Directed by: #SayanBasuChowdhury
Soumya (Sarkar) and Riti (Bhattacharjee) have a problem; their father, or more accurately Soumya’s father and Riti’s step-father. He is a bitter and abusive alcoholic who likes to visit brothels when he’s not drinking his money away. After losing his first wife, Soumya’s mother, he remarried to a woman from a lower caste; someone he could bring in to the household to do the chores, to cook and to clean, to look after his son and bring him up. However, this new wife also brought with her Riti, her own daughter, who was then the target for the old man’s spite and hatred and abuse. He always said she had ‘bad blood’ and would try to keep her at arm’s length, if not out of sight, at all times. Soumya has always been protective of his step-sister and loathes his father’s treatment of her and her mother.
Soumya and Riti have another problem; they have each been the object of unwanted advances from other people. Soumya’s cousin/friend Archan fancies himself as a bit of a ladies’ man, and after being introduced to Riti on a very special beach walk and boat ride, won’t leave her alone until he gets some of what he wants. Riti, while at first flattered and swept away by Archan’s advances, soon comes to realise that he is not who she loves and has a hard time convincing him to back off. Soumya, on the other hand, has to deal with the young teenager he has been tutoring, who can’t concentrate on her assignments and who looks longingly into his eyes as she cosies up to him in private moments. He too, cannot return this affection, even though all the boys call her pretty and want to marry her, as he only has eyes for another.
Soumya and Riti also have another problem; they are in love – with each other. Yep, that’s right; despite being step-brother and step-sister for more than twenty years they still fancy the pants off one another and want to sing and dance in the rain like all the best couples do. It seems that circumstance has created a bond between them that no moral judgement can split asunder and which is going to lead them to face their own world together.
Even with the strangely odd subject matter, the story of Megh Bristir Molat is still rather well played. The two leads do a fine job of inhabiting their characters and you can feel their closeness to one another along with the inevitable strain that it causes. The story is told partially in flashback which allows some grounding for the set-up as well as exposing a series of events that inform on the present day scenario. It is a useful device which the director has used to flesh out his characters, without ever really taking us into the subtext that informs on their feelings for each other. The direction itself is assured and accomplished with well placed panning shots taking the viewer through the scenes, as well as some intense close-ups and striking establishing shots. The colour also pops from the costumes and sets and fills the frame with life and vibrancy as forbidden love blossoms in the hearts of the characters.
The film is somewhat let down by the overdubbing of the soundtrack, with dialogue often mismatched to actor’s mouths and terrible sound effects being heard well after the action on screen. The subtitling, too, can be a major distraction with bad translation, poor punctuation and grammar, and the unforgivable textspeak of using ‘U’ instead of ‘you’ in every sentence. The minor characters aren’t always done justice by the level of acting either.
With only one song, and no big dance numbers, Megh Bristir Molat feels like it’s trying to go for dramatic realism in its storytelling. However, with the overarching impression that what’s happening is all okay in the minds of the characters, and the minimal treatment of the father’s effect on the entirety of proceedings, there isn’t enough dramatic tension to justify the depths of the themes involved. The lightness of the film fails to reflect the darkness of the subject and in doing so muddies the waters of morality enough to make us question what it was the film-makers were really trying to say. It’s as though Sesame Street did an episode on incest, exploring the motivations and circumstances that could lead up to it, and this is what they came up with. All in all Megh Bristir Molat is too contradictory in its make-up to make an awful lot of sense and in the end is a very odd experience indeed.