Pagla Ghoda, a film by Bikas Mishra, is the CinePlay adaptation of late playwright Badal Sircar’ famous iconic Bengali play. The media chosen to bridge the gap between the film and the audience is that of digital media i.e. on streaming platform Hotstar, owned by Star Network. It got released on HotStar on 30th May, 2017. CinePlay is the venture of Nandita Das and husband Subodh Maskara. Its mission is to bring timeless stories from theater to cinematic platform. Bikas Mishra’s much critically acclaimed film ‘Chauranga’ and short film ‘Dance of Ganesh’ were able to garner lot of appreciation and awards in Indian and International film festivals. Now, in a very unique manner, he has adapted Badal Sircar’s Bengali play into a web film Pagla Ghoda. I haven’t watched the play, so can’t really compare this film with the play, but reports say that the film stays true to the essence of the original in spite of the duration of the film being much less in comparison to the play.
The very premise of the film is relevant in the contemporary period too. Especially in our country, where patriarchy exists since ages and is so much blended with the socio-political system, it becomes very intriguing to look at patriarchy and its impact on both the genders. In the pretext of patriarchy, the film also talks about how we human beings justify our own actions. The male fraternity of our society are so much conditioned and trapped in this patriarchal system, if not apparently, atleast subconsciously they end up dominating their women’s world. Men feel that they can decide the destiny of the women whom they love. But in the process, men end up ignoring the very existence of women, their desires / will and chart out the course of the women’s destiny, at times do emotional manipulations too. Later men justify their actions with reasons and logic. Although apparently they move ahead in life by ignoring or brushing away the discomfort / guilt due to the past, hide their sense of loss, and start living a fake non-authentic life, where they don’t have the courage to come face-to-face with themselves. They adopt various defense mechanisms viz. diffusing things into laughter, imprisoning self in the past, leading a gloomy life, or putting up a bold front behaving as if nothing happened. All these could happen with females as well, but here males are specifically mentioned since the context of the film is the impact of patriarchy.
The film begins with the pyre and its slow burning sound. It feels strange to see four men getting drunk, playing cards over the cremation of the dead body of an unknown young girl. Initially, it is all superficial communication. They behave as if everything in their lives is fine and they don’t have any regrets. Himadri (Anshuman Jha), Karthik (Ravi Khaanwilkar), Satu (Gopal), and Shashi (Vikram Kochhar) are the four men who are waiting for the dead body of the girl to completely burn off. All four are from different walks of life – School Master Himadri, Compounder Karthik, Postmaster Shashi and Contractor Satu. They are just the representatives of the patriarchal system existing in our society. Initially, the conversation revolves around trivial matters in a very shallow manner, pulling one another’s leg. While they try to assume what could be the dead girl’s story, they look within themselves too and Chitrangada plays a major role here (I choose not to reveal here, how Chitrangada propagates the story ahead by being integral part of the screenplay). The characters’ restlessness is clearly evident while facing the truth about self as well as the follies happened. These four different tales which emerges are very thought provoking. We might lie to the whole world, but we can’t lie to our own self, our conscience. At times, the love is forbidden, the love is rejected, one’s idealism / principles become a barrier to enjoy love and at times negative emotions viz. ego, anger kills relationships – all these form integral part of the film. Various philosophies of life are subtly discussed viz. the depth of life and love, the need to be in love, different parameters to judge similar action by men and women, rationalizing the decisions and colouring the same as sacrifice etc.
One of the best part of the film is how powerful some characters are in spite of their physical absence in the film. Most of the film is shot in that single location near the pyre, but the impact of storytelling is very strong.
As far as the casting is concerned, cast is so much appropriate to the film. Chitrangada is certainly able to give a very much noticeable performance. Anshuman leaves a huge impact through his reticent performance. Gopal is too good as Satu, who just diffuses everything in laughter but carries a huge burden within him. Ravi Khaanwilkar and Vikram Kochhar have delivered very mature performances. In a nutshell, it is a delight to watch these actors’ effortless performances.
Pagla Ghoda is about eccentricities of the human mind; the journey of men as well as women becoming victims of the patriarchal system; their Self-Actualization, where one finally throws away the mask, becomes authentic to one’s own self.
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Cast and Crew Details: Source – Facebook Account of Bikas Mishra
Cast: Chitrangada Chakraborty (Malti aka Mili aka Lashmi), Ravi Khaanwilkar (Karthik), Gopal Singh (Satu), Vikram Kochhar (Shashi), Anshuman Jha (Himadri)
Adapted for the screen and Directed by: Bikas Mishra
Based on : Badal Sarkar’s play (Also known as Badal Sircar)
Produced by: Subodh Maskara and Nandita Das, CinePlay
Associate Producer: Ritesh Menon
Music: Avinash Narayan
Edited by: Suraj Gunjal
Casting: Parag Mehta
Camera : Anil Pingua
Assistant Camera: Manoj Karmakar
Art: Vikram Singh
Costume: Maria Tharakan, Kirti Kolwankar
Location Sound: Zahir A Bandukwala
Sound Design: Sushant Amin
Sound Editor: Imran Shaikh
First Assistant Director: Kundan Singh
Direction Team: Tara Bhatnagar, Maitree Muzumdar, Hemant SOrot
Poster: Mitwa Abhay Vandana
Release Date: 30th May, 2017 on Hotstar
Duration: 1 hour 47 minutes