Kolkata,By Priyanka Guha: The City of Joy witnessed the coming-together of three great actors when Aparna Sen, Shabana Azmi and Lilette Dubey came down to read from and discuss the text of Aparna Sen’s upcoming independent English film Sonata.
The evening, ‘Text to Context’ In SONATA – An Aparna Sen Film was held at Tollygunge Club and saw the cast of the film in conversation with Nandita Palchoudhari. The film releases on April 21.
The event which saw over 500-people in attendance saw the trio read from the script of the film and go on to discuss Mahesh Elkunchwar’s text from which it has been adapted. They also went on to speak about a range of issues from milieu, gender identity, dissent, the feminine, relationships to casting and execution of the film among others topics.
Speaking about the film, Aparna Sen said, “The film celebrates the friendship between three women. It is a psychological exploration of three unmarried women facing a mid-life crisis namely Aruna Chaturvedi (Professor), played by me, Dolon Sen (Banker) played by Shabana and Subhadra Parekh (journalist) played by Lilette Dubey. The friendship is universal but the setting in the movie is an urban construct. What the play says is relevant even today when it is being turned into a film, seventeen years after it was written. I have added some things, changed the ending a little and added a couple of characters to contemporise it more.”
Answering to a question whether the gender roles and chemistry would have been different if it were a film about three men or if there was a man in the mix, Shabana Azmi went on to add, “If there was one man in the mix I think the relationship would have changed. Men are perfectly capable of having wonderful friendships. But I think the lens through which we see is very important because there is something between three women which binds them together not necessarily because of gender, but it is a factor. What is interesting in the film is that it is not only about friendship but family, which is changing in India. The conventional gender roles are being redefined. That is the beauty of Sonata”
Speaking about the changing position of women in society where they are becoming each other’s lifeline increasingly in modern times as shown in the film, Lilette Dubey went on to add, “It is not today, women have been each other’s support system from time immemorial. The concept of zananas and joint families prove that it was always there. They shared everything with each other and with women from their own family and vicinity. Relationships with their husbands were always so formal, fifty years or 100 years ago. The sisterhood was even stronger then.”
The evening also saw the actors talk about the importance of dissent in democracy, freedom of expression and the current generation of actors and their works among other topics.
The story unfolds one evening in Aruna Chaturvedi and Dolon Sen’s posh apartment in an up-market Mumbai suburb. Although temperamentally very different, the two women have lived together for many years and made a comfortable albeit unexciting life for themselves. Aurna, a professor of Indology and Sanskrit, is highly educated, and has traveled to several international seminars and conferences. She is still rather beautiful, but her reserved personality and conservative thinking can make her come off as a prude. Though deeply affectionate she struggles to give expression to her feelings. Quite to the contrary, Dolon, who is a highly-paid banker, is bubbly, affectionate, and expressive. She tends to be plump and has been trying to lose weight with little success. Dolon displays her affection by touching, hugging and kissing her friends. Their other friend Subhadra Parekh, is a journalist. She believes in living life to the fullest and is almost ageless, or pretends to be. She wears jazzy clothes, showing off her figure, and lives with her boyfriend with whom she has a stormy and abusive relationship. She seems to be living the high life, but when asked if she is happy, Subhadra is at a loss for answers. The film explores the complex interaction between three very different women whose lives are intertwined by the bonds of friendship.
A HK studio Film.
Written & Directed by: Aparna Sen
Produced by: Dipankar Jojo Chaki, Vinod Lahoti, Anjan Ghoshal And Aloke Vohra
Main cast: Aparna Sen, Shabana Azmi and Lilette Dubey
Language: English / Drama
Duration: 103 Minutes
Music by: Neel Dutt