The legendary Aparna Sen – Satyajit Ray’s find in the 1961 Teen Kanya, when she was barely 15 – has given us one of her finest works in The Rapist, which had its world premiere at the ongoing Busan International Film Festival the other evening. She debuted as a director with 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), a supremely moving look at ageing and loneliness seen through an actor as compelling as Jennifer Kendal, who plays schoolteacher Violet Stoneham in Calcutta. One of the last scenes in which she finds herself alone and unwanted had the power to bring tears in our eyes. Shown against the backdrop of Christmas and ‘Silent Night’, it is an image that has stayed with me all these years.
Sen has since then made a whole lot of socially relevant movies. Apart from 36 Chowringhee Lane, which also had Dhritiman Chatterjee and Debashree Roy, I was particularly impressed with Mr and Mrs Iyer, a powerful take on religious divisiveness and animosity. With Konkana Sensharma and Rahul Bose in the lead, the film was really subtle and spoke a lot about how in the midst of all this rage and vendetta, there was one woman who took it upon herself to save a man from certain death.