Review: ‘Yours, Srikanta’

"Yours, Srikanta" tries to squeeze so many episodes from the classic novel by famous Bengali writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay onto the screen that helmer Anjan Das loses the connecting rhythm. Surprisingly erotic scenes caused some commotion in censor-heavy India where reception was decidedly lukewarm.

Both an indictment of fundamentalism’s rigidity and a critique of the commodification of women in the early 20th century, “Yours, Srikanta” tries to squeeze so many episodes from the classic novel by famous Bengali writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who also penned “Devdas,” onto the screen that helmer Anjan Das loses the connecting rhythm. Pic’s self-consciously poetic script weighs heavily on the metaphorical tale of modern man’s pursuit of inner peace, acting like a wet blanket thrown over Sirsha Roy’s luscious scope lensing. Surprisingly erotic scenes caused some commotion in censor-heavy India where reception was decidedly lukewarm.

Srikanta (Adil), deep in the throes of an all-consuming wanderlust, journeys through a fantastic woods straight out of a Maeterlinck story, where he meets the ethereal Kamallata (Soha Ali Khan). Speaking as if she’s been waiting for him all her life, she takes him to her secluded ashram. Inner tranquility is only temporary, however, and his deep-seated need for freedom sets him off again and into the arms of childhood sweetheart Rajalakshmi (Reema Sen). Representing physical rather than spiritual devotion, she’s a wealthy courtesan whose possessive love stifles Srikanta and sends him searching for existential tranquility. Elegant camera work can’t compensate for overlong narration.

Yours, Srikanta

India

Production

A Beyond Reels Endeavor production. (International sales: Beyond Reels, Kolkata.) Produced by Deepak Bajaj. Executive producer, Shantasree Sarkar. Directed by Anjan Das. Screenplay, Rajarshi Roy, Shantasree Sarkar, based on the novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

Crew

Camera (color, Cinemascope), Sirsha Roy; editor, Sanjeeb Dutta; music, Bikram Ghosh; production designer, Samir Chanda; costume designer, Shantasree Sarkar. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Time & Tide), Feb. 1, 2005. Bengali dialogue. Running time: 126 MIN.

With

Adil [cq], Soha Ali Khan, Reema Sen, Nirmal Kumar, Piyush Ganguly, Debesh Mukherjee.
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