Review on Aparna Sen’s ‘Iti ‘Mrinalini’: An Unfinished Letter…’

Film Poster

It is Mental Ditty!:

Yet once again, Aparna Sen’s ‘Iti ‘Mrinalini’: An Unfinished Letter…’ has created poetry on screen. Though some criticisms – by the famous ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ and the like – have wrongly assessed the film without even minutely watching it, yet a wrong critique cannot, in any way, mar the film’s extensive appeal to the true movie buffs and cineastes. The film has been wrongly called ‘melodramatic’ and even some self-proclaimed critics have blunderingly named some characters. After all this is not expected in relation to such films as of Sen’s.

Now, leaving behind my correctional and cautionary discussion above directed to some self-proclaimed film critics, I shall come down to the real and unbiased critique of the film. After having watched Sen’s quite a few films with rapt attention one can easily find a familiar colour and superficial calmness pitted against an inner turmoil in the film. The characters think and move just as we do – naturally. There is even no over-emphasis on unnatural music and unnatural gestures. The backdrop of each character in every emotional condition seems to complement the unknown and known thoughts of the viewer finding himself/herself easily identifiable with the characters at several moments in life. Instances of Pathetic Fallacy abound in the film, though with artistic restraint so that some even go unheeded. The best moment of love in most films taken together is the scene where Chintan Nair (Kaushik Sen) and young Mrinalini Mitra (Konkona Sen Sharma) discuss the aspects of love that frees oneself and is without expectations. The meteoric rise of an actress and her gradual, but desperate, search for satisfying love in the actually lonely and mercenary world of glamour are what the film shows in a glaring light, though various other themes overrun the film’s expanse. References to Shakti Chattopadhyay’s, Vladimir Mayakovsky’s and W.B. Yeats’s poems can be found. Passing references to François Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman and Jean-Luc Godard are also there. Art direction, as in Sen’s other films, has been very well carried out. Only one song – sung by the younger Mrinalini at a party – seemed incongruous in the whole movie, coupled with some minor anachronisms.

A letter – a suicide note bearing exculpatory indication on the part of others with whom Mrinalini was, has been and is linked – being written along the entire film gives the older Mrinalni flashbacks by dint of which the whole story gets told and seen. But, ironically the letter remains unfinished and finally discarded by Mrinalini when touched by a ray of hope form Chintan’s message. Yet, the first rays of the morning sun has something in it’s store. She dies a silent death. And the way the camera moves vertically up keeping the focus on her dead body bears parallels with a scene in ‘Inglourious Basterds’ where the twin murder takes place inside the room from where a film is projected on screen. To sum up, Sen’s movie is a product of curious toil and astute storytelling that is characteristic of all her films. And lastly, one must watch the film observingly before commenting pedantically on it for just the sake of commenting.

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About Purnendu Dey

I am an English Teacher at a Government-aided school. View all posts by Purnendu Dey

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