Um, you guys. Last night over dinner, my mom told me all about Aparna Sen’s amazing-looking new film Sonata, so yes now I am properly annoyed with the entirety of the Indian film industry for not making this film a bigger deal. Our very own Shailee Koranne did a fine job rounding up some incredible desi films starring strong female leads — and I’d probably throw in for consideration Sonata. If I wanted to trick my non-desi friends into watching this film, I’d probably say, “OMG you guys, imagine a Bollywood take on Golden Girls-meets-Bridesmaids!”
But here’s the rub: None of that is even remotely accurate. Bengali cinema has a long and storied history that’s not necessarily in the same cosmos as Bollywood blockbusters and also the Golden Girls-meets-Bridesmaids comparison is way off. But how else would you persuade a new audience into watching an Aparna Sen film?
(Sorry for the misleading headline — but hey, it got you here and watching the trailer, so also not sorry!)
We all know that Sen is an incredible auteur (15 Park Avenue is, after all, one of Sen’s finest moments!), but her film adaptation of the play of the same name by Mahesh Elkunchwar finds her creating one of the more fascinating entries in Indian cinema, especially after all the misogynistic furor generated by critics of Lipstick Under My Burkha.
Sonata explores a friendship among three women — a professor, a banker, and a journalist — as they live their lives and negotiate romantic dalliances. The best part? Sen not only serves as director, but as one of the stars. The cast is rounded out by Lillette Dubey, who I will forever remember from her memorable bit role in Kal Ho Naa Ho.
…and of course the incredible Shabana Azmi. Let’s just pause for a moment for this photo of all three Sonata heroines.
Sonata premiered on Friday in India and if we are all fortunate enough, it’ll hit a multiplex near us at some point soon.
(Might we suggest a double feature with Lipstick Under My Burkha to really create a night of perfect contemporary Indian cinema?)