‘Without the truth, his letter would be worthless he thought, just as without the letters their twenty years as couple would amount to nothing.”
A Bengali school teacher living in the remote Sundarban village and a young Japanese girl meet through letters. The medium of their letters is English which is again a foreign for both of them. Still shedding the barriers of language and culture they fall in love with each other over letters and even get married through letters! They have been married for 20 years but have never met each other for a single time!
Director Aparna Sen adapted Kunal Basu’s tender and thin short story on screen by the same name. The relationship is quite improbable one and conflict is missing and so it’s challenging to show the bonding of characters just through letters as in original story. Having read the story prior to watching this film, I’m so excited to see its screen adaptation but it seems quite a dragging ordinary in the first half. Infact It failed to appeal me initially, even the narration of the film gets stuck in just voice over with exchange of letters and gifts that clogs the space for character development and fails to connect emotionally with the drama in the first thirty minutes.
But then Sen made certain necessary insertion in the original story which is just 14 pages affair. She enhanced and added fine colors to the character of Sandhya played by Raima Sen and she is the real breath of fresh air here as all hushed up shy young widow with a son living in Bose’s home. She’s the one whom he rejected to tie knot years ago. Her return being widow with a boy to his home seems embarrassing for him but slowly her caring approach like devoted woman breaks the inhibitions between two. Rahul Bose is convincing as always but his desi English pronunciation seems quite irritating compared to his competent urban flair but then one has to keep in mind that he has to seem probable as small town school teacher. Chigusa Takaku remained in the shadow throughout the film, it’s in the end she made her presence felt not as Japanese but Indian Wife!
Above all, I do believe that it’s improbable but innocent love story with moments of unphysical love and its unfulfilled longing, with those momentary shades of life’s joy and sorrow, loss and gain. Unlike Basu’s O Henry kind of sudden unexpected ending, Sen’s screen version seems more convincing and she gave it different height while maintaining and adding to the essence of original.