An online film journal for Indian Cinema
Aparna Sen is a key figure in Bengali cinema, having started as an actress then later becoming a director. Her latest feature, Goynar Baksho (The Jewellery Box) is a supernatural ghost story set after partition. Sen has said that this is a film she has dreamed of making for a long time but rights to adapt the novel prevented her from doing so in the past. Much of the narrative unfolds in the ancestral home of a prestigious Bengali family which is evocatively recreated and anchored in the figures of a recently deceased widow and a dutiful housewife (Konkana Sen). The supernatural element which sees the ghost of the dead widow communicating with the housewife is both comical and poignantly depicted. In addition to the comic register, Sen is less successful when it comes to bringing to the mix a premature tale of repression in the character of the housewife. Although, this idea of two people who love each other but are kept apart by social norms is given a generational sweep, such a narrative strand is added much too late for it to develop fully. Nonetheless, Goynar Baksho features terrific performances and is certainly one of Aparna Sen’s most idiosyncratic films.