(A movie on Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage (IRBM) or No Fault Divorce)
(A movie on Silver Divorce)
What will you do if your father asks for a divorce after 49 years of his successful marriage? That is what Biswanath Majumdar (Soumitra Chatterjee) did in the film “বেলাশেষে” (Bela Sheshe). He called all his three married daughters settled in different parts of India and their children to his house in Kolkata to announce that he had already filed for a divorce in the court and gave away major share of his property to his wife Arati.
The message shocked everyone and his empowered daughter Mili (Rituparna Sengupta) started blaming him for being irresponsible and asked for reasons why he had filed for divorce without even informing their mother. However, Biswanath was not ready to give any reason to anyone. His reply to Mili was that when she believed in independence for herself and if she didn’t tell everything about her life to her husband Bijon, she didn’t have any right to ask the same question to Biswanath. Mili, who was also romantically involved with another married man didn’t have anything else to say after that.
But his son Barin (Shankar Chakraborty) who was living in the same house with his family cried to him. Barin said, he always looked upon his parents as gods and couldn’t see them separated. He felt it was due to some fault of his.
Amidst high emotional drama, the news of this silver divorce spread to others in the neighborhood as the court proceedings started. Arati had taken care of the family for almost fifty years and always agreed to what Biswanath wanted. So when her feminist lawyer used bad words (as typical of a feminist) for Biswanath, Arati protested. She wanted to agree to Biswanath’s proposal of divorce. When both agreed for a divorce the court said they could go for Mutual Consent Divorce as Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage or No-Fault divorce is not yet legal in India. Court however orders two of them to go out somewhere and spend 15 days together.
But Arati wanted to take their whole family. That was the time when Palash (youngest son-in-law) thought about a sting operation on the couple to understand why Biswanath wanted a divorce after almost 50 years of a successful marriage?
They installed CCTV cameras and microphones in couple’s room and the truth of the relationship glitch was eventually revealed. The truth that made all other younger couples (the children, watching the live feed from another house) reconcile their differences, and come closer.
But even after the reasons were unearthed Biswanath didn’t go back to his family in Kolkata. Rather he stayed in Shantiniketan along with their servant Ganesh.
But that was not all. What was the truth? Why didn’t Biswanath go with his wife who apparently didn’t have any fault? And what happened in the end is something one needs to see in the movie.
This movie raises some serious questions about our successful marriages. It raises question, if there exists any love or it is only a habit that binds the couple together. What if one gets bored of the same life, what if one wants to enjoy his life and go out to see the world or live a different life after fifty years of marriage. Can his children or spouse stop him? What about his rights, his freedom?
This movie has some small technical glitch in explaining Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage or no fault divorce. Biswanath’s lawyer said to the court that there is no fault in Arati which was the biggest fault in the marriage and hence the divorce. With that poor argument he wanted a successful divorce for a septuagenarian man with four well settled children and a well behaved and a caring wife. It is important to clarify at this juncture that a No Fault divorce was possible under the Marriage Law Amendment only after three years of separation (possible even when staying in the same house but in different rooms, was valid for Biswanath-Arati) between a couple. It was termed as “No-Fault” because a spouse did not need to prove any fault of the other spouse to get a divorce.
There is another small error in the movie. It showed tender Neem leaves being used to keep worms away from books. Normally it is properly dried Neem leaves and branches that are used to keep worms away as tender leaves attract more worms rather than reducing them.
Keeping the small glitches aside, we need talk about superb acting of the cast and especially Soumitra Chattopadhyaya and Kharaj Mukhopadhyay; this movie uses Bengal’s favourite Rabindra sangeet tunes and raga based music with best use of instrumental.
The movie’s script needs special mention as this had made the audience cry and laugh at the same time. Acting of Kharaj Mukhopadhyay has added to the awesomeness of the script. Popular Rabindra Sangeet tunes were brilliantly used to bring out emotions.
In the end, this movie did show some misandry as Biswanath’s daughters showed disrespect to him for his decision. Also he had to lose to his wife and come back to her. However, keeping that aside, this movie also questions the emotional needs of couples and a ‘habit’ of staying together keeping them abound rather than love. This movie questions what is ‘love’ in reality, is it the ‘habit’ of staying together and liking every small detail of the other person?
Overall, I will give this movie 4.5 out of 5 as it delves with a very important social issue like divorce plaguing our society today. With even children talking about divorce and hi-profile divorce cases, it gave a message to everyone that divorce is a growing phenomenon in India today.
This movie not only keeps us engaged all through the show, it keeps us thinking of our life even after coming out of the hall, so much, that you will like the habit of going to Bengali movies time and again for this awesome feeling.