(RATING: 4 out of 5)
I can recall only two Indian movies (both of them made in Hindi) which had linkages with Japan in their scripts; unfortunately, both these were ridiculous presentations. The only feature that salvaged both “Love in Tokyo” and “Aman” was the music and the songs composed by Shankar-Jaikishan. “The Japanese Wife”, a movie produced in 2010 and directed by Aparna Sen (available on DVD) is every bit different from the earlier referred two movies. It ranks as an outstandingly different and an excellently made film. Of course, one doesn’t expect anything ordinary from the director who has given masterpieces like “Mr and Mrs Iyer”!
“The Japanese Wife” is based on a short story by Kunal Basu, an engineer who now teaches management in Oxford. The story-line focuses on the building of a relationship between a Bengali commoner, Snehamoy who stays in a remote area in Sunderbans region of Bengal and a Japanese girl Miyage of very modest means. The relationship starts by the two being pen-friends who exchange letters in English, a language in which both of them are not very proficient. The two are unable to meet each other, but despite that the bonding develops so strongly that much to the discomfiture of Snehamoy’s aunt (played excellently by the Bollwood actress of yester years- Moushumi Chatterjee, despite her huge frame!), the couple decides to get married without their being in close physical proximity (nearly 5,000 kilometres from each other!!). The introduction of a young widow (a subdued, but effective portrayal by Raima Sen) in Snehamoy’s house adds a new dimension to the story.
Aparna Sen creates a poetic masterpiece out of this simple and implausible tale and does this without any huge dramatic interventions. Her visualization and creation of the characters is excellent; and supporting her in her efforts, Rahul Bose (whom she had cast earlier on in Mr and Mrs Iyer as well) gives a performance which is an award-winning one. The Japanese artiste who plays the role of Miyage has also done a commendable job. The story concludes when Miyage comes to Snehamoy’s village, but does the marriage get consummated? Watch the movie to find out!
But the movie is not without its pitfalls. To begin with, the story looks reasonably implausible. It also moves quite slowly at times and so a time when you are feeling sleepy may not be the appropriate time to see it. But despite these pitfalls, Aparna Sen’s deft touches and creation of the landscapes is par excellence. The scene involving the flight of the kites is an excellent example. And how she gets Raima to emote the feeling of affection wanting to find an expression, but is repressed by the demands of Indian widowhood, is superb. And the switch between Bengali (the language of the movie) and English in the dialogues happens smoothly.
And, when these days we are inundated by news reports and stories of marital transgressions, the sincerity and trust of the relationship between Snehamoy and Miyage (implausible in today’s context?) stands out as a refreshingly different example to the not so happily married couples. But a cynic may add that in the story such a thing was possible, because Miyage and Snehamoy stayed 5,000 kilometres away from each other!

About The eternally happy Vijay

A cheerful person who loves watching and reviewing movies and indulges in random writings!
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  1. nisha krishnan says:

    Have read the book!looks like the movie too evokes a similar sense of feeling.

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