"The Japanese Wife"-Some thoughts
I saw this sublime movie after ages and I couldn’t not write about it. I had read the story by Kunal Basu and had been touched. The movie brought an entirely new dimension to the story I must say. I had a few issues with the timeline and some extra elements thrown in here and there, but other than that the treatment was breathtaking. The cinematography probably is the first thing that jumps to the mind; I had thought of the story in a slightly darker shade when I was reading the book as is my wont. But the movie is brilliant in its pictures, poetry on motion film I would say. The character sketch of Snehamoy, Miyage and Sandhya were done with restraint and remarkable finesse. Rahul Bose especially did a fine job of shedding his persona and becoming the slightly obtuse and introverted Snehamoy. Chigusa Takaku, the lady playing Miyage(meaning gift in Japanese) was the very personification of innocent feminity and fleshed out an improbable character like Miyage very well. Now most of the people I talked with (including family members) did not understand why I cried while watching this movie, and I could not understand how the poignancy of the movie could have failed to touch their hearts. Obviously to some the story seemed ‘improbable’, and I completely understand their view-point. But the fact is that in this age of fast changing relationship statuses and materialistic needs, this movie brought a much needed fragrance of old world charm. Though the L-word was not mentioned even once in the movie, the love that the two principal characters shared was evident…you don’t need to demonstrate love to feel it, you don’t need to even want it in return…Things that I have felt for long. Not that love is not entirely giving and free of possessiveness, as brought out by Miyage’s letter to Snehamoy where she tells him that she understands he has physical needs and would not stop him from satisfying them, BUT she would not take him back either. I don’t know why, but that kind of reinforced the fact that the marriage between these two was very real. Also, the parallel plot of the widowed Sandhya and her son, Paltu brought into relief the very worldly affairs that Snehamoy had sacrificed without a second thought for his marriage. People want to procreate, that’s how God has made them and it is a natural need of men and women to leave behind progeny. Not that Snehamoy was the only one; Miyage sent him kites on their 15th Wedding Anniversary, saying that if they had a kid he would have learnt to fly kites by now. So a certain amount of thought HAD gone into the issue by the characters. Their devotion was what touched me; the ‘forever type’ where one waits for the other no matter what. I remember this particular scene where Snhemoy gets down from a boat escorting Sandhya from a shopping trpi across the river, he being his kind and attentive self, but the moment Paltu runs upto him and tells him ‘Japani Kaki-r Chiti eseche’ (Japani Aunt’s Letter has arrived), the way Snehamoy’s face lights up and he grabs the letter leaving behind Sandhya tiptoeing over the hard stones without a second glance…if someone holds your heart, there is no place for anyone else even on the distant horizon. Not that it is only about waiting and not living their lives, both did that. That seems a bit improbable to me even, but then I am the ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ kind of person. Coming back to the topic of devotion, the way Snehamoy took a leave from his teaching job to visit different types of doctors to find a cure for Miyage’s cancer and the very fact that he caught an illness from getting drenched in the rain and ultimately dying of it is so other-worldy…so much sacrifice? The last scene where his body was floating away on the boat in sepia as he had promised Miyage he would come to her in death, superimposing the image of Miyage looking at the items she had gifted him—basically seeing herself everywhere in his room—is sublime. The scene where Miyage comes at last crossing the Matla with people staring mouth agape at her, with her white sari and shaved head was heartrending. A case of too little, too late. The imagery I have already talked about, but the metaphors were awesome too. There was this scene where Snehamoy is ill and dying, the windows are shaking and it looks like his very soul is rattling the windows to be free from this world…the light in the lamp is growing dimmer with the rush of the wind..and I could almost feel the life ebbing away. Not that it was easy for the character, he imagined Sandhya’s hand to be Miyage’s on his forehead..talk about the ironies of life. Also where the Japanese fighter kite blows away in the wind, it kind of symbolized the moment of weakening in Snehamoy’s character—as if a part of his resolved was slowly but surely floating away. On a happier note, the accents of both Snehamoy and Miyage were delightful, especially where Miyage calls him “Senomoy” in her lilting Japanese accent. It is a movie full of yearning and yet filled with a quiet determination and hope. Personally speaking, it brought to end a chapter in my life and gave me a minuscule amount of peace.
“Tired of being a strange misfit in this stranger world,
I don’t want to be the puzzle in the piece which doesn’t belong.
I want a piece of this blue sky all for myself,
I want a bit of this cool rain to wash my thirsty soul.”
I now sit with my pen poised over the book of my life, ready to write the next chapters….