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aka What the Sea Said 1995 135’ col Bengali d/s Aparna Sen pc NFDC c A. Shashikant, Dilip Verma m Jyotishka Dasgupta lp Anjan Dutta, Rupa Ganguly, Pallavi Chatterjee, Kunal Mitra

Mapping political and environmental concerns upon a domestic melodrama, Sen’s most recent film occasionally borders on the surreal. An estranged couple, advertising executive Deepak (Dutta) and classical dancer Anusuya (Ganguly), return to a fishing village where they had spent their honeymoon. Their past life is told through a series of flashbacks, while the sea, polluted by rampant consumerism, appears to symbolise their present condition. A flashback reveals that Anusuya had fought a major industrial house on behalf of environmental activists, but later capitulated when that institution funded her dance school. ‘Global’ issues such as the gulf war and the rise of market capitalism are presented as impacting local and even personal problems. This relationship is graphically realised in the film’s end when a blazing sea, into which Deepak disappears, is connected to the gulf war oil slick. The apocalyptic end had been foretold by an old fisherman earlier in the story. Among those who publicly praised the film included major Bengali poet Shankho Ghosh, who commended its poetic sensibility, and novelist Debesh Roy who noted its independence from storytelling and Satyajit Ray-school filmmaking.