Indranil Roychowdhury’s moving, minimalistic Mayar Jonjal (Debris of Desire), with Ritwick Chakraborty, Aupee Karim, Chandrayee Ghosh, Sohel Mondol

Posted on February 9, 2021


mayar jonjal

In this drama playing at the International Film Festival of Kerala, the women aren’t afraid of hard work. The men, on the other hand, are losers.

Spoilers ahead…

Indranil Roychowdhury’s Mayar Jonjal (the international title is Debris of Desire) opens with the sight of a powerful man called Joga da (Joydeep Mukherjee). So powerful is this man that he has a manservant standing beside, holding up an umbrella, as he looks at his smartphone and laughs at a video while having lunch. So powerful is Joga da that when a few people approach him from behind, they do so as if approaching a tiger: fearfully, hesitantly, carefully. Finally, a scrawny young man steps forward. He’s just been sprung from prison, and he wants a job. Joga da slaps him. “You work for my syndicate and steal bikes on the side?” Syndicate. That makes this powerful man sound even more powerful — and we think the story that’s about to unfold will revolve around Joga da. But he’s rarely seen again, and we realise we are in a story about the scrawny man who got slapped: Satya (Sohel Mondol).

Mayar Jonjal is set in the “weaker” sections of Kolkata: it’s about people without economic power, political power (many of the people we see here are migrants), or even the power to change their destinies. It’s about Satya. It’s about his on-off lover, Beuti (Chandrayee Ghosh), a sex worker originally from Bangaldesh. It’s about Chandu (Ritwick Chakraborty), who likes to drink and keep changing jobs, which vary from working in a plastic factory to guarding an ATM. It’s about Soma (Aupee Karim), Chandu’s long-suffering wife. The actors take us into the innards of these characters with breathtakingly minimalist performances, and the film — equally minimalistic — is based on two short stories by Manik Bandopadhyay. The director and co-writer Sugata Sinha choose to have these stories (one with Chandu/Soma, the other with Satya/Beuti) play out in parallel. There are places where either the characters or the “milieus” from each story cross paths, but this is done so delicately that (though intentional) it feels as “accidental”  as two cars passing each other on a busy street.

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