Jhumura is an emotional film, a bit on the slow side, but still engaging. So, for a change, go and watch something that is miles away from mindless violence and item numbers and indulge your finer senses.
Rwik (Samadarshi) and Sahana (Sohini), two young journalists from Kolkata, visit Purulia to dig up interesting information on the dying folk art form, jhumur. There, they meet an elderly couple (Kuchil Mukherjee and Gopa Sengupta), who tell them the musical love story of Kanchan and Kusum and of Jhumura, a tribal village.
is poetry in motion. And the credit for that largely goes to the slow (a bit too slow at times) yet smooth storyline penned by the director himself and the excellent cinematography by Mrinmoy Nandi. From connecting the dots using a mute mask-seller to portraying the haplessness of Kanchan's first wife (Tania) with a dry leaf pushed around by a breeze, the film surely stands out for the simple magnificence of each frame and the thoughts that went into creating such a visual tapestry.
Add to this visual flow the fluidity of music — rustic and mellow — and
becomes a journey for the senses. You rise and fall with the hills and streams, the dawns and dusks, of Purulia, and feel your heart soar or sink with the soulful jhumur tunes. Moreover, the battle of the art form with modern entertainment alternatives over the decades has been portrayed with clarity.
But everyone seems so busy creating technical magic that no one seems to notice the flaws in the storyline. Yes, the flow is smooth, free of jumps or hiccups, but it leaves out vital pieces that precipitate confusing thoughts once you walk out of the theatre. Inside, you are too overwhelmed by the visual treat to think, but no such bindings exist outside. For one, the relationship between Sahana and Rwik is a confusing afterthought. The film fails to establish their growing fondness for each other. It hits you suddenly at one scene or two. Moreover, the story loses track of the demands of journalistic research. After all, no hard story can be written based on a love story of lore; journalists need facts and photographs. The two young journalists seem to lose track of that basic requirement as the film progresses.
Then again, it's the confusing timeframes. If the tale of Kanchan and Kusum is part of history (as made apparent by the barren hill on which once stood Kusum's village, Jhumura), then why hasn't the mask-seller aged? Even if we assume him to be a symbolic yet mute sutradhar, how can a thriving village disappear in just a few decades and why? We are basing these questions on the last chronological reference point in the Kusum-Kanchan tale — the screening of the Hindi film
Amar Akbar Anthony
. Assuming that the film reached the remote village, say, six months after its release, we can peg the timeframe around mid or late 1977. So, in the intervening 38 years, Jhumura is wiped out from the face of the earth, but the mask-seller refuses to age?
Moreover, the fate of Kusum and Kanchan is never revealed. If they are still alive, they would be in their sixties or seventies. So, do the storytellers (Kuchil and Gopa) relive their own tale of love? That, Mr Director, is too complex a riddle. You shouldn't have left it to the audience to figure out such a vital bit of the storyline. Jhumura is not exactly a Byomkesh tale, is it? So, despite creating such an audio-visual treat, we can't afford even a star more than two and a half. A little more attention to detail would have surely earned you at least a star more.
Now, coming to the acting department, we must say that the technical excellence of the film does create an additional burden on the actors to keep their performances on a par. Sohini is quite convincing, both as city girl Sahana and village beauty Kusum, and Samardashi nails it as photojournalist Rwik and village lad Kanchan. But, somehow, the two should have worked a bit more on their on-screen chemistry. Their constant arguments towards the beginning of the film seem almost forced at times. And though all other actors have done complete justice to their roles, just one star for acting.
Over all, Jhumura is an emotional film, a bit on the slow side, but still engaging. So, for a change, go and watch something that is miles away from mindless violence and item numbers and indulge your finer senses. You won't regret it.