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Subhash Jha speaks about Yatra

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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Friday, May 04, 2007
This is the story of a creator's journey....it could be seen as metaphor of the fairly prolific director's own yatra across the oscillating oceans of the motion picture. And never mind the rough patches and the debilitating turbulence.

Ghose who spearheaded the avante-garde movement in the cinema of the 1970s, has never been too comfortable with making films in Hindi, though he did make a that masterpiece Paar describing an impoverished couple Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi's metaphorical journey across a river with a herd of pigs.

Piggish behaviour, we see in plenty in Ghose's new Hindi film. Some of it comes from the protagonist himself.

Dashrath Jogelkar (Patekar) is one of those bull-headed writers who sees himself as a harbinger of socio-cultural change even as his own domestic domain disintegrates in front of his cynical eyes.

Many of Dashrath's responses to the world around him are so naÏve in their apparentness you wonder if Gautam Ghose shares his protagonist's incredulity at the consumerist takeover of the middleclass or whether Ghose would like to keep himself distanced from Dashrath's obstinate disregard for a social structure outside the domain of his imagination.

The ceaseless debate between the creative forces and the brute force of the reality outside the imagination is not fully harnessed in Yatra. In spite of some lucid camerawork (Ghose himself) there's an unfinished though fascinating aura to this modern somewhat suspended rendering of the Devdas tale shifted to a domesticated domain and driven by a cultural diversity that often borders on chaos.

In one sequence we hear Nana listening to classical music, his son (Romit Raaj) playing the drums, the wife (Deepti Naval, a portrait of indignant docility) immersed in the kitchen sounds and the rain outside splashing in to the domestic din.

This is a quasi-gone-corny classic rendition of Gautam Ghose's treatise on cultural confoundedness as perceived through the eyes of a self-righteous creative artiste who thinks the world isn't good enough to accommodate his fertile faculties.

This intriguing jig-saw about the life of the imagination moves through two cities Hyderabad and Delhi. The characters appear to belong to a no-man's land and the train journey that Dashrath takes with a filmmaker -fan (Nakul Vaid, hardly there) seems more symptomatic of the writer's inner perplexities than a manifestation of the journey that takes man from his imagination to an indeterminate spiritual destination.

Expectedly Rekha provides the most inspiring moments, and not just for the besotted protagonist. Having played the doomed tawaif illimitable times Rekha can do the fallen women act by heart. And she does. There're some graphic scenes of sexual violence with an uncouth Hyderabadi zamindar, and a breakdown sequence at the end when Rekha pulls out all stops.

Here's an actress for whom less is definitely more. The rest of the cast including Nana, who has the author-'wracked' role, goes from profound emotion to keen disinterest.


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