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Ultimate Bollywood » Bollywood Features » 2011
Iti Mrinalini (Yours Mrinalini) - Warm Story, Creatively Portrayed
Iti Mrinalini (Yours Mrinalini) showcased at the 2011 NYIFF, here's our review of the film.

Iti Mrinalini (Yours Mrinalini) - Warm Story, Creatively Portrayed

Mrinalini, an aging Bengali actress is in the process of writing her last note. As a performer, timing has always been important to her: when to enter the stage and when to exit. She couldn't do much about it when she entered this world, but she is determined to leave at her time of choosing.

Aparna Sen directs the film and plays Mrinalini and her daughter in real life, Konkona Sen Sharma plays the younger actress. Straightaway we know of the two who is the better performer and Aparna says so indulging: "I am happy Konkona and I are not in the same frame. Imagine that, she will steal the scene in no time!" Strong compliment coming from the mother and director. In yet another quote, Aparna (known as "Rinadi" a pet name in Bengali circles) indulges of her Konkona: "there is no evidence of preparation when she works. She's never fake."

Aparna says, "the film's accent is the randomness of life" evidences of which are seen all through the movie. "All my films feature loneliness and separation and I am comfortable with that" adds the debut director of 36, Chowringhee Lane, made in 1981 that fetched her national and international plaudits.

Shot on 38 locations in 30 days, the movie is culture-specific and Bengali-specific, and runs for about two hours and will be seen in Bengali and Hindi.

Before taking her pills to end her life, Mrinalini decides to destroy her memorabilia letters photos, newspaper clips lest they fall in the wrong hands, the media perhaps. She does not want media attention any more. She has had enough.

While reviewing her past attainments in a bright greenish-brown sari memories haunt and she reflects back on her life of friendships and betrayals, of agonies endured and awards relished, of failures and ecstasies.

Nothing is under our control and at times, we should just let go, without hesitation is one of the themes. The film explores different forms of love? one that happens in early youth, one that's more domestic, one that falls somewhere between friendship and love, and the one resulting out of loneliness and seclusion.

Debutant screenwriter Ranjan Ghosh has worked the subject with passion, and after a particularly depressing break-up for the younger Mrinalini , Chintan Nair (played by Koushik Sen, known in Bengali screen and stage) declares, "A love that frees you is a love that has no expectations."

Definitely out of the mainstream in terms of execution of story and performance, the casting is appropriate. Perhaps connoisseurs and purists of Bengali cinema may not agree. While love is universal societal conflicts abound in any culture and time, more so now, and it is not surprising to hear Chintan Nair inquire of a despondent heroine, "Why do you think all love should end in marriage?"

Supporting cast includes Rajat Kapoor (Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding), Priyanshu Chatterjee (known for his 2001 debut film Tum Bin), German actress, Suzanne Bernert and all these actors have come together in this film for the first time except the mother-daughter duo, Aparna and Konkona.

Flashbacks tend to confuse a bit at times since Mrinalini is all over (old and young), and with the grand parade of exquisite saris on display one is overwhelmed by the array of characters who walk into frames effortlessly. And, concentrated effort is needed by the viewer to understand some of the sequences.

Mrinalini continues to relive her past, as night gradually turns to dawn. Moti, her German shepherd wants to get out for a break and while one is wondering about the suicide note, it happens. Wait for the last scene.

Thanks to the magic of sub-titles I followed the Bengali film, and it was time well-spent.

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