This is an extremely interesting novel, not so well translated into movie. The basic plot of the story is ,
We have the central protagonist Dheeru though Post graduate in qualification, but unemployed. He does small works for livelihood and stays in a room of a dilapidated room in the outskirts of Calcutta. His immediate neighbor is his old, now deceased, friend’s elder brother Ganu and his family consisting of his wife (Swarnamayi but never called by any other name than Sonaboudi, the name given to her by her now dead brother in law Ranu) and three children (one in the movie). At a monthly contribution there, he gets his dinner from there.
Obviously at that age with no money in pocket, obviously unemployed, he can’t do anything more than ogle at the girls, which he does sitting on the bench of a park. Considering his bearing, even the prostitute don’t show interest in him, though while registering the girls in details, he does so with them too, especially one youngish girl in early twenties (Kanchan)
One day while ogling at everything feminine, in market place, he bumps in one whom he knew. She too, initially irritated at the man staring at her, recognizes. It was his village-elder sister Charu. She was his puppy love, about ten years older. She married and after a brief domestic life became widow. Later she left her in-laws place, definitely there was some scandal, since no one talked about her and diverted the topic if he tried to ask. There was a man too he had seen often with her. After that, he was seeing her after about two decades.
He had been asked to come again, but he doesn’t, his ego overrides the need, and surprisingly she herself does with a man in tow. It is not one of her lovers though, since he, Amit, calls her aunt. She takes Dheeru home, where she lives with a single young, and pretty but tough and no-nonsense, maid servant, Parbati.
Charu, aware of his situation, gives Dheeru a letter to be delivered to one Himanshu Mitra. He would do something for him. What was in the letter is unknown. Dheeru opens the letter, though skillfully but still that was noticed by Himanshu. To the query he boldly replies that he wanted to know whether it was a job recommendation letter, had it been, he would have torn it off and not come. At Himanshu’s home he comes across his son Sitanshu and a younger girl.
Whatever might have been in the letter, he gets a job and has to report to the medical store, the factory outlet, the next day. In the shop he meets Ramen Haldar, a sales boy and later the resident doctor Latika Sarkar, the young girl of previous day, the second non-smiling woman, and this one is tough almost to the point of rude and insulting, which came with the chair.
Within a few days however situation changed. The person who all were thinking ordinary salesman-trainee was in fact designated to be a big officer and he was here only to see how things work. That surprised and changed the behavior of all, including Latika, but not of Dheeru.
Dheeru soon shifted to the factory as the Office superintendent, which I would call as Chief Administrative officer. The COO of course was Sitanshu, and there to Dheeru’s surprise the equally powerful Chief Technical was that Amit Ghosh, who was nephew of Himanshu, and only called Charu as aunt, which she wasn’t. In that case Himanshu and Charu would have been siblings (Mama and Masi), which relation obviously they didn’t want to be in.
These two COO and CTO were always on loggerheads with the CEO (Himanshu) in dilemma, whom to favor. His preference was Sitanshu, obviously, but he loved his orphan nephew, Amit, too very dearly. Amit however didn’t think so, and his concept was that he was unwanted and friendless in his uncle’s world.
He had quite a few things to prove that, at least to himself. The most significant was the current situation. Labanya was his discovery and he had trained her and then his girlfriend was stolen by Sitanshu.
This was probably Labanya’s doing, she was one of those who like to grow fast, looked for the best tree to support her growth. She started with Amit and then found Sitanshu as a faster growing tree, and hence would be able to fuel her growth by pulling her career along his. In addition to this, Amit after some initial problems had developed a certain mental aberration along with the persecution complex. This would naturally repel the, or any, girl.
With Dheeru as Amit’s man, but reporting to Sitanshu, obviously his life wasn’t too cool with clear dislike from the adversaries, Labanya and Sitanshu. But then it came out that the factory was financed by Charu (with her husband’s money) and Amit (with his dead parent’s money used for the purpose) and they held around 25% and 20% shares. The rest, was Himashu’s and Sitanshu’s who though didn’t use their money, but got sweat-shares. Dheeru as Charu’s representative in the company was inviolable.
At home, SultanKuthi, the things were not too cool either. There were fingers at his relation with the Sonaboudi, and it brought suspicion even on husband Ganu’s mind. However Ganu too, partially due to poverty, partially due to his own greed, wanted advancement which could only come from Dheeru, with his new status. He used him as leverage, and got promoted in office.
However with extra cash, he fell in bad company, of gambling, drink and brothel. His situations were worsened by the suspicion continually fueled by another of the occupants of the building Ramani Pandit, who disliked Dheeru and took revenge this way. It didn’t take much time to start swindling funds from office and Ganu lost his job.
This Sonaboudi for all practical purposes was mother figure for Dheeru, and so he didn’t care of the fingers, nor did Sonaboudi till Ganu started having suspicion. But like all children, even the slight avoidance of Sonaboudi was felt strongly by Dheeru. He would sulk, make a hue and cry like children do. Almost unmindful of the helplessness of Sonaboudi in this matter his ire would be directed on her, though not in open in words, but you can’t really hide things from mother.
Dheeru was obviously attracted to Labanya, however she was with Sitanshu. Amit had eyes on Parbati, in practical absence of Labanya for him, Charu’s maid servant, only Dheeru didn’t have any. During one of the jealous episodes Dheeru goes home, wets himself (trying to cool down) in winter and falls seriously sick. During this episode, all the bosses, including Labanya (except Amit), comes to meet him, and obviously meets Sonaboudi too. There were some obviously remarks about her by Charu and Himanshu, so it could be assumed that not only jealous Labanya but the outsiders too didn’t treat two unrelated person being so closely related without suspicion.
Meanwhile the growth of Dheeru at works had been rapid, he was the darling of management (at least Himanshu and Amit) and the labour. In addition, he had good writing skills, so he became de-facto personal assistant to Himanshu writing all his speeches and helping him. During one of these major work-load he shifted to Himanshu’s home for a couple of months, and during his stay there was the time when Ganu lost job.
Himanshu went for a long tour to Europe to study the way they do business and run factories. Before going he won a major victory by getting Sitanshu married to a girl of his choice. But in his absence, the two love-birds again started meeting. In addition, may be fueled by jealousy, the struggle between Sitanshu and Amit became full-fledged war. Amit decided to withdraw his share from the company and float a new one, and he had plans to make Charu too be in his side, by convincing her to withdraw her share. In the meantime, he tried to sabotage the company by collecting some damning evidences, enough to close it down.
In this fight the first casualty was Dheeru. Of course he couldn’t be sacked, but he himself dissociated himself from all the affairs “till Himanshu comes back from tour” and disappeared. He not only stopped coming to office, but also didn’t go to Sultankuthi, and moved into an obscure small hotel. But it was known to all he can’t stay away and one day or other he would come to meet Sonaboudi. She was requested to calm him down and sent back. If not office than at least to Himanshu’s home, was the plea of Sitanshu’s bride, who too had become somewhat close to Dheeru. Finally he did land up and couldn’t ignore Sonaboudi’s request, which she later said, and he too didn’t deny, was always more than an order for him.
This was the era of misfortune. A few days back the prostitute that Dheeru in his poor days eyed (Kanchan), had been admitted in Labanya’s nursing home, under the impression that she was an acquaintance of Dheeru. It automatically generated a bad blood between them, enough for her to declare that he take the patient away from her nursing home. But it got clarified the moment she came to know that the acquaintance wasn’t of that type and then she not only helped her to recuperate but also arranged a job for her. It indicates a clear cases of excessive jealousy.
During this time even this matter again escalated. This girl had befriended one of the protégés of Dheeru (Ramen Haldar), in an honest way, without hiding her past. This boy wanted to have his own life and the capital he tried off the company, through pilferage. He was caught and given the pink slip, and soon the girl too followed his path, on the road. Despite all the rude words, Dheeru came forwards, when the girl came to him pleading, and financed a business for the two. Obviously it could again point finger of suspicion towards him.
Ganu was caught in flesh trafficking, the first one he attempted, of the daughter of his bosom friend Ramen Pandit, and the kingpin of the trade was found to be the son of another inhabitant of the same complex.
Without any money, Sonaboudi committed suicide, so that the life insurance money, that Ganu had a joint one with her, could be used to bring up her children and made Dheeru the trustee.
Parbati was found to be pregnant, with Amit’s child. Amit had a breakdown and took shelter in Sultankuthi in hiding, with none other than Dheeru aware of his whereabouts.
Meanwhile Himanshu had come back and he along with Dheeru were on damage control, and what was only necessary was that the evidences with Amit needed to be destroyed. Being intelligent, Himanshu guessed the hiding place and reached Amit, more like a visitor than inquisitor. But even in that Amit had, assuming Dheeru to have sang to Himanshu, deserted Sultankuthi, but on the road had a stroke and finally landed up in Charu’s home, under complete control of Parbati.
Meanwhile there was an angry exchange between Labanya and Dheeru. It all was bearable till Labanya quite openly hinted her opinion, of the illegitimate relationship between Dheeru and Sonaboudi, culminating in the downfall and eventual jail of the jealous husband and suicide of the wife. Angry Dheeru sexually assaulted Labanya. Though before leaving he kept the suicide note of Sonaboudi, clearing his name, but that could clear one aspect, jealousy, but not the anger of violation.
It continued, with the two only aware of what had happened, till it exploded at Charu’s home, when Labanya guessed and exploded the bomb, not suspicion but accusation, that the damning materials were with Dheeru, with a tone implying that he had kept there with his own agenda, else he would have given them to Himanshu.
She was right and Dheeru didn’t deny but he went over to meet Amit, and this meeting was the only one Parbati permitted and didn’t implement the “No Visitor” policy. With information, not really permission, he did ask but Amit kept quiet, Dheeru took Labanya with him to Sultan Kuthi and gave her all the papers and documents that Amit had given him, under oath of friendship to keep.
He could have come alone, taken the files and handed over, but bringing her and giving the files there could have had only one meaning. Without Sonaboudi now, the only ship-mast where the bird would land sooner or later now demolished, there was no way they could ever trace him in the crowd. She knew that it was the final farewell, and she could not afford that. So she moved in immediately, not even taking the risk of going back, handing over the files, and coming back again, afraid that in the meantime, he would disappear, which most probably he would have.
Movie ends here but the Novel continues for a few more year (in a single page) or jumps over a couple of year. Both have dissociated from the Mitras and Charu. Parbati has one fine day left with the still recuperating Amit, and is untraceable. May not be really I assume, but the families left them alone. Labanya has her own nursing home and was constructing one, not willing to be in rented house any more. However their place of residence continued to be Sultankuthi.
Now they, the only inhabitants then are forced to vacate it. All others have already shifted elsewhere. The notification of dangerous building to be demolished has been served, and the next morning they would shift to the partially completed, but own, home. Dheeru, obviously jobless, has decided to become a writer and has completed his memoir, while his wife (most probably, since those days there were no living together concept, except in real life these two persons) and their (but not their) three children slept in the bed in a close knot.
Dheeru meanwhile talks to Sonaboudi, trying to hurt her where it would most, stealing her children off her “Just go and watch in the side room how comfortably and peacefully the three are sleeping with their face on someone else’s bosom. I will see to it that they forget you.” of course it ends with pitiful cry “I still will keep on repeating forever, that what you did to me was not right”
Interesting age analysis of the novel is (which again brings that relations do not see age, but the heart)
- Dheerapada Chakraborty – 35
- Sona boudi – 30
- Labanya Sarkar – 25
- Amitabha Ghosh – 32
- Parbati – 22
- Himanshu Mitra – 58
- Charudi – 45
- Sitanshu Mitra – 28
- Kanchan – 21
If we see Sonaboudi and Dheeru’s age, as depicted in the story, it wasn’t strange that their relation had been so misconstrued. Their age was the right age for a couple. But as Dheeru mentions “Sonaboudi’s age was undefinable, when she talked, she would look the corresponding age”
In fact the couples in the story were all with a decade separating them Dheer-Labanya (10), Amit-Parbati (10), Himanshu-Charu (13). The pairing attempted but misfired were better Amit-Labanya (7) or the best Sitangshu- Labanya (4).
I really don’t blame the movie. The plot even in this stripped down format is very complex, it would have been very difficult to compress it all into a movie. In the end it was only partially done.