Bengali feature film Icche (The Desire) is based on a novel by Suchitra Bhattacharya and directed by Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee and was released mid-2011.
Icche (The Desire) is essentially built around a distinct but sadly common relationship between an obsessive mother and her son set in a semi-urban Indian middle-class household in Kolkata (previously “Calcutta”). While setting the film in a Bengali household, the directors Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee certainly get to leverage from their own own growing-up experiences, the familiar surroundings of a typical middle-class Bengali household and some very common behavioural eccentricities. The story however is essentially universal and could just as easily have played out in any cultural setting that are driven by middle-class dreams & frustrations.
Mamata is an ambitious mother whose world begins and ends obsessing about the life and career of her son to the point of controlling it. She doesn’t want him to be laidback and ambitionless as her husband Manas, an easy laid-back personality satisfied with his job and the small successes that occasionally come his way. Mamata is sharp contrast harbouring many dreams for her only son Soumik. She obviously has an unstated disappointment about her husband’s career, one that Manas fully understands and learned to resign himself to. In this highly competitive world, she tries to make sure that her son stands out in every sphere and achieves the goals that she has chalked out for him.
But just as well – laid out plans begin to play out her way through her son’s early school career, things start to deviate from script when Soumik starts rebelling against this dominance.
Soumik has his first crush manifesting itself in unending streams of love-letters, long times spent together after school and a lack of interest in studies, which which recognising as a dangerous sign of distraction from her set goals, Mamata chooses to destroy first by creating an ambarrassment for her son in front of his school-mates and finally by stalking his girl-friend to her house and threatening her parents. This is where the relationship reaches a turning point in their relationship for which he never forgave her mother.
Yet life continues after Soumik accepts his mother’s demands with a condition that she would no longer interfere in his personal matters, harboring a distrust all the while. His paranoia reaches breaking point when he falls in love a second time at college but has convinced himself his mother would again find a way to harm this relationship.
The next twist in the story occurs when Mamata learns of this new relationship in her son’s life and once again allows her interfering nature takes over. She feels the new girl in her son’s life is not good enough for him, but she wants to retain her son’s affection and possibly make amends. However her chosen strategy is really about bringing back Soumik first love back into his life, who mysteriously appears to her as a better match for Soumik.
(Those that have already been shocked at the mother’s role so far, you need to appreciate – this is often how the “arranged marriage” scenario plays out in an Indian household. The child is the last to know when their best choice of mate was made on their behalf, and how. Thanksfully, things have changed a lot in the last several decades, the role of “match-makers” and & their responsibility for surveying the marriage market-place for therr best match has diminished significantly, mostly relegated to a mere formality).
How does Soumik react to his mother’s latest ploy? Do they bridge the chasm? Or does the final confrontation culminate into a more tragic situation? The answers to these queries form the crux of this story.
The star cast includes Sohini Sengupta (Mamata), Samadarshi Dutta (Samik), Bratya Basu (Manas), Ruplekha Mitra (Debjani), Bidita Bag (Jayanti) and more. Music is by Surojit Chatterjee and Bengali film songs are performed by Rupam Islam (Fossils), Siddhartha (Cactus), Subhojit (Lakkhichara), Surojit (Bhoomi), Anindo (Chandrabindu) and Anuseh (Bangla – Bangladesh).
Icche is carried almost single-handed by very talented Sohini Sengupta (a well-known stage actor), playing the role of the obsessive mother Mamata. The film shot on a small budget makes intelligent use of small intimate settings, noir-style film lighting and some moments almost feel like a stage-play, which to me enhanced the artistic quality of the film and its dark-theme. The directors Nandita Roy & Shiboprosad Mukherjee are new directors making their first film-creation from the work of an award-winning author, and certainly deserve tremendous praise for their handling of the story and directing from their own screenplay that was very well-written. Nandita Roy has been in the media space since she completed her Masters in Economics from Mumbai University. She was responsible for the establishment of ETV (Bangla) in Calcutta . Worked as the Creative Director & Branch Manager of ETV (Bangla) till May 2001. Responsible for conceptualising, designing & producing 6 hours of original programming daily. She assisted in the making of other films in Bengali including EK POSHLA BRISHTI, TOBU MONE REKHO & JAMAI NO.1. She was the co-script writer of TOBU MONE REKHO & JAMAI NO.1. She was nominated as the most important woman behind the scene working in eastern region in Protidin Tele Sanman Award in Kolkata. Shiboprosad Mukhopadhaya comes from a stage-acting background, he was a member of NANDIKAR GROUP THEATRE. In his early days he acted in several Bengali and Hindi feature films directed by leading Indian film directors Rituporno Ghosh, Kumar Sahani, Nitish Roy (also married to co-director Nandita Roy), Raja Sen, Anup Singh Batlar and Ram Gopal Verma.
The two directors manage to build up the plot almost flawlessly through most of the film, and almost to a point where I (for one) was playing “guess the endgame scenario” in my head only to be proven wrong several times. Unfortunately for them, they lost control of the storytelling in the last 20 minutes or so through needless song-sequences and several over-dramatized acting sequences that attempted to articulate what was going through ther heads, which by now was already quite obvious to the viewer. Barring these “rookie-mistakes” the directors demonstrate tremendous potential, somethng that would entice me to follow their careers and look for their subsequent films.
The writer Suchitra Bhattacharya was attracted to literature and writing from a very young age, though her literary achievements started only in the late 70’s. She is adept at churning out women-centric stories depicting their struggles, their fierce determination to overcome hurdles, their trials and tribulations through life. Her stories lay stress on the intrinsic human relationships and the conflict within. Among her repertoire of writings is “KACHER MANUSH” that has won praise and recognition. She has won literary awards for her novel “DAHAN” (the Tarashankar award, Katha award, Sahitya Setu award, Dwijendralal award and Indu Basu smriti award, Bhuban Mohini Medal from Calcutta University, Sharat Puroshkar, Bharat Nirman Award).
MAMATA: SOHINI SENGUPTA
SAMIK: SAMADARSHI DUTTA
MANAS: BRATYA BASU
DEBJANI: RUPLEKHA MITRA
JAYANTI: BIDITA BAG
SCREENPLAY & DIALOGUE: NANDITA ROY & SHIBOPROSAD MUKHERJEE
MUSIC, LYRICS & BACKGROUND SCORE: SUROJIT CHATTERJEE
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: SOUMIK HALDER
EDITOR: MOLOY LAHA
SOUND: V.N KISHOR, BISWAJIT SENGUPTA, TITO
COSTUME : RUMA SENGUPTA
ART DIRECTOR: TANMOY CHAKROBORTY
PRODUCER: VIGNESH FILMS
CO-PRODUCER: ENCASH ENTERTAINMENT PVT. LTD.
PRESENTER: RAKESH SINGH, SACHET SARAF & RITUPARNA SENGUPTA
P.R.O: NIRMAL CHAKRAVARTY
PROCESSED AT: ADLABS, CHENNAI
RE RECORDING : PRASAD STUDIO, CHENNAI
MUSIC ON : BIG MUSIC
Rupam Islam (Fossils)
Anuseh (Bangla- Bangladesh)
Format: 35 Cinemascope (Kodak)
Runtime: 132 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1:1.85
Sound: Dolby Digital Surround EX