The Window -- Film Review
EmptyBottom Line: A slight but affecting tale of missed connections in India.
TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Director Buddhadeb Dasgupta is not well known in this country, but his films have been popular in India, where he is also a celebrated poet and professor of economics (not the most common combination). His haunting new movie "The Window" is a bit rough around the edges, but it has appealing characters and a likable spirit. It should do well on the festival circuit.
The film's main characters are a couple navigating a long-distance relationship. When Meera (Swastika Mukkherjee) gets pregnant, Bimal (Indranil Sengupta) decides that they should get married, but their jobs may keep them living in separate cities. Bimal works in a retirement home, while Meera has to handle testy customers at an airline call center. On one of his journeys to see Meera, Bimal stops in the village where he grew up and visits his old school, which has fallen into disrepair. He becomes obsessed with buying a new, handcrafted window for the school -- a small gesture that takes on increasingly large symbolic significance. As he says, "Don't we all love our old schools?" Of course he runs into all kinds of mishaps in trying to transport the window to its destination.
Dasgupta makes some strange choices throughout the film. He interrupts the narrative with lengthy, distended flashbacks to Bimal's childhood. There are odd comic characters like a thief who keeps turning up to disrupt Bimal's plans. At moments the central romantic relationship gets lost in all the asides. Yet the main characters are so sympathetic that we always remain invested in their love story and in Bimal's quest to make a small difference in the world he knows. His confrontation with the bureaucrats in his home town, who have trouble accepting Bimal's generosity, is an archetypal story of the well-meaning individual fighting a recalcitrant society, a conflict that has been played out all over the world.
The director makes the most of the settings. There are lovely images of the Indian countryside, and there are also plenty of gently humorous touches. Performances by the main players are just right. The film ends on an ironic note that isn't fully satisfying. We're hoping for at least a minor triumph for Bimal, but the director denies him, and the audience, the satisfaction we crave.
Venue: Telluride Film Festival
Cast: Indranil Sengupta, Swastika Mukkherjee, Tapas Paul, Shankar Chakraborty, Sahana Sen
Director-screenwriter-producer: Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Director of photography: Sunny Joseph
Production designer: Subroto Chakraborty
Music: Biswadeb Dasgupta
Editor: Amitava Dasgupta
No MPAA rating, 105 minutes