studies. But the largest stillness is a shocker: a complete freeze-frame of the man as he cycles away from his friends, when they had this conversation. The conversation continues as we zoom in on the frame of his arrested motion, his arrested development.

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi