Rituparno Ghosh's latest Bengali venture "Dosar" (The Companion)" is a poignant film that takes a different approach to the much-dealt with subject of infidelity.
The film, screened in New Delhi as the inaugural of the first Habitat Film Festival, is set in 21st-century urban Kolkata.
The film starts with the male protagonist Kaushik, played by Prosenjit Chatterjee, enjoying a weekend getaway with his colleague-cum-lady love.
The sojourn ends with a car accident, leaving her dead and him in a critical condition while exposing their extra-marital affair.
His wife Kaberi (beautifully portrayed by Konkana Sensharma) rushes to the hospital and is overcome with agony and anger combined with grief.
The storyline seems simple but what sets it apart is the treatment and screenplay. The attempt to capture a 21st century setting in black and white film is definitely a bold step - a positive risk taken by both the director and the producer - Planman Motion Pictures.
This textural treatment also enables the wonderful interplay of light and shade and highlights the grey shades of all human relations and emotions.
While the wife in Kaberi wants to see Kaushik healthy again, the strong feminist in her hates the idea of nursing the man who has betrayed her.
Ghosh looks at Kaberi's struggle both outside and inside herself. It is as though her whole world has fallen apart in front of her eyes.
She often threatens divorce but ultimately is overpowered by the wife in her and cannot desist fulfilling her duties towards her husband at the time of crisis.
On the other hand, Kaushik too is caught in his own predicament. The physical and mental trauma caused by the accident are portrayed with great skill and subtlety by Prosenjit. He has to not only come to terms with the loss of a loved one but is faced with the daunting task of winning back his wife's trust.
The lilting background score and the extensive use of Bengali poetry enhances the depiction of the complex human emotions.
What mars the sensitivity of the film are the unnecessary, almost-crass sex scenes. These could very well have been avoided. And finally, despite a fresh approach to the subject, the film fails to break socio-familial stereotypes.
'Dosar' - the black and white of infidelity