Chigusa Takaku, Moushumi Chatterjee, Rahul Bose, Raima Sen, Rudranil Ghosh
The Japanese Wife Movie Review
April 10, 2010 11:16:23 AM IST By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Trade News Network
THE JAPANESE WIFE
In a film like THE JAPANESE WIFE, you know that it would follow a realistic route with some strong performances. However, what you also know for sure is that there won't be much to look forward to as far as entertainment value is concerned. Also, the pace of the narrative would be slow, the background depressing and a route which would be realistic rather than optimistic or escapist.
This is exactly what one gets to watch in this two hour tale by Aparna Sen. However, the fact also remains that you look for some fresh air once the curtains come down. Really, it is one thing to have realism being depicted on screen and another to make the proceedings on screens so dark and gloomy that you only end up hunting for some respite.
For a young introvert village riverside school teacher (Rahul Bose), his only companion is a young pen-pal (Chigusa Takaku) from far away Japan who has similar personality and almost equivalent socio-economic background. As their letters become a one-a-day affair, they also end up becoming soul mates and get into a long distance marriage relationships. Poverty and family dependencies mean that even a phone call is a distant dream and the only mode of communication remains good old hand written letters.
15 years pass by and though they have barely spoken to each other only twice or thrice, the bond only becomes stronger. Rahul isn't even open to the idea of getting married to a Bengali girl and when a young widow (Raima Sen) starts living in his house, he maintains his distance. Meanwhile his overseas wife starts suffering from a terminal disease and he goes all out, given his circumstances and economic condition, to save her life.
A premise like this doesn't quite promise much entertainment in the offing. However, for a regular moviegoer, the least which is expected is a dramatic enhancement to the narrative to keep his attention on screen for those 2 hours. However, the film doesn't keep the same momentum from start to finish and also turns overtly depressing towards the latter part that keeps you longing for that sunshine. Nothing wrong with the subject or the treatment here; after all this is how Aparna Sen wanted to bring fore the tale of her protagonists.
However, the question that arises is - 'How many people out there actually wish to watch such a tale on the big screen?' Let's not just blame the audience here because at the end of the day, especially in today's time, movie watching (for most) is meant for an entertaining experience and unfortunately, but truly, THE JAPANESE WIFE doesn't provide any.
Thankfully, if one leaves the entertainment quotient of the film aside, what one carries home is Rahul Bose. He is excellent as a character which doesn't have any qualms admitting his struggle with the English language. Chigusa is decent though she doesn't get much scope to perform since the film is primarily told from Rahul's point of view. Raima is okay as a silent suffering widow whose heart pines for Rahul. Comparitively Moushmi Chatterjee, as Bose's aunt, brings light on screen every time she appears. As a forward thinking woman who encourages child education, widow remarriage and long distance marital relationship, she makes one wonder why is she is not seen on the big screen more often.
Regarding those who wish to watch a film from the artistic standpoint, then well, the sad truth is that number of such people is abysmally low. So another question is - 'Why to make a film which has extremely limited audience? Is it only to satisfy the artistic urge in you as a film maker? In that case, why not have a direct to DVD release because theatrically (especially with the kind of marketing effort that has gone into the film) THE JAPANESE WIFE doesn't come with any scope whatsoever.