12 August 2009 | Peter_Young
The power of a mother's love
There is no film in the world which has ever shown the enduring power of a mother's love for her child as well as Asit Sen's Mamta. This is such an extraordinary and heart-breaking film that no words can be good enough to describe it. This is the story of a poor girl who loves a man but circumstances force her to get married to a real monster. The only good thing she got from this terrifying marriage is her daughter, Suparna. The name of the woman is Devyani, but when she runs away from her husband, she finds herself working in a brothel with a new name, Pannabai. When she understands her husband won't leave her and her daughter alone, she decides to give her to a monastery. She then meets the man she loved, who has become a lawyer, and asks him to take her daughter under his custody. That's how she quietly observes her daughter's upbringing, when the latter does not even know of her mother's existence.
In Mamta, Asit Sen directed a classic. Despite having a story which often gets unjustified scripts, here it works. Every scene in this film is powerful and moving. Mamta is beautifully directed and shot, superbly acted, and is visually pleasing. The dialogues never go over-the-top, the emotions never feel clichéd despite being so strong. This is one film where any sort of sentimentality is completely justified, and not for a moment does it look forced or lacking in integrity. That's where the film scores and that's why it is so touching. The music, composed by Roshan, is fantastic. "Rahe Na Rahe Hum" is the best of the lot. There are also several Ghazals by Lata Mangeshkar which are beautiful. The entire concept of a woman who would do anything for the sake of her daughter, including murder, and even separate from her, might look overly heroic and done-to-death on paper, but in the film it's thoroughly real and believable.
Suchitra Sen, who according to me is one of the most talented actresses in India, is nothing short of spectacular in her distinct portrayals of the loving and tormented mother and the independent, dignified daughter. She is compelling and beautiful throughout, skillfully striking a balance between restraint and temperamental emotion in both the characters she plays. Playing two different roles in one film is not an easy task, even though this has been quite a common standard in Hindi films. Yet, Sen manages to breath a different life into each character by playing them so differently, with a subtle but significant change in style, body language, mannerisms, and her forceful dialogue delivery. She is supported by one of my all-time favourite actors, Ashok Kumar. Known for his naturalistic style, he is simply outstanding as Manish Roy, creating another restrained, controlled and likable persona. Dharmendra provides good support.
Towards the end, the film becomes increasingly more and more interesting. The climax is great, and the moment the truth is revealed is shivering. All the scenes which take part in court are fantastic, the last scene being the best. Suchitra Sen's monologue in court in this scene (in the role of the daughter) is one of the best scenes I've seen in a film. All in all, Mamta is one of the most amazing, heart-breaking films I've seen. This is one Hindi melodrama which just works, actually one of the few that do, and that's because it's honest and genuine. A wonderful, classic gem that everyone must watch.