Rereading Charulata, an intriguing tale

Rereading Charulata, an intriguing tale

Rereading Charulata, an intriguing taleA tribute to master craftsman Satyajit Ray

A 54-year-old classic and a film touted as pure poetry, Satyajit Ray’s Charulatawill now get a rereading through Shruthi Namboodiri’s eight-minute musical with the same title. “A fresh take on the story of Charu, it’s a humble tribute to the master and his art,” says Shruthi.

Released in 1964 and revolving around its young leading lady, Charulata is a nuanced exploration of relationships. “I was always fascinated with the concept of lonesome woman and in the film there is this very undefined relationship Charu shares with her brother-in-law. I found the basic thread very intriguing,” she says.

Charu, Ray’s heroine caught in the whirlwind of solitude and yearning, is recreated against a different backdrop in the musical. “In our production we have tried to focus on the Charu-Amal angle, the ebb and flow of their romance and the consequent separation,” Shruthi says.

If fitting the entire story into eight minutes was absolutely impossible, recreating the 1900s turned out to be another task. “Since our budget was limited we fast forwarded the time frame to 1970s but retained that quaint, nostalgic element of the past. In a sense we were lucky because even today Kolkata has abandoned streets and archaic suburbs.”

Emergency period

In Shruthi’s Charulata, the story takes places during Emergency, a state that contributes much to the overall conflict. She adds the musical has surreal streaks as there is often an interplay of past and present, dream and reality.

Reprising the role of Charu is noted classical dancer Parvathy Menon and joining her are composer Bijibal and lyricist B.K. Harinarayanan as Bhupati and Amal.

“I picked three non-actors because they are perfect for the roles. Charu’s husband has a Buddha-like calmness and depth to him and Bijibal was the only face that came to my mind while casting,” she says. Sudeep Palanad has composed the music and rendered the lines penned by the director herself.

Shruthi says apart from sticking to the storyline and characters, no attempt has been made to recreate the original.

“You can never recreate the Ray magic. You can’t just copy a particular scene and claim it as a recreation because his craft is inimitable,” she says.

Charulata will be premiered on Wednesday at the International Film Festival of Thrissur (IFFT) at 4 p.m.

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