Durga Puja, the most important festival of Bengali’s is the worship of ‘Shakti’ or the divine power and Maa Shakti’s four children, Ganesh, Kartikeya, Laxmi and Saraswati. Its an Utsab, festival season, a time to celebrate when families come together to worship, eat, laugh and enjoy the togetherness.
This also happens in the movie Utsab, a tale beautifully woven by Rituparno Ghosh. A director I have come to admire so much, I want to see all his movies.
The matriarch has four children, the eldest, Asit, trying to solve everyones problem is much like lord Ganesha, The second son, Nishit has work related problems that he wants to keep secret, but his wife knows -how she knows it, even he does not know The eldest daughter ,Parul, is married to a rich family, it was an arranged marriage against her wishes, for, she loved her poor cousin (Shishir – he too is a rich builder now ) her past haunts her, her husband taunts her and she thinks her grown up son, who is kind of repeating the history by being attracted to Asit’s beautiful daughter, is unaware of her turbulent past. The youngest daughter, Keya, an artist by heart, loves music, married against the families wishes, to a painter and a passionate politician who unfortunately lost out in the politics game and took to drinking. They have immense love simmering for each other which the viewer sees but somehow they fail to – entangled into the web of petty quarrel, they even talk of separation and perhaps seriously so.
The play of emotions of each of these family members, who become your family members as you sit and watch the movie strike many familiar cords. Suppressed emotions hide in shadows and happy ones play with bursts of light. There is always a talk of rain clouds, it even rains, but one does not see it -just feel its aftereffects.
Amidst all this is celebrated a festival. The festival of togetherness, the festival of family bonding, the festival of lights, festival of joy and festival of victory of good over evil -Durga Pooja and Vijayadashmi. While you sit and watch the movie it unfolds like a family reunion, just like the video Joy, Parul’s son shoots.
The movie is in Bengali with english subtitles. Knowledge of elementary bengali helped, but I wish I could understand the finer nuances of the rich language to completely understand it -specially the beautiful song which Shompa, Asit’s daughter sings.