1978- Kasturi (1980?)

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The web shows it to be a 1980 movies but the censor certificate as 1978. So I assume it was waiting for two years to find a distributor? May be.

Another superb but flop movie this has been Nutan’s forte in the seventies and that was one of the greatest tragedies of the Bollywood. When I look at this stage of Nutan’s carer, she had been in one after another of her best roles. Saudagar, Anuraag, Grahan, Kasturi, Saanjh Ki Bela, Anjaam, Sajan Ki Saheli, Main Tulsi…, Sajan Bina Suhagan,… all have excellent and unforgettable performance by her. And almost all, at least the first portion of the list are the unappreciated, even unknown to the populace, movies. And most of these movies she had been still extremely beautiful, without the effect of age on her face and, in my opinion, better looking than the heroines half her age. Had even few of the movies been successful at those times, she would have been the undisputed reigning queen.

Why did all these movies flop? I am not looking at the aspect of her selection of wrong movies. That was undoubtedly one of the major factors. But what I am looking at is, despite everything these were by and large good movies and in my view quite a few were exceptional movies, still they miserably failed in collection.

I assume that the prime reason was with the publicity of the movies. Most of these were not properly marketed, or should I say negatively marketed? The population has a herd mentality. Declare a movie through media as watchable and the shows will be full. Declare them as art movie and then it is as good as giving fly squatters to the canteen people of the movie halls where these are screened. The real educated critics of the movies didn’t exist then, let us forget of their existence now. The most of the movie page critics were, and are, glorified first or at the most second benchers (of movie hall, not classroom).

Did I make an offensive statement? Let me quote from today’s review of a movie opening, likely to be a big hit, on one of the premier national news papers. Of almost quarter page review, I will give certain selected statements “This is not a kind of movie you watch for the plot, … proves here that the story doesn’t matter” …”It is nothing new as an idea” …however all these are interspersed as eulogy and not as criticism. The closing statement is the living proof “The filmmaker, not for a second, is taking the audience as granted”. The critic wants to keep his conscience clean with these statements, as well as earn his livelihood (!) by softening these up.

We all know people usually start at the start and then jump to the concluding. They rarely bother to read long articles (like that I write here) word by word. They do it for their livelihood, and I? May be I am too verbose (when with keyboard) and anyway blogs are really not for other’s pleasure, but for the self reflections, as I take it. It really un-clutters one’s mind by putting things on paper (Screen). And while putting these down some times one rethinks on his/her own thought process (editing the drafts).

Of course no one is naïve enough to assume that these reviews are not sponsored. For that matter should I believe that the big stars come to the small screen, in say the Kapil Show, Kaun Banega Karorepati etc just before their big release, invited by the TV production house? It is the opposite, may be they would even part finance that episode, well if not they the publicity managers of the movie house will.

That’s how the hits are made. Not on the sets, since there everything is same, varying only in the expenditure on the sets or costumes or star names.

This might have been one of the reasons of the demise of Saraswati in hands of her own sister, Lakshmi, instead of coexistence as was in the golden era of bollywood. It really may not be limited to the Bollywood or Indian film industries, since I see similar happenings in Hollywood too.

On the movie

Is anything pure unadulterated? For the believers of course there is only one, pure white, The One. Except that there is nothing else. His opposite, pure black isn’t pure. Pan too has streaks of white or at least grey in him. Of course in Hinduism he doesn’t exist, we have only the people, who aim at the Light (Him) or the people that have lost the way, due to their own love for physical comforts (Maya), not due to the misdirection by any force. Even under the influence of Maya, one could still maintain the path, the Dharma, if it doesn’t allow it to dictate the actions.

Is there any pure atheist? Is there any pure ‘Scientific’ and hence sans all superstitions? I believe no. It is because the information available in the society, the group in which we grow up and live, are all gathered by our brain and stored. Our brain may be trained to suppress these information, but they exist in subconscious and some time govern our ways.

This is the story of one of such persons, Pramila. How she, who is shown to be atheist and non superstitions, really behaves when her conscious and subconscious are in conflict. It is not a referendum of superstitions that we often come across. Some of the movies (especially the Ghost, Horror etc) tried to prove that the superstitions as we call are the fact of life. The opposite camps try to prove that these are complete lies. The actual is somewhere in between.

The superstitions have some base, some truth, behind it. With the excessive flab that had gathered around it, with each generation, each century and millennia, the core is completely hidden, but not lost, the flab is what we look at and treat as either the truth or lie. Of course in the modern era, due to change in circumstances the core itself may no more be significant, but since we don’t know what was the basic reason, we blindly follow that, or taking this as the base reject all others.

This type of objective treatment of the subject is rarity and then by corollary the flop is guaranteed. We got to cinema halls to believe in ghosts or disbelieve it. We don’t go there to get out in the same state of mind, still not sure of whether it does or doesn’t exist. This movie doesn’t say for a moment the superstition is wrong or bad or what we think superstition is actually His law, which we are trying to bypass. It takes it as a fact that exist, whether with or without base, and how does it affect all that are exposed to it.

Protagonists

Prashant (Dr Shreeram Lagoo) is the Head of the department of Biology in the University college, in Bombay.

Pramila (Nutan) is a lecturer in Botany, ex student, and now wife of Prashant. Very matter of fact and there is no place of romance or any soft corners in her heart. She married, since that was a logical thing to do, to a logically selected person, not for any other end. It was not for career growth but for career itself. If she marries a colleague (here it is boss) then, both being in same field, she would able to follow her passion unchecked. It is the logic, with which she preempts Parikshit when he was about to pop the question.

Atish (Parikshit Sahni) is a very close friend of and a forest officer in the Basuk’s kingdom.

Samru (Mithun Chakraborty) is the witch doctor, the only one who talks and takes command from Basuk. He has a small but important role in the movie.

Mangla (Sulabha Deshpande) is the village nurse cum midwife (all in one), not the trained one, the one we see in villages (we call Dhai in North India). She is of course even as the profession dictates extremely motherly and also not a blind, she understands the things. However she, being from the village, has a superstitious mindset. Though to protect her brood, she is going to fight with the superstitions (for Nutan she abuses the great God-man of the area, though the God-man was technically right, but Mangala thought he wasn’t). She gives free-hand to Pramila and Atish to move around but when it affects her primary responsibility, the patient, she doesn’t take it kindly.  

BASUK – is the revered deity of the tribal area. It is in the form of a hillock, and a bird, Kasturi, is favourite (consort?) of Basuk. Unlike Basuk, which is symbolic, Kasturi is a real living bird, and as is hinted in the movie a very rare and hence I assume to be IUCN Red-listed (CR) species.

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Writer Producer and Director of the movie is Bimal Dutta,

The movie has certain plots and subplots closely interwoven together. Each of the subplot brings out a certain aspect of how the living in forest, with the tribal people permeates their beliefs and the faiths even in the most die-hard nonbelievers. It doesn’t preach of anything whether the superstitions are right or they are, as we say superstitions. Sometimes we feel that we should believe them but we have some occasions, when the superstition leads to tragedy.

The main plot is of course woven around the three main protagonists, Shriram lagoo (Prashant), Nutan (Pramila) and Atish (Parikshit Sahni).

In addition we have the village doctor, fully qualified as his wife said. Due to the degree her father gave a huge dowry, and as a result she is spending her life in the jungle. The doctor now puts a high faith in traditional medicines and is not only using them in his treatments but also doing some sort of research in efficacy, which of course his wife scorns upon. They have a daughter, may be in late teens, a bit polished and not fully tribalised, but she too has some local beliefs ingrained in her.

The wife despite scorning on the tribal affairs had with time absorbed some of them in her character. She has a deep belief in the tribal deities, or even some medicines. As she said, to Nutan, that her daughter had some fits, but when a specific holy flower had been put on her hairs, she stopped having it. This holy flower was supposed to bring peace and strength in the minds of women.

We have Mahadeo, the simple villager. His wish was to see Bombay and for that Dr Lagoo was the sponsor. But it was deferred, and the plan was modified, not only he but his child bride too was to go there with Atish on next visit. But first Lagoo had that tragedy, and then we come to know that Mahadeo had become crazy. His wife had died of a snake bite, while they were, well sleeping together. Now his only goal in life is to kill that snake. In fact it is not necessarily the same one. He is in search of a snake mating with his partner. Then he will kill one of them, so that the survivor understands what agony he is going through. These are all episodes interspersed between the main story trying to bring out the tribal psychology and their simple way of thinking as well as the revenge, equally innocent, should we call childish? But it some times leads to great tragedies, as it is depicted here too (with this same Mahadeo).

The Movie

The mood of the movie created while the titles roll in with a tribal dance.

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The movie proper starts with Pramila (Nutan) tuning up a Sitar in a house located in nowhere (i.e. in the midst of forest), while rains and thunderstorm rage outside. Atish (Parikshit Sahni) is in attendance, though not really attending to her efforts, busy in his own hobby, wood carving. Typical married couple one would say, each are giving the other physical, but not mental company, with physical household talks (“Tomorrow get a plumber, the faucet of kitchen is leaking”)

A friend Karan (Nitin Sethi as per credit) drops by. He is a hunter deputed there to kill a tigress (Sundari) who had turned man-eater.

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By their behavior, we are as mistaken as the friend. They are not married, as Atish tells at the banter of the friend. She is just a friend, a teacher in a city college and drops there on every vacation. However there is no doubt that the friend isn’t just a friend. Not only his blushing but certain statement gives away, he has stopped liquor, but not because “Pramila insisted”.

The query “When are you marrying?” is replied with “I don’t know. It is already three years like this. She has nowhere else to go. Like a migratory bird, she comes here every season (holidays) and at the end of it, flies back home.

Why don’t they marry is responded with “I want to, but the consent has to come from her, I in fact can’t live without her” and then a bombshell “Pramila is the wife of my best friend” with a small balm for us viewers “However he is no more”, but he doesn’t seem to be at all enthusiastic about that opening in the cloud. She is really no more than a friend, gender-less, and in that same mental frame doesn’t bother of what people will say when she comes over and stays alone with him.

Atish had been in the same place for a dozen year now, we are told, and every time his transfer is contemplated, he manages to get that stopped “I have fallen in love with the place

On the dinner table, the hunter, when Pramila asks of Sundari, why is he so much obsessed about killing her, tells her “The way she won’t spare anyone, including me, whom she comes across, I won’t either if I come across her, that’s jungle rule

Then he tells her Sundari’s history and touches a raw nerve “A few years back she was the empress of the jungle, a magnificent creature ruling with her consort. Then the poachers poisoned her partner. She stopped eating in grief. But next year she was with a new mate. Death of a partner isn’t the end of everything madam. Why don’t you two now marry and settle down?

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Still symbolic and suggestive talks go on with the respective responses bring up the mental stage of the protagonists. At night Nutan is on Sitar, when hearing the sound of music, Karan walks in, uninvited. Clearly he wants to help his friend and tries to play, unsuccessfully, the matchmaker’s role.

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“Sometimes the whole life is spent in getting the correct tune. The jungle is different, in the music of nature you don’t need an external instrument to help. But for humans, there are rules to be followed.”

Karan goes out, the rain has stopped and there may be fresh pug marks of Sundari to help him. But he leaves the other two in an agitated state.As the rain starts again, Parikshit goes out on varendah and muses into nothing. Nutan comes out and again allegorical discussion takes place, signifying that not only she is yet to make up the mind but also it is likely that she might never marry him, or for that matter anyone.

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Now we go to the back ground, or like in art movies, half of that.

The story the actual starts while Pramila is in lab. Receiving a telegram from their close friend Atish (Parikhsit Sahni, a Forest Officer), that a rare bird Kasturi had been spotted in his forest, Prashant (Dr Lagoo, professor and HOD) comes in. We can make out that she is his wife. She was not in a position to go since the ‘B.Sc Practicals are not yet over. She isn’t probably a student, we can surmise, though she looks young enough in that dress and make up to be one, but within a couple of years she becomes a lecturer (or professor? She is called once by that epithet too). The print isn’t sharp but she looks very young in this get up to be even that.

Since she is unable to go, Lagoo goes alone, despite his frail health. He has high blood pressure and was supposed to visit doctor, but “Doctor’s appointment can wait but not Kasturi’s and anyway I am taking all the medicines with me

I won’t blame on the lack of concern of the wife. It would come out later that their marriage was of two scientists, not two persons, the M & Mme Curie model, the science comes first. Not too surprisingly if we see here at their age difference. The wife is a kid and the husband much older.

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It is a long journey, a day in train and then half day on road, even in taxi, we are told. But with Kasturi in sight he can’t wait and he along with Atish goes to the tree, where Atish said it had made nest.

Prashant climbs up the tree to have a look, and it has two eggs. But not for long, suddenly Prashant loses just a bit of balance, the tree shakes and in that the nest overturns and the eggs fall down.

There is one man watching that, he was quite calm in the beginning but at this becomes extremely worried. He, Samaru (Mithun) rushes in and tells that this is highly ominous and Basuk will punish him even though it was unintentional “Nothing moves here without Basuk’s wish. The accident was planned by Him. He is angry on him (Prashant) for some reason and wanted to punish him. So he made him to kill the innocent so that He could. Now pray to Him and ask for forgiveness, else he would do what he intended

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Atish has become at least partly local, and is uneasy. However our city-man Prashant’s only regret is the loss of eggs. He is not afraid of Basuk, which is a superstition and non scientific.

Atish’s behavior is understandable, since we can do a simple arithmetic and see that he had been there for at least 6 to 7 years already then. That’s long enough for feeling the effects of some local customs, especially if a person is gullible.

Next morning Prashant travels back, having lost the Kasturi along with a couple of future ones. Mahadeo was to go with him this time, but is deferred for a future occasion, “come along with your wife when your sahib visits

It looks he too had some misgivings of leaving his child bride back home and enjoying alone, so he agrees almost enthusiastically and runs off to the bride, who was standing sad and alone , as he was happily preparing to travel without her.

Just before they start, one of the priests (not Mithun) comes with some amulet. With lot of prayer, Basuk had given them this. Now Prashant should keep it with him always for next fifteen days. If everything is OK in this time, that means Basuk had forgiven him. Atish gets more and more uncomfortable, but obviously Prashant doesn’t have all these beliefs. He leaves that on the table and they start in the jeep. On the way Prashant has a stroke.

Atish takes the amulet (probably he went back to take it) and takes the patient to his home, in Bombay. Pramila observes the amulet and being of equally scientific temper as her husband, takes it out and drops it. It falls on a shoe, in front of stunned Atish.

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Prashant seems to be a converted person, since as the amulet is dropped, though paralised, he tries to see where it went through the corner of his eyes. While Pramila goes to see the doctor off, Atish picks it up and puts below Prashant’s pillow. He also tells him something Samaru (Mithun) had told.Basuk had punished him but kept him alive since he knew that it was unintentional. He (Basuk) had also told that if in the next spring Kasturi arrives again and lays egg, Basuk will make him as before.

Spring arrives but the tree is bare, no nests. But then one fine morning Atish hears Kasturi’s call (we too do) and even sees it (but doesn’t show us). He immediately writes the incidence to Prashant. He advises him, not to tell this to Pramila, he is aware that she doesn’t believe it and won’t let him go. Make some excuse and come. “Till you come, I will be every day at the station waiting for you

It is two year already, and there is no significant improvement on Prashant. This has created a financial strain and the house owner, due to unpaid rent, had served eviction notice. It all fits the puzzle. Atish had invited them there, so she could hide all this problems from Prashant and vacate the house and move to the forest, at least for some time. Professor wants to go there she is told.

Of course our Prashant is smart, he knows how to manage his wife. The offer comes from her “He is inviting us for so long, and we have been stuck up here for two years, it may be good for you, if there is change etc.” is met with a just lukewarm response from Prashant. It is always safe to pretend it as her decision (!)

When they reach the village we see Mahadeo (the villager who was to come to Bombay with his wife), but his behavior is strange.

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One more superstition, we are told when Pramila advises Atish to marry. Atish informs that “Whoever Basuk loves, if he marries would die in the hands of his wife” and this one we would be reminded in the end when Pramila will say “The woman, me, fulfilled the proverb, by killing you alive” – Jeete Je Maar diya.

The doctor’s wife arrives meanwhile to help and give company, and Atish goes to meet Samaru for advice. The doctor’s wife tells her something that she didn’t know, the Basuk’s curse. Pramila however doesn’t believe all this and pooh poohs. Scientifically she is right “He was sick, he was careless, and then this physical and mental stress”. Though Atish, the converted is as firm in his believe “The rare bird whose nest has been destroyed is back why?”.Pramila doesn’t argue with the thoroughly inebriated Atish. He has been shown to be one who would drown himself in alcohol every evening. 

The clash of science and superstition is again and again brought in. When the daughter collects those blessed flowers in her anchal and asks mother “Why don’t we give it to aunt” i.e. Pramila, first they are skeptical. Then they decide to give her since they are beautiful and she would put it in her hairs for the beauty of it. Though she is told of its divine properties, she doesn’t believe in it. She is a botanist and tells us its scientific name as a proof that it’s not as divine as we are made to think. Still as the mother guessed, she puts in her hairs for the predictable reason, beauty.

Meanwhile the Mangla (local tribal nurse-midwife..Sulabha Deshpande) arrives, to take care of the patient. Pramila protests, “I want to take care of him”, but is manipulated, “OK, you take care of him and I will take care of you

Pramila is meanwhile made aware of the Mahadeo’s tragedy too and she keeps on watching his efforts, extremely disconcerting to any one, at snake catching every now and then.

The final eviction order is meanwhile served to her there and it shocks Atish, why wasn’t he informed of their dire straits. It looks that he was bearing the medical expenses already, assuming other things are taken care of.

He takes her to his room and shows a letter, that Prashant has written to him, mentioning Pramila. “She is has too much reserve and self-pride, and bear everything without letting anyone know, unless she considers you as a real friend”. And that is a true description of the actual, off screen, lady too. However there is something else in that letter that he forbids her to see.

Meanwhile Samaru has been finally traced. He will do a special prayer for which he needs a cloth worn by Prashant and that has to be given to the priest who had come, by Pramila. She refuses and making fun pulls him to show her the Basuk, who is giving all these orders.

Despite making fun, as they sit down, the music of the forest starts affecting her very stealthily. They are entangled in the spider-web which proverbially makes a mate of a couple forever. Though she makes fun of it, when she slips and Atish holds her in his arms to support, it is clear that she isn’t completely unaffected by him.

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Atish leaves her alone there, and goes off, presumably to meet Samaru, but may be to avoid his own feelings and comes back home, as always drunk, and goes to his room without meeting anybody and disappears in the morning before anyone wakes up.

There is an anti-superstition incident. Someone is tremendously ill and doctor wants to give him an injection to save his life, which as per Samaru, who is treating him, should not be given. In that conflict the boy dies untreated. It isn’t whether the science would have saved it or not. It brings out the superstition, or the witch-doctor wasn’t successful in this case.

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Was it for good or bad? We come to know that after the failure the doctor had gone to the allopathy, and Mithun has lost the confidence and stopped his activities.

The witch doctors don’t only work on so called magic but also use a lot of traditional medicines (to hide that they do all the show business). In fact the doctor has said that to get the knowledge of these he had joined the gang. When Mithun stopped everything, later he mentioned that there is widespread death around. Of course he attributed that to the anger of Basuk. Could that had been at least controlled with the traditional medicines? We don’t know, but we do know that the deaths were on, even when the doctor has become conventional doctor.

At night again when the drunk Atish comes back, Pramila goes to him and finally manages to get the letter that he was hiding, “Not fit for you”, with logical reasoning “What my husband wrote to you about me, is fit for me, I want to know”.

It was an older letter, of before her marriage. She had then just joined, and now we know she was a Phd. “A girl has joined to do her thesis under me. Come immediately, I want to play matchmaker for once

However in that matchmaking the things don’t go as planned. Though he doesn’t propose in first meeting, the girl obviously make the obvious guess and says it plainly, which one rarely does “No one does anything without purpose, I know your purpose”.

Before she could say no, he changes the proposal and makes it the proposal of the professor. The girl didn’t want to marry for certain reasons; by marrying she would lose her prime purpose, the academics and research. By marrying the professor, she can have the cake and eat it too.

How did you manage that?” she was interested, “Convincing the professor to marry me?” Earlier she might have thought it was a simple act, but not with this new information, where the pawns have exchanged place. 

He was fully drunk, he told that and much more. It obviously shocked and disconcerted her, and she fell back on bed weeping to the shock of Sulabha and Prashant, but looked that they guessed things and didn’t talk.

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Next morning she is coerced to go to a baba, who is a soothsayer. He had an very interesting advise to give “You have a snake inside you that grows in your darkness. Keep yourself clean (Pavitra), away from bodily pleasures

Though her companion Mangala (Sulabha) ridicules the Baba “you are out of your mind, she is educated she knows all that, and has come for her husband’s well being not for these

Baba repeats his advice, “Savitri too brought Satyavan back by remaining pious

The movie moves between superstition, god-men, and the exact opposite. If I don’t take this as a Godman’s saying, this may be what the protagonist’s conscience call? To stay away from Atish, and be loyal to her husband, who needs her the most now?

Despite Sulabha’s ridicule, Pramila seems to be affected by what he said, her acts indicate that, and that means what the Baba told, was the turmoil in her mind then. Quite likely since Atish, though drunk, has said something that was locked inside his heart. Pramila, though at that time married an old man, just for the sake of science, but may be now her heart was yearning for a companionship? Which can only a similar age person could give, and now she was in dilemma of heart vs brain?

On the way, to aid in our superstition prone mind a few unlucky things happen. Pramila sees a woman sitting beside a tree. She is told that she had cheated on her husband and doing this penance. She could be free from it if in the full moon night her husband, in presence of all is willing to take her back; else, she has to continue her penance. Even looking at her is inauspicious. But despite the warning she keeps on looking at her, and when you walk without watching your step, what happens happened. The “Prasad” fell down on ground.

I assume that the Godman (or her conscience) meant Atish and not Prashant. The “Bodily” pleasure she definitely can’t get from her husband, in this condition, and also that could not be  a snake, hidden in the dark part of heart. And the next scene, where she keeps on looking at that ‘fallen woman’ must be the reflection on herself? 

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Both start avoiding each other. When doctor’s daughter comes in search of Atish, Pramila is rude “Am I his guardian?”. At night when she hears his jeep, she goes and lies down beside her husband, not in her separate bed.

However the local effect on her has started. Next day, early morning, the botany professor goes to the tree and starts gathering flowers of peace. When she comes back with flowers she is composed and happy and even when she meets Atish and shows the flowers.

But he isn’t “You are bothered only of yourself, your happiness, your peace, do you bother of what is happening to others?

Here the others isn’t pointed at him but to Prashant. The Doctor meanwhile is a fully allopathic MBBS doctor, and thrown all the amulets and other such things off. Now he would treat as per book. Pramila too seems to have been woken up by him (she takes the flower out of her hairs).

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The doctor calls Pramila outside for a tete-a-tete. He tells her that he had started all these as a show-off to get the secrets of the tribal medicines and in that when he became one of them he didn’t realize, till the shock of the boy’s death woke himself up.

He, we could understand ,had observed her conversion, and warns Pramila against this. He also tells that the two are over dependent on the nesting of Kasturi, in the spring. If it doesn’t happen then it might be catastrophic. Especially, as he tells, the professor has lost his desire to live. “It’s only who you can bring the wish to live.”

She tries the base instinct, seduction. Of course he is physically incapable for that, but at least she could fulfill some of his wishes. The flashback shows how dry their domestic life had been. On the wedding night Atish had decorated the house as they came back from registrar. When he asked Prashant to select a flower and put it into his bride’s hairs, she had started botany lecture on purpose of flowers. A beautiful red sari was gifted by Atish for their marriage, which she never wore, despite Prashant’s request. These memories that she had denied her husband, in a loveless life now haunted her.

However her efforts are in vain. It is clear that he had become too detached from everything now. Despite her all entreaties, or tears, there is no response, neither positive nor negative. It was a passive face that he presented to semi hysteric woman.

She finally accepts her defeat and goes out I will ask Basuk and Kasturi, why? What I have done to them

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Atish meanwhile goes to Samaru, who now doubts his own capability, and that too due to the epidemic that was on “Basuk is very angry” and so treating that is out of his power. He refuses to go and Atish storms out in his jeep home to bring his rifle “let me see how you won’t come.

On the way he overtakes Pramila, on way to Kasturi’s home, which was far off, and he takes her there in jeep, planning to pick-up Samaru on way back.

But when she goes there she doesn’t ask question but ask for forgiveness, for herself and Atish. “We can’t hide form ourselves. For our fault we are being punished”.

Atish coveted her from beginning he had said so. Did she too have a soft corner, deep inside which she kept under lock and key? The snake that the Baba said?

Meanwhile something positive happened. What Mahadev wanted to do, Atish did. Mahadev is extremely happy and grateful but Mangala who came out isn’t. There is the Nagin concept, the one not killed would now definitely take revenge from him.And after watching so many movies obviously city bred Pramila too knew. Earlier she might not have believed this, but now slowly Jungle was creeping on her.

Doctor calls Atish inside to tell him that Prashant had been in a very bad condition when Pramila went out. Meanwhile hearing the Snake revenge, concept Pramila comes in, and her extreme and hysteric worry, clearly brings out her care for him. She was in addition running fever so probably was drugged to sleep.

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In the morning when she gets up, Atish is gone out. She is hysteric again, even in presence of her husband. Mangala takes her out and tells of last night. Mahadev, holding the snake in his hand, committed suicide by slitting his own throat and Atish has gone to the police station.

Atish is meanwhile with Samaru, trying to manage him to get a pardon from Basuk. The last resort is being tried, the soul (or rather the illness) exchange between Atish and Prashant, to which reluctantly Samaru agrees. However the exchange is thwarted by Sulabha, who knows what is happening and rushes in.

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There I couldn’t get the how the two main protagonists Pramila and Prashant reacted to the information. Prashant of course was paralysed but Pramila?

She was just stunned, I couldn’t see any positive or negative reaction. May be it would be so, husband vs lover, whom to choose. In fact finally it is Prashant who drops the hand and may be Pramila didn’t mind the exchange, since we see her tenderly cleaning a piece of something that had fallen on Prashant’s cheek?

Did the director want to say that she wanted both, and when given that she could have only one, it wasn’t easy to decide, at the moment the duty was primary? May be, since all had mentioned, and she too had been shown as one devoid of heart, the heart had just then start forming, but the brain was still supreme.

Failed Atish goes out and Pramila follows, while they are talking, it is all over inside.

A20

The reverie is over and now in current time again the question is popped. I love you, you love me, then why we are not marrying?

However Pramila isn’t too sure of herself, whether she loves truly, or it is only the effect of the place, is it the body or the soul that wants to unite. And till she is sure of that she won’t commit herself. She is still not sure after three years.

Atish is troubled. “When you are not here I can somehow bear. But when you are here, it is unbearable. Please don’t come here

She too decides that is best “till I can realize myself I won’t meet you again” and goes off next morning, without saying goodbye to Atish who had left before she woke up, obviously to avoid the scene.

If she self realizes she will come back, else, she won’t. The movie doesn’t leave us in midway like most art films do. The realization takes some time, but not too much.

In fact in my opinion this self realization had been a bit hurried. It should have been a few more minutes to make up the mind. There had been allegorical references in biology classes, “the difference between living and non-living” or her sudden flare up at the reference of the ‘lucky plant’, but it didn’t really bring it out the dilemma as it did in “Mere saajan hai us paar

A21

This movie is in some of the reviews been considered as the movie on superstitions, how a progressive and non-believer, Pramila, had been victimized due to this.

However my views are a bit different from that. I look at this movie how a person, who is supposed to be progressive and logical isn’t really so. There are subconscious chambers that close as we are educated, but sometimes they open up. Also new chambers form beside these, through the circumstances and also by the belief of the people whom we live with.

It shows superstitions as they exist, and doesn’t make any judgmental call. It also doesn’t try to educate us on whether they are true or false. The transferring of sickness, whether that would have taken place or not we won’t ever know since Sulabha interrupted that.

At least in one occasion the pure belief on it failed. (when the boy died in the arms of the witch doctor Samaru). In some others it is hinted that it may be true. But there are equal logical explanations that too are immediately brought out. This way the movie is only trying to show how our actions are modified, how we behave when there is a superstition in play in our psyche.

It has a second call also, which too could be called as an anti progressive? May be in one way. It depicts the lead protagonist, Pramila, having single aim in life, her love for academics. She doesn’t seem to realise the feelings of all others that she is playing with, how her actions are hurting the others who care for her. This has been brought up in some episodes but has been mouthed at least a few times by the characters.

When she went to advise Mahdeo, to overcome his grief (for his dead wife) and become strong “Am I too not able to face the situation despite such great personal tragedies?” he says “You are doing it for yourself, but I am doing this for the one who isn’t there in the world

Similarly when She gets the divine flowers (which gives peace) and shows it to Atish, he too says similar thing “You are only bothered of yourself, your own peace, your comfort, did you ever bother of what is happening to others around you?”

In the end when she comes back to Atish, she tells him that she had now come to him after getting rid of all the webs, and as a result now she isn’t afraid of anything, even herself. Did she resign from her academic job? Probably so, as the exchanges seem to indicate.

She asks “had I not been so much tied with academics, which scared you, would you have fallen in love with me?

To the Atish’s response “I don’t know” she says “I do

The trouble with these movies, this one Grahan etc a few, are that every time I watch these I find something new to contemplate upon. With the heavy dose of allegories and the quite a few exceptional protagonists, in each revision, I see something new that I might have missed in my last. Almost each scene, each dialogue is important. If I re-interpret that, it could make me look at some other happening in a new light.

When Pramila had visited the Baba, he had asked her to keep the snake (inside her) in control. When Prashant dies, she is looking for a snake, which has bit him. Is it the same snake she is looking for? Probably so, since when Atish comes to comfort him, at her hysterical behavior, she moves away, “don’t touch me/ come near me”. This snake was definitely one of the main reason of Prashant’s demise.

The Mahadeo episode, his life’s aim was to kill a snake while mating. When that was fulfilled, he didn’t have any other thing to look forward to. Was that Prashant’s state too? His wife might not love him, but there was no doubt he cared for her. Did he find his worries abated, may be wishes fulfilled, when he saw her happy in company of Atish, and then he lost his desire to live? May be to make way for them?

Did he know of the exchange of the sickness? Did he want his path cleared through that or he was as surprised by this as Pramila was. I feel he knew. The “daan” which he was doing, was, if one reflects, most likely to be that. In that case may be he too wanted the competitor out?

However that need not be, since when Sulabha rushes in, he puts the Daan on himself, signifying he wants to keep it with him. Is it realisation? Or was it the disappointment?

6 thoughts on “1978- Kasturi (1980?)”

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