Review: Noukadubi

Noukadubi (Dir.: Rituparno Ghosh; Cast: Riya Sen, Raima Sen, Jishu Sengupta, Prosenjit Chatterjee et al.)

Noukadubi (The Boatwreck) is Rituparno Ghosh’s adaptation of the Rabindranath Tagore novel bearing the same title.

The plot of Noukadubi deals with a case of mistaken identity and the ensuing choices and about how it affects the lives of a number of people. Rituparno Ghosh, one of the best film directors at present, is a master of building films around human relationships and he does very well yet again with this Tagore novel.

Jishu Sengupta, Raima Sen, Riya Sen and Prosenjit Chatterjee play the four central characters. Dhritiman Chatterjee and Laboni Sarkar play other major characters. The plot is an integral part of enjoying the film in case one has not experienced the novel previously. Hence, this review steers clear of spoiling the plot, apart from stating that it revolves around a quadrangular interaction between Ramesh, Hemnalini, Kamala and Nalinaksha involving several twists in the plot and subsequently, in the fates of these characters.

The film is dominated in terms of screen time by Jishu Sengupta and Riya Sen, while Prosenjit’s character has notably less time and presence. Jishu delivers a measured performance as does Raima. While one expects Raima to act out a character like hers here with ease, the revelation in this film is her sister Riya. Riya delivers a strong performance, which was critical to hinge the film together, in her portrayal of a victim of an unfortunate series of events. Prosenjit, in a guest appearance of sorts, shows his class truly. One of the more memorable sequences of the film for me belongs to him where he lip-syncs to a hymn sung by Srikanto Acharya sitting on a riverbank structure. The scene is magical in its serenity and is an enduring image from the film.

.. not among Rituparno’s best but it is definitely a good treat for a Tagore aficionado

Talking of music, Rituparno has utilized the beauty and power of Rabindrasangeet with great sensitivity in the past and Noukadubi is an addition to that list. While a poignant scene between a father and his daughter is perhaps the best in terms of word-laden moments, the heavy score in the tunes of a more famous song by the bard fits another critical moment in the film perfectly and is bolstered by some stunning cinematography.

In conclusion, Noukadubi is certainly not among Rituparno’s best but it is definitely a good treat for a Tagore aficionado. For an audience unfamiliar with Tagore, the goosebumps could be missing in cases where Rituparno’s love for Tagore is resonating and vocal in how he describes emotions through the novelist’s own words and tunes, but it is beautiful cinema nonetheless.

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