“Memories In March” is a soft cinematic brush-stroke on a subject still very much taboo in Indian society in terms of popular acceptance despite the occasional hullaballoo stirred by NGOs, human right activists, the gay community and above all the Judiciary with its historic verdict decriminalizing homosexuality (2011).
Aarati (Deepti Naval), shell-shocked by the news of her son Siddharth’s sudden demise, rushes off to Kolkata, to attend his last rites and pack his memories back with her to Delhi. During her short stay in the city, a grieving Aarati finds solace and support in beautiful Shahana (Raima Sen) whom she presumes to be her dead son’s girl-friend. It is, therefore, a bolt out of the blue when a visibly distraught Aarati finds out that her son was intimate with his boss, Ornob (Rituparno Ghosh). Thereafter, the screen play revolves around Aarati and Ornab, their quests, doubts and self-discoveries, a touching journey from incredulity to denial to ultimate acceptance.
Director Sanjoy Nag skilfully circumvents volatility and approaches the sensitive theme with extreme caution and elegance. In spite of the intrinsically dramatic content, the portrayal is distinctly understated and subtle. The anguish of an inconsolable mother is conveyed by a drawn face and hollow eyes. A lone egg resting on the egg tray in the refrigerator reinforces the sepulchral mood of irretrievable loss. The ice-laden deep freezer effectively symbolizes the stiffening coldness of death. The camera roves around an unoccupied flat wherein the telephone rings on incessantly and the whirring of an unattended answering machine wordlessly captures the oceanic emptiness that death leaves behind. On the contrary, Ornob’s tearful outburst subdues the audience into mournful silence.
“Memories In March” does not remain confined within the stifling boundaries of stigmatized relation and its complexities. It transcends beyond and handles the poignancy of eternal loss with a poetic grace which is novel in itself. Thus, Aarati addresses Siddharth in present tense. “I am leaving a bit of me with you” sums his final adieu on Face Book. The “I Love You” ring tone of his Mobile wistfully hangs in air. These vespers of memories bespeak of deathless presence. “Memories In March” unobtrusively repeals the finality of death and lends visuals to a timeless abstraction that has overwhelmed human hearts with wonder, fear and melancholia.
Again, in stark contrast, it is death which defies all earthly challenges and oppositions. It is by death that Ornob and Siddharth’s bond of love is eternally sealed. It is in death that Aarati finds the strength to accept his son as he is. It is in death that every worldly squabble comes to an end. It is in death that every man-made conflict is unequivocally put to rest.
Deepti Naval as Aarati is magically moving. Raima as Shahana is the pragmatist who takes advantage of waylaid opportunities to squirm out of a painful situation. Rituparno as Ornob personifies innocence of love and surprises by his naturalness and honesty.
“Memories In March” is a movie to be watched with an open mind and a caring heart!