The Good and the Best by Aijaz Gul

in 18th Mumbai International Film Festival

by Aijaz Gul

The 8th International Festival – Mumbai had a lot to offer for a person like me who had been raised almost entirely on Hindi Cinema (i.e., Bollywood). There were films in Assami, Marathi, Bengali, English, Malayalam, and of course in Hindi.

I Did Not Kill Gandhi (Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara), directed by Janu Barua, was an impressive attempt in Hindi. Famous actor character-actor Anupam Kher stepped in to finance the film when NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) stepped out. It was not a high-budget venture, but we must salute Anupam Kher for this courageous attempt. Anupam Kher also plays the leading dramatic role in this cinematic jewel.

Anupam Kher plays a professor who has just retired. The irony is that retirement may bring plenty of free time for leisure but it has its liabilities. Anupam has lost his wife and he is beginning to lose his memory in a very severe way for which the clinical term is dementia. He now strongly believes that he is being accused of killing Mahatma Gandhi. Flashbacks take us into his horrible childhood past when tragic events happen which have brought Anupam to the present state of affairs. His daughter, Urmila Matonodkar, and the doctors get together to stage a lengthy but gripping court scene to help Anumpam Kher get rid of his guilt and his haunting past. It is a risky business in terms of Anupam’s medical history, but it works in the end.

Anupam Kher shines in the leading role and gives one of the most powerful performances of his career. Urmilla Matondkar, who had been running and dancing behind the trees till recently, has suddenly become a worthy actress. Here as the miserable daughter who has lost her boyfriend to another girl and is about to lose her father, she makes sure nothing but the best treatment comes for the father.

Director Ritupamo Ghosh has done a wonderful job with his new Bengali feature The Views of the Inner Chamber (Antarmahal). This is a 19 th century drama of lust, greed, wealth and making the goddess happy. The wealthy landlord (played by Jackie Shroff) is a debauch who has nothing to do except drink in buckets and sexually assault his second wife every night. The first wife has nothing to do except pass sarcastic and bitter remarks on the husband and the second wife. Sculptor Abhishak Bachcan is the only character in the film who speaks Hindi, but he does not utter much, and things are pretty much conveyed through his dark and beautiful eyes. The two wives, Soha Ali and Rupa Gangooly, are equally impressive. Inner Chamber does wonders in recreating 19 th century Bengali décor. The camerawork, editing and sound excel beyond description. The dark, sinful and macabre ambience comes out perfectly in every scene.