wiki:Antarjali Jatra/Mahayatra

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Antarjali Jatra/Mahayatra?

aka The Voyage Beyond 1987 140’[B]/123’[H] col Bengali/Hindi? d/sc/c/m Gautam Ghose p Ravi Malik, Debashish Majumdar pc NFDC st Kamal Kumar Majumdar’s novel Antarjali Jatra (1960) lp Shatrughan Sinha, Promode Ganguly, Robi Ghosh, Mohan Agashe, Shampa Ghosh, Basanta Choudhury, Sajal Roy Choudhury, Kalyan Chatterjee

In 1829, in the context of various reform movements associated with Raja Rammohan Roy, sati (the widow immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre) was outlawed by the British. The film, based on the noted Bengali writer Kamal Kumar Majumdar’s best-known fiction, is set after that date and addresses the cruelty of a patriarchal practice which continues even today. The Brahmin Seetaram (Ganguly) is dying and an astrologer (Robi Ghosh) assures the dying man and his relatives of finding happiness after death on condition that his wife commits sati on his death. The villagers defy the law and persuade an impoverished Brahmin (Choudhury) to marry his daughter Yashobati (Shampa Ghosh) to the dying man so that she may commit Sati. The only dissident is Baiju (Sinha), a drunken Untouchable who tends to the cremation grounds. Baiju persuades Yashobati to flee. In the end, on a moonlit night, Baiju tries to kill old Seetaram. The superstitious Yashobati tries to prevent the deed and the two struggle on the muddy banks of the Ganges. The struggle changes into lovemaking but the river in spate eventually carries away both Seetaram and Yashobati. The film’s end sums up a major controversy surrounding Ghosh’s filming of a difficult text. Yashobati’s death, which in effect constitutes the act of sati, is shown as a combination of accident and desire, further contrasting her ‘holy’ condition with Baiju’s traditionless bestialism. Much of this is revealed in the original novel through broken syntax, interior monologue and a dense, graphic style of disjointed phrases, from which Ghosh assembled something like a coherent story. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1992) contrasts the book with the film, suggesting that Majumdar’s novel ‘takes as understood a fully formed ideological subject (and thus) a question that can only be asked by us, as Hindus, of ourselves. This text is exactly not for the outsider who wants to enter with nothing but general knowledge, to have her ignorance sanctioned’. The film, on the other hand, ‘shatters this project by staging the burning ghat as a realistic referent carrying a realistic amount of local colour, a stage for a broadly conceived psychodrama played out by easily grasped stock characters.’ She accuses the film of being ‘an abdication of the responsibility of the national artist, trafficking in national identity (in the name of woman) for international consumption’. Ghosh used another, and equally difficult, literary text for his next film Padma Nadir Majhi (1992), this time by Manik Bandyopadhyay.