23 January 2006 | Aam_Aadmi
Newspapers only tell half the 'story'
Anyone who has 'lived' thru the tense moments of any religious riot in India, can immediately identify with the bus scene in "Mr & Mrs Iyer". Likewise, the actual experience of living in a Calcutta, firmly in the vicious grip of the Naxalite movement, can color your perceptions about the reading of this movie, whether intentional or not.
The movement, which primarily found host in the predominantly communist states of Kerala and W. Bengal, later morphed into various factions and sowed the seeds of separatist tendencies in places like Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Results have been mixed and less than spectacular mainly posing a big security risk for state governments.
But this film is not about extremism or the violence it ensues. Instead it tries to diagnose the ideological underpinnings at work, individual and collective psychologies of various proponent groups, as well as the impact on families involved and their relationships with each other. It asks in effect: what is the point of fighting for unity, equal rights, justice, etc when the price to be paid is your own family and the very foundations of civil society, regardless if the fight is just or not? Does the end justify the means?
Nihalani has chosen to use family as a metaphor, to essay the sense of guilt, betrayal, resignation and subordination all captured brilliantly in one time and place. The cast is excellent and has delivered well. In one of her best performances so far, Jaya Bachchan is reflective, yet quietly indignant. Anupam Kher, Seema Biswas, Joy Sengupta and Nandita Das in an introductory role form the remaining cast. Though the editing isn't as slick as "Ardhsatya" and the pace slows down several times, the direction is superb as is the cinematography in capturing the prevalent mood of the time.
Indeed, a very good must-see film.