18 August 2005

Parineeta Pandey: Mythical period marriages

My Independence Day weekend was spent watching "Parineeta" while crowds outside the multiplex rushed to watch "The Rising" a.k.a. Mangal Pandey. There is a common thread between the two period movies. Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta (who blogs as well) in a recent piece in the Hindu compared Parineeta with its original by Sarat Chandra, bringing in relevant points to show that the 1960s adaptation by Vindo Chopra of the story originally set in 1914 was a travesty of the times it was portraying.
But I liked the movie much as I agreed with the author.
In the post-Devadas period chic, the beauty of the sets and the heroines, and an opulent romance, are what drive movie goers, not the genteel sensitivities and social motifs of ye olde classics. Cinema verite? Forget it, dahlings!
Like in Parineeta, Mangal Pandey is also cast in a dubious mould.
If romance is the leitmotif of new-age literature re-makes, pop patriotism replaces authentic history in political movies. One blogger, in dense academese, makes some fine points on 1857 (http://ssaklani.blogspot.com) effectively to suggest that there is a whole load of myths about the man who staged the first war of Indian independence and the movement itself...Rudrangshu Mukherjee's book on the first freedom fighter, coinciding with the movie, also provides a reality check to the movie.
In the world of feelgood period movies, there is little those with an appetite for facts can really do. How about petitioning the directors to show a disclaimer? : "Any resemblence to real history is purely coincidental"!
And so, I await a new period movie in which Mangal Pandey travels in a time machine and woos Parineeta with a guitar, which must be made of oak to show the period authenticity.
Welcome to surreality chic!

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