Monday, October 18, 2004


Hazaar Chaurasi ki Maa treads familiar territory (Ek Din Achanak) with its premise: the departure of a close family member triggers an evaluation of self, relationships and society. Govind Nihalani's adaptation of Mahasweta Devi's novel is a welcome reminder that he is still capable of good filmmaking (although this 1997 film was followed up by a spate of unsatisfactory mainstream-friendly works beginning with Thakshak and culminating in Dev). Jaya Bachchan made a second comeback and delivers a splendid interpretation of a mother who begins to come to terms with the loss of a son she thought she knew everything about. Joining the band of talent are Anupam Kher, debutantes Joy Sengupta and Nandita Das (although she gets an "introducing" credit here, I wonder if this was her first film), Seema Biswas, and other familiar faces like Milind Gunaji, Mona Ambegaonkar, and small-to-tiny turns from the likes of Bhatki Barve, Sadia Siddiqui, Lovleen Mishra (remember chuTakii from Hum Log?), Aditya Srivastava, Yashpal Sharma, and Rajesh Khera (the ill-fated smoker in Darna Mana Hai). Govind Nihalani even gets another shot at tackling the superficial gaseous vapidity of the upper class with the engagement party (see also: Party). There's a lot of dialogue in the film, as well as moments that benefit from their silence. At one point in the film, when Nandini (Nandita Das) tells Sujata (Jaya Bachchan) about the need for her to make the effort to understand her son, Jaya retorts "is rishte me.n bhii koshish, na.ndinii?". That is the essence of this tale.

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