"What is it that you want Radhika? Love, beauty or truth?"
Iqbal(Adil Hussain),a painter asks Radhika(Zerifa).
Exhausted internally yet ever unwilling to be defeated Radhika's firm answer : "Life.And absolutely nothing else."
The film "Raag.. the rhythm of love" proceeds with Radhika's love for life. It is a story about a simple but immensely creative woman's journey in search of life and the struggle, challenges that she confronts on her way. Sans creating any melodramatic situation the story culminates with a positive note in a fascinating twist in an absolutely authentic and lucid manner.
Radhika is simple and definitely not one of those to have a lucently planned life. For this, she appears to be rather careless and uncalculating. Mayhap this is also the reason why she frequently loses stuff, messes up while handling matters of mundane importance; or at times she would be too late to reach a destination, or even end up meeting with some accident or other owing to her sheer carelessness. Interestingly, her exact opposite is her husband Alok who has a knack to do everything in a meticulously minute and organized way. Such outright contrast brings tremendous changes into her life.
A powerful entry into the story is that of Iqbal after being utterly ruined in an unsuccessful marriage whose flutist wife moves to Czech Republic with their only daughter after seven years of their marriage.
The other two important characters of the film are Radhika's old buddy Partha and Alok's colleague Nandini.
How difficult it is to continue a relationship in turmoil becomes evident in the portrayal of Radhika's character. It indeed happens at times when we fail to understand the people closest to us whereas we tend to claim the otherwise. "Raag" poses the spectators before various insightful questions and situations through Radhika's life. Love that withers with time, and the trust, infatuation, friendship, disillusion versus understanding of a relationship at ordeal and more questions such as what if you see conflict in your relation and what if you see love decaying in front of your eyes, is it possible to live in spite of it? Shouldn't life stop there? Or even if it seems selfish should you still seek for some inspiration, some company ?The Meera bhajans in Radhika's voice echo the eternal perplexity while seeking for some love, some trust and longing for motherhood, just like Iqbal's paintings that come to life at his sheer touch.
Appearing rather fragile at the beginning of the film, Radhika however retrieves her life in an indomitable spirit through music suppressing all pains undesired for. Had life been all about being up to date in a competition oriented market, such robust idea of life would not have come up to her.
Although it is a film in the Assamese language, yet for the sake of the story Hindi and English are used as well. The dialogues appear to be simple and devoid of any melodrama. The number of few flashback scenes refrains from disturbing the smooth pace of the story, rather it avers the solid maturity of the script. It is more delightful for the fact that rather than emphasizing on the story, the meticulous efforts are put to build the characters. Nevertheless, the character of Iqbal towards the end, I feel, should have got more importance.
Ajayan Vincent, the cinematographer let us know that due to the small scale budget the entire film had to be shot with old camera. But then, the lethargic pace that we usually see in Assamese films could not be seen here. In certain places there is variation of colors. It could be because of the overwhelming charm of the pictures and music that as ordinary audience we did not feel any trouble.
When it comes to costume, all are dressed totally decent, especially Radhika's dresses and the choice of color is more than wonderful. Colors that we choose for dresses somehow tend to express a lot about our inner state of mind, at least that is how I felt. The desire to see Iqbal's paintings a bit more deeply however remained less than fulfilled!
Interestingly, the music in the film (lyrics and tune both considered) is what makes the story get going in a fluid manner. Anindita Paul's Meere bhajans that we hear in Radhika's lips as a singer are mellifluous to say in a single word.
Very few characters are initiated in this film, but the acting of the principal characters is quite accurate. Mention must be made of Zerifa Wahid. What I feel about the character of Alok(Kenny Basumatary) is somehow there remained some drawback in his delivery of dialogues in Assamese. For some while director Rajni Basumatary and few other familiar Assamese faces from Delhi are also seen.
True it is, that there is hardly any story of the daily struggle of earning bread and butter in this film. What we do see is how much the genuine artists have to go through in the face of market oriented competition and its challenges and there is a sincere effort to give a positive solution to the whole thing that meets the demand of present times. More than that, a film that addresses issues like that of freedom of choosing one's own work rather than merely freedom of work, experiments on the pace of relationships is definitely a good addition to the Assamese film industry at a time when the industry suffers from terrible lack of thought provoking films.
Other than the script mention must also be made of the director of the film. What marks the achievement of a director is the ability to keep intact a healthy restraint on emotions and the storyline instead of creating a dramatically tragic atmosphere through miserable background music. It is of course by virtue of the director's quality that the body language of the characters in the scenes without dialogues have been able to express a lot. If we have an abundance of such directors in the coming years, it would be just more than fun to frequent the cinema halls to watch Assamese movies.
Although few in numbers, there were still audiences in the hall. By the time it was screened last year in the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival, the film had several special screenings in many places. Everone associated with the film can hope for appreciation from viewers.
Translated by Daisy Barman
( Sujata Hatibaruah teaches Political Science in Puthimari College in lower Assam's Kamrup district. Her interested areas include Human Rights, women and children issues, films, culture etc. She can be reached at email@example.com )
(Daisy Barman is a scribbler and translator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )
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