Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer: Don't Look Away

This is a hauntingly beautiful song from one of my all-time favorite movies, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, from India's most intelligent director Aparna Sen, and starring two of its most intelligent actors, Konkona Sensharma and Rahul Bose. Amazingly, this movie came out the same year as Titli, another fine, fine film in which Konkona Sensharma plays a teenager. Aparna Sen's movies have always been done in English, although she has a Hindi movie in the works. She follows Satyajit Ray, and is followed by Rituparno Ghosh, who directed Titli.

Here is the more languid version of the song for the opening credits. This is a beautiful film. See it if you can. See all of Aparna Sen's movies, starting with 36 Chowringee Lane, starring the luminous Jennifer Kendall Kapoor in one of her last roles.

Konkona Sensharma is Aparna Sen's daughter. Sen lives in Calcutta. (Officially, the name has been indianized to Kolkata, but nobody I know calls it that.) Calcutta is India's intellectual capital. Almost everyone in Calcutta is multilingual, speaking Bengali, Hindi, and/or English, often better than most Englishmen. There seems to be a disproportionate number of fine filmmakers, writers, journalists there. There are all kinds of people there, of course. It is a very cosmopolitan city yet distinctly Indian. It has a spirit that no other city has (except perhaps Mumbai, now, after the terrorist attacks).

In an endlessly fascinating country like India, Calcutta is its most fascinating city. I always break down in tears the first day I am back in Calcutta, and leave more deeply in love with it.