[Full of Bengali pop-culture references. Caveat to the non-Bengalis]
Not that I support the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, but for the first few seconds of my Saturday morning, I wanted to become the Ayatollah. That is when I realized that they had re-made arguably Ray’s finest movie “Charulata” as “Charulata 2011” (reminiscent of Disco 82, Hope 86 and Mother 98) , a cross between the original and Jism, with gratuitous displays of Rituparna’s back, as bare as Bengal’s industrial development parks, and sexy displays of Arjun Chakraborty’s face, as poetic as a mis-shapen Nalengurer sandesh.
Wait, you say, how can you condemn “Charulata 2011” when all you have seen is the trailer and read some articles about it? Because the trailer says it all, from Mohit-Suri-Mahesh-Bhatt-inspired “erotic” visuals to Rituparna’s execrably-accented Bangla voiceover to a guitar-playing Bangali Ron Jeremy, this cries “desecration” in every frame, more so when one recalls the smoldering underplayed sensuality of the original.
Yes maybe Didi was right. Everything is a CPM conspiracy—-the rapes in moving cars, “Charulata 2011”, the genetic mutation called Jeet and songs with poetic Jeebu-Daish- lyrics like “Lady Killer, Romeo, Pakka Playboy, Romeo, Flirting Master Romeo….Sunday dilam Sheela-ke, Monday dilam Monake..” (I “did it” to Sheela on Monday, “did it” to Mona on Tuesday).
And now that the full scope of the CPM plot has been revealed, why stop with desecrating Charulata, oh Kolkata “intellectuals”? There are so many Ray movies that beg crying out for re-interpretation.
A Telugu-masala production, “Apu 2012” with Apu being an angry Bengali man (played by Deb) who, after having his elder sister raped, his father killed and his mother bored to death, beats up goons to the tune of “Challenge nibi na sala” and “Lal Juto Paaye Khokababu Jaaye”?
An adult version of “Parash Pathar” where a government clerk discovers a magic stone that gives him instant erections, which he then uses to get “a head” till it gets swallowed by his secretary?
A Rituporno-remake of Jalsaghar where the aged zamindar discovers his wife was having an affair with the thumri singer before he realizes he is actually transgendered himself?
A Q-directed re-telling of the Gupi-Bagha fable (G-AND-U) but with the happy duo transformed to gay rappers who pen vulgar post-modernist lyrics ?
Why not a Bratya Basu version of “Ganashatru” where a “socially aware” intellectual opposes a sinister CPM plot to build an automobile plant, the only deviation from the original being that it will have a happy ending wherein our hero becomes a minister?
How about “Abhijaan” becoming the story of a Formula 1 driver, Talladega Nights inspired?
What about Anjan Dutt—has he not seen the potential of remaking “Mahanagar” from the angle of the anglo-Indian salesgirl (who will renamed Maryanne Marie) and the allusion to the Wall Street crisis of 2008 in the bank failing (which leads the heroine to transform from housewife to working professional)?
How about Aparna Sen reinterpreting the “Ghare Baire” story as that of an idealistic Naxal-supporting husband who lets his wife (played by Paoli Dam) spread her….wings…with his “India shining” capitalist friend while communal riots, triggered by the Hindu right, sweep the country?
Why does not Gautam Ghosh join hands with Zoya Akthar and re-remake Abar Aranye, his sequel to “Aranyer Din Ratri”, but this time about three wannabes who journey deep into the jungle to discover their feminine sides while dancing to “Senorita” with a tribal lady, played by Simi Garewal Galadrial, the ageless Lady of the Forest?
Yes indeed. Why not? Now that we Bengalis have spent a generation strutting about, waving our glorious cultural heritage as proof-positive of our exalted status while producing little of value, it is now time to go and move on to the next phase. Where in the guise of creative re-interpretation, we pee on the greatness we have inherited.