LIFE GOES ON – Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on March 25, 2011 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Stormglass Productions, DIRECTOR – Sangeeta Datta, WRITER – Sangeeta Datta, CAST – Girish Karnad, Om Puri, Sharmila Tagore, Soha Ali Khan, Mukulika Banerjee, Neerja Naik, Rez Kempton, Steph Patten and Christopher Hatherall, MUSIC – Soumik Datta
As the name suggests, the film is about the irrepressible ability of life to flow. Like water. Unmindful of any other reality but its own nature. Not even death.
Sangeeta Datta plays with themes of life, death, family, marriage, prejudice, love, loss and reconciliation in ‘Life goes on’. The Banerjees are a normal Bengali expat family comprising of Dr. Sanjay Banerjee (Girish Karnad), a doctor in his late fifties, his wife Manju (Sharmila Tagore) and three daughters. The elder couple steadfastly hold onto their bhadra lok status and Bengali values. The eldest daughter Lolita (Mukulika Banerjee) is in a not-so happy married to a Britisher John. The second daughter Tulika (Neerja Naik) lives with her lesbian lover and the youngest Dia, lives with her parents, in love with a Muslim boy Imtiaz (Rez Kempton). They are going on with their separate lives when the mother’s death brings them together under the same roof for six days, suffering the same pain but dealing with it in different ways. With thematic references to Shakespeare’s King Lear, the film is as much the daughter’s story as it is the father’s.
Characters go through their own journeys while dealing with their own issues. The central character of Dr Banerjee resonates with his Lear-ish counterpart as he struggles to overcome his prejudices against the choice of his youngest daughter. In times of cultural prejudices this thematic strand is contemporary especially in the British Indian NRI milieu the family inhabits.
The film chooses to travel a slow and lyrical trajectory as it weaves present and past in cut-backs, flashbacks and memories. It draws a portrait of a family of individuals all caught up in their own crises now thrown apart because of the death of the mother, the strand that held them together. Devoid of any sentimentality, the emotional over-tones and deliberate slow pace of the film becomes pretentiously evocative and surface-dry.
Use of pleasing visuals tied up with Rabindra Sangeet and some of his actual songs give the film the edge of quality that the direction and writing lacks. Neither engaging nor moving, the narrative becomes tiring with its seemingly pointless tracks meandering through to their ending laced with a forced and clichéd subtlety.
Evidently, the purpose of the film is to portray the finer nuances of relationships and dealing with loss and emotional distance. The result however is a sluggish, fragmented and meandering story told with little insight or depth which renders all else useless, even the admirable names associated with it.