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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Review: Yatra

Yatra (drama)
Cast: Nana Patekar, Rekha, Deepti Naval
Direction: Gautam Ghosh
This one's not quite the comeback film for Rekha, our perennial diva. Of course, she gets to reprise her Umrao Jaan adas and nakhras all over again. But alas! The courtesan days are long over and the 21st century has no time for what transpires in the dim-lit kothas of Mehndi Gali that celebrates an old-fashioned romance in the shadow of the Charminar.
Nor does it have patience for postscripts on Pyaasa, where Nana Patekar chooses to transform Guru Dutt's lament (and Sahir's poetry) into prosaic prose.
The problem with Yatra lies more in its post-dated script than in its performances. Both Rekha and Nana Patekar lend an integrity to their roles as the courtesan and the teacher-writer who nurture a lifelong relationship, despite social and familial constraints.
Structurally too, the film moves at multiple levels and re-tells a fact & fiction story with finesse. Patekar, on his way to receive a literary award, re-visits his fictional heroine, Lajwanti (Rekha) as he shares his reminiscences with a co-passenger who happens to be a young filmmaker too. But Lajwanti isn't merely a figment of the writer's imagination...or so it turns out as Patekar retraces his steps to his muse after the felicitation ceremony.
It's a slow, elegiac film, where the director chooses to make too many comments on too many things. So much so, they mostly end up as cursory criticism of a society that's supposedly hurtling towards doom. We'll all be monkeys again in the next century, forewarns a bitter Patekar and makes you wonder why!

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