|HOME | MOVIES | BILLBOARD|
|May 19, 2000||
The return of Prema Karanth
M D Riti
Healer by day, victim at night -- this is Sarita's story. She is a successful paediatrician but is frequently assaulted and raped by her own husband, the man she once fought her family to marry. Bandh Jharokhen (Closed Windows), the Hindi film by award-winning director Prema Karanth, will hit Bangalore theatres on May 26 and bring Sarita's tale to life.
What makes Bandh Jharokhen extra-special, apart from its director, is the fact that it is based on world-famous Indo-Anglian novelist Shashi Deshpande's The Dark Holds No Terrors. Karanth completed the film almost three years ago, funded by NFDC, but was unable to release it through them. So, with NFDC's blessings, she took the initiative herself, booked a theatre and will organise the release with film-maker friend Kavitha Lankesh's assistance.
"Prema's film is quite faithful to my book," says Deshpande. "I was so disturbed by the film when I first watched it three years ago that it brought tears to my eyes. Quite unusual for me, as I am one of those people who never cries when I see a film! I was surprised by my reaction, considering the story was actually written by me."
This novel is one of Deshpande's earlier works, written and published much before she became truly famous or global.
The film has been shot in cinemascope, on a budget of approximately Rs 33 lakhs. Madhu Ambat, who worked on Karanth's first film, Phaniyamma, almost two decades ago, teams up with Prema again as the film's cinematographer.
The music, of course, is by the director's well-known husband -- theatre personality B V Karanth. Interestingly, he has experimented with a different kind of background score for this film. By using different instruments like the sitar for Sarita and the flute for her mother, he adds a distinctive feel to each of the characters.
The story of Jharokhen is fascinating in itself. Sarita, married to her college sweetheart, Manohar, decides to return to hometown Hubli after 15 years to visit her father following her mother's demise.
The sojourn to her parental home helps Sarita look inwards at her own emotional evolution and her estrangement from her mother. She also comes to terms with the accidental death of a family member, which she always felt guilty about.
From there, she looks deeper and finally acknowledges the failure of her marriage, which she clung to as a mark of defiance against her mother. She realises Manu is no longer the man she married. He is now bitter and jealous of her professional success as against what he perceives is his own stagnation as a college lecturer.
Unable or unwilling to accept this, he begins physically harassing her -- from pinching and pummelling to marital rape at night, which he chooses to ignore during the day. His strange behaviour suffocates Sarita and makes her feel she is going insane. It takes the tranquility of life in the small town of Hubli to help her realise it is Manu, and not she, who is not normal. Sarita decides to walk out of the misery of her marriage.
The novel is actually based on a short story, A Liberated Woman, that Deshpande herself had written for a short story contest more than two decades ago. The writer liked the story so much that she felt she had not explored the theme adequately in the short story. So she expanded it into a fully rounded novel, The Dark Holds No Terrors. Deshpande, of course, writes only in English. Did Karanth not consider making the film in English instead of Hindi? "No, I feel it would somehow have looked unnatural," says Karanth thoughtfully.
The lead character, Sarita, is played by Marathi actress Sonali Kulkarni while that of her tormentor, Manu, is played by Marathi actor Tushar Dalvi. Actually, Karanth wanted Hindi actress Pallavi Joshi for the lead, but Joshi could not give her dates at the time.
At about the same time, both Deshpande and Karanth noticed Kulkarni, who played the lead role of a young girl in Girish Karnad's Kannada telefilm, Cheluvi, which was based on famous poet A K Ramanujam's poem about a young girl who turns into a beautiful flowering tree. So Kulkarni it was.
"Neither of these artistes had done the kind of intimate and violent bedroom scenes my film required," says Karanth. "They were both very worried and uncomfortable about it. I promised them I would restrict even the size of the crew as much as possible to help them shed their inhibitions." There was just Ambat, Karanth and two light boys when they shot the scenes of sado-sexual torture.
Karanth first began to work on the script in 1993. She and her husband both knew Deshpande rather well, through the novelist's father the late Adya Rangachar, one of Kannada theatre's most famous playwrights. Karnad himself, and even Mrinal Sen, had shown interest in filming this particular novel, but Karanth managed to get started first. She got Aruna Vikas Raje to script the film in Hindi. The project was approved by NFDC in 1995 and Karanth started shooting in 1996. By April 1997, the film was completed and ready for the screen.
Most of the film was shot in Dharwad in north Karnataka, in the home of Aravind Nadiger, whose father was a student of Deshpande's own father, and in a chawl in Bombay. It has absolutely no songs or fights, but Karanth has attempted to introduce an element of suspense in the film which was not there in the book.
This is actually Karanth's third full length feature film ever, although her first, Phaniyamma, about child widows, was released almost two decades ago. Karanth's second film, Nakkala Rajakumari, also made over a decade ago, was a children's film. In between, she has been quite preoccupied with her work in theatre, especially with children. Both Deshpande and Karanth are waiting eagerly to see how their film will be received by viewers and, hopefully, the film festival circuit..
Do tell us what you think of this feature
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK