Alor Andhare: A socio psychological Ashoke Viswanathan reckoner

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Jamshedpur, Aug 10: Any announcement of an Ashoke Viswanathan celluloid vehicle raises flutters among movie connoisseurs and buffs. Even the pandemic times leading to lockdown of multiplexes and single screen movie theatres have not been able to quell that thirst as Ashoke Viswanathan, the three times National Award winning director including the one for his directorial debut film, ‘Shunno Thekey Shuru,’ is all set with his latest, ‘Alor Andhare (Darkness of Light),’ a socio-psychological poser, for release as soon as things settle down to the safer version of New Normal.

 ‘Alor Andhare’ has been shot extensively in the exotic yet mysterious locales of Odisha’s Baripada, its rural climes and daunting yet romantic junglescape where human emotions, prevailing and persistent taboos and stigmas blend into village politics that overweigh social needs and reforms. Ashoke handles the intricacies of the sensitive plot in his trademarked narrative style of a maestro’s easy, storytelling method. This is another vehicle of the ace director’s classic commentary on human situations and values.

Ashoke Viswanathan

-‘Alor Andhare’ is a brief documentation on witch hunts that lead to an actual incident of a killing in which a doctor, Abhay Ghosh, is mercilessly beaten up in a forest area of Baripada. In a deliriously feverish state, Abhay’s life seemingly flashes before his own eyes. His Medical College days, his love-hate relationship with his fiancée, Nandita, his ties with his widowed mother and his relentless search to find the reasons for his father’s sudden disappearance and death constitute the crux of this celluloid venture’s central narrative.

The film’s unfolding juxtaposes the interaction between the simple villagers and the doctor with a dreamscape in which the collective consciousness of the people of the soil sees oppression and hegemonic hatred as a recurring motif. Befriended by some and hated by as many, the embattled doctor, prone to error and misjudgment, finds a friend and philosopher in the mysterious Baba who points out, through dialogue and identification of the symbols of collective memory, how the circle of dominance that had fostered communal hatred may have claimed Abhay’s father also.

Spending nearly a decade studying medicine in India and Canada, Abhay, much to the chagrin of Nandita, settles down to work in a remote forest in Baripada where he is befriended by Jigun and his daughter, Tua. While Tua develops a soft corner for the doctor, largely unreciprocated, a group of brokers dupe Abhay into supporting their cause of building a hospital at the cost of the jungle.

Meanwhile, back home, Nandita gradually feels alienated from Abhay. Her interactions with the vacuous jet set of today oscillate in an ideological void. 

Back in the jungle rural climes, Abhay is dubbed incapable of handling the Swine Flu that assumes epidemic proportions. It is the time of Rath Yatra and devotional frenzy is gripping the region. The jungle becomes the hotbed of anxiety even as Maoists and other underground groups try to take stock of the situation. The narrative grapples with the myriad societal questions in context of events that underline redeemable realities through time and generations even as fate deals out a new set of cards.

Directed by the ever reliable National Award winning Ashoke Viswanathan, ‘Alor Andhare’ extracts every ounce of performing caliber from his artistes led by Saswata Chattopadhyay, Payel Sarkar, Joy Sengupta, Debesh Roychowdhury, Sruti Das Mohapatra, Goutam Ghose, Anusha Viswanathan, Madhumanti Moitra and Suhel Seth who take viewers on  a continued journey of ‘Then through Now and may be Beyond.’

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