Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kora Kagaz: Heartbreakingly Realistic

Another re-post in honor of 70s Week! Are you sensing a theme? And a note from future Filmi Girl - I wrote this a few years ago after a bad break-up. I'm not nearly as emo about things now!

If one could consider films to be opposites, then
Kora Kgaz is about as opposite a film to Talash as could possibly exist. Also, the screenwriters seem to have time-traveled to the future, observed the past years of my life, and then time traveled back to the past to put together an amazing film starring Goldie and Jaya Bhaduri. If I get too invested in the characters, please cut me some slack because the only thing missing from the film is the post-split year of dating a string of losers and socially awkward dorks. (Jaya manages to side step the set-up in the first 5 minutes of the film! How did she do that?!)

When we meet Jaya, she is teaching school. She's tired of life and yet she still desires things that life has to offer - namely children. There are some very touching scenes of Jaya interacting with these adorable kids. She would obviously love to be a mother. She's not tired of life - just tired of
her life. (Singing to the choir, sister!)

Jaya voice-overs us into a flashback. We see her and her family and she's young and happy but wanting to grow up. She's flattered by the advances of an older man - a professor, played by Mr. Goldie, himself.

(Here with Jaya's adorable sister, played by Nazneen.)

Jaya believes that the romance is enough to build a marriage on. Sadly, she misses the big sign that it's all going to head south: her parents don't like the guy. Sure, that's not always the case, but we see how close Jaya is with her family. Their ideals are her ideals and if the guy doesn't fit in - not matter how romantic things may be at first - it's just not going to work.

And it's very painful how things progress. Prof. Goldie is a big baby. He is used to being taken care of, like a child, and doesn't understand that being a husband comes with a set of responsibilities. Sure, your wife will take care of you to an extent, but YOU need to take care of HER as well.

Prof. Goldie allows a hole to build in their relationship just large enough for Jaya's Mummy-ji to fit in. Prof. Goldie feels put-upon and retreats further leaving Jaya to rely on her mother making Prof. Goldie feel MORE put-upon and so on and so forth.

The final straw comes when Jaya and her husband are supposed to attend Jaya's brother's birthday party. He stays out late ON PURPOSE and makes her wait - without calling or anything. Finally, she gives up and goes without him. When she returns, he is feeling sorry for what he did and tries to initiate a "romantic encounter." Jaya is having none of it because she is rightfully furious at his passive-agressive behavior.

They end up separating.

The highlight for me was seeing Jaya's brother - who was adorable and a protofeminist - rip into Prof. Goldie for sniffing around their house. He didn't miss Jaya until he didn't have anyone to sew the buttons on his clothes.

What could have been a tedious "art" film in the hands of anyone else, turns into a compelling slice-of-life drama with wonderful performances by Jaya and Goldie, who really has a thankless role as the man who doesn't know how to be a husband.

There are a few sour notes when the patriarch gives a speech about how marriage is forever and Jaya must have messed it up somehow, but on the whole, I was very impressed with the way the topic was handled - especially for 1974. Divorce isn't a common topic in cinema now, I imagine this must have been even more shocking then.

The ending must have been a concession to the censors because I read the ending as the couple stays separated but has some closure but it could easily be interpreted the other way as well. It's one of the
Great Expectations "And they never saw another parting" moments where you can take it as you want to.

Kora Kagaz makes me wish Jaya had waited a bit to get married so she could make more films. She was really magnificent in this. Plus, it was my second film of the day with Eternal Ma, Sulochana Latkar.

I've spared you in recounting the small comedy subplot. It was very cute, but Drona was a little too close to my last date to fully enjoy the role. *shudder*


Banno said...

I saw the Bengali version too, with Suchitra Sen, and that was in some ways more moving. Perhaps because it was b/w and also, Suchitra Sen is so, so beautiful. Have forgotten the name though.

Nadia_Rahman said...

Kora Kagaaz was a beautiful movie and one in a plethora of Jaya's performances. She was a fantastic actress. I would also recommend the following movies:
1) Abhimaan
2) Koshish
3) Uphaar
4) Mili
5) Annadaata (a small movie but still cute)
6) Piya ka Ghar

She is but a shell of her former bubby self now. It's painful to watch her.

The movie Banno is referring to is Saat Pake Badha and it stars Suchitra Sen. She won many awards for her role and I am dying to see that one!

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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