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In the lap of superstition

In the lap of superstition

Postby manikjethu on Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:52 am

DEVI was a film the devout and the conservative in the 1960s did not take kindly to. But as a conservative of the present time, I find the film an accurate depiction of social reality in the begining of the century that went by.
A landlord (Kalikinkor)'s devotion for the Mother Goddess and his affection for his daughter-in-law (Doyamoyee) is one day combined in his dreams (in which the images of the two are juxtaposed) and he is convinced that the daughter-in-law is an incarnation of the Mother Goddess. The lady is publicly pronounced as such when a beggar boy (on whom the doctors had given up) is completely cured after being placed on her lap. Her husband (Umaprosad)'s attempt to flee with her to the city is foiled by her own fears and insecurities. Things come to a sad end when her so-called divine powers fail to cure her nephew (her elder brother-in-law's son who she was particularly attached to) and the boy dies. Her husband, a rationalist deeply infuenced by Brahmo thought, accuses his father of murdering the boy. Doyamoyee loses sanity.
The story, penned by Probhat Kumar Mukhopadhyaya, is originally said to have been plotted by Rabindranath Tagore.
Brahmo rationalism is upheld by Umaprosad, who not only regards his father's religious orthodoxy an outcome of the pre-modern system of education, but is also prepared to help out a friend wed a widow (considered sacrilege in the Hindoo society of those times). In the course of a heated exchange with his father after the latter declares Doyamoyee the Godess incarnate, Umaprosad accuses him of having taken leave of his senses.
The conflict of tradition and modernity has been very ably depicted in this film by the Master. It is wrong to say that Hindoo religion was given a bad name in DEVI . If there was a villain in this film, it was the superstition that pervaded Hindoo society in Bengal at the turn of the last century. A must-see.
manikjethu
 
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