Vol. 5 Num 152 Sun. October 24, 2004  

Film review
Bhalo Theko: A film symbolising nature, tradition and love

Bhalo Theko (Forever Yours) was recently screened at a high-profile film-festival in Bangkok. The Bangla film directed and scripted by Gautam Halder from India provides a backdrop for the eternal conflict between individuals. Anandi, as her name suggests, comes forward with blessings of joy for the people who tend to jump on the career bandwagon. She symbolises the negation of careerism and stands for happiness.

The presence of Anandi, played by South Indian actress Vidya Palan, fertilises the ambience of the film that unfolds. The film is the celebration of fertility symbolised by green trees, driving rains and dark plumes of cloud and Anandi herself. A rain-soaked Anandi in the idyllic village on the bank of ever-flowing Hooghly reminds viewers of the ancient forest that all but disappeared from the surface of the earth. The film is set in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose's home in Falta, masquerading as Uttarpara.

Nature, tradition and love are Anandi's only pillars of support after the burden of her family is thrust on her.

For Anandi, happiness means freedom from within and without alike. Freedom means a commitment to live in the fashion one wants to--breaking from the bondage--materialistic and nonmaterialistic. Freedom means being one with the nature, as free are the skies, plants and birds--all appearing on and off in fragmented images in the film that figured on the list of 71 at the festival at EGV Metropolis in Bangkok.

Anandi is forgetful of her sorrows that she was deceived by Babua she loved most. Babua, who symbolises the craze for migration to foreign countries, comes back from abroad only to say: 'Anandi, I came back to set you free.'

Film critics described Anandi as a large canvas painted in several hues. She stands against rootless internalisation and perplexed culture. The plot is based on Leena Gangopadhaya's story Janmadin. Soumitra Chatterjee plays Anandi's uncle as the guiding force in the film, while Joy Sengupta appears as Anandi's lover Babua.

Bhalo Theko is Gautam's debut feature film. His first docu-feature A Story of Integration earned him the National Award in 1993. His second film Strings of Freedom on Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was highly appreciated at international film festivals. Gautam, himself a singer, is now working on another documentary on Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty.

Vidya Palan as Anandi in Bhalo Theko