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How Aparna Sen's The Japanese Wife came about
Patcy N | February 05, 2008 12:43 IST
The film is based on a short story from Kunal Basu's new book of the same title, which was launched by Sen at Mumbai's J W Marriott on Monday, February 4. Also present at the function was Konkona Sen Sharma [Images], and Ranvir Shorey.
Sen explained that she decided to film Basu's short story, initially titled Kite, when he narrated it to her. Sen was so moved by the story that she immediately asked Basu for permission to make it into a feature film. But she decided that Kite was not a suitable name for the film, and renamed it The Japanese Wife. Later, the publisher liked the name too, and the story as well as the book was called The Japanese Wife.
Sen admitted that it was challenging for her to flesh out a short story into a full fledged movie. Secondly, as the story was about a Bengali teacher and a Japanese woman, they could only communicate to each other in their broken English. There was humour in their exchange also, as the Japanese woman wondered how she should pronounce, 'Snehmoy.'
There were three reasons why Sen essentially wanted to make a film out of the short story. Firstly, she thought the innocence and the surreal story would be a breath of fresh air from the usually violent films coming out. The humour and the possibility of stunning visuals followed closely behind. The film is mostly shot in the beautiful locales of the Sunderbans forest, in West Bengal, and Japan [Images].
Snehmoy (Rahul Bose) plays a shy man, who keeps to himself. One day, he stumbles upon the address of a Japanese lady Miyage (Chigasu Takaku) in a magazine. Soon, they become pen friends. After a few years, Snehmoy's aunt arranges his marriage with Sondhya (Raima Sen). When Miyage learns of this, she proposes marriage to Snehmoy.
Snehmoy turns down Sondhya's proposal, and has a 'pen wedding' with Miyage. He becomes a very loving husband; when Miyage falls sick, he goes to different types of doctors to get medicine to be sent to Japan.
Years later, Sondhya comes back in Snehmoy's life -- this time, as a widow, and with a child. Snehmoy supports her.
Fifteen years later, Snehmoy recieves a letter and a kite from Miyage. She writes that had they met by now, they would have had a 15-year-old child, who would be flying a kite.
When Aparna Sen was asked why she did not cast her daughter Konkona in the film, she replied that Konkona was very busy. Besides, Sen did not want to cast her daughter in all her films.
And why her Mr and Mrs Iyer star Rahul Bose again? "Soumitra Sen worked with Satyajit Ray in so many movies," she said. "My comfort level with Rahul is great. He trusts me completely."