The concept of euthanasia is one that has been “tormenting” the world for ages, with a number of movies dealing with the subject through various approaches. Indrasis Acharya uses it as a base to present a number of additional social comments, mostly revolving around the concept of family.
Shubhro lives and works in America with his fiancée who is about to start an integrated PhD. However, when he learns about his mother’s death, he rushes back to India, only to find a family in shambles, and particularly his father, whose loss has multiple impacts on both his psychology and health. Eventually, his situation gets even worse when he suffers a stroke and enters a coma. The doctors give him 10-15 days but his situation does not change for months, putting the whole family into a big dilemma, as they are forced to bring him home. Shubhro’s elder sister has to take care of his everyday needs, but that means that she has to neglect her husband and daughter, while Shubhro continues to take leaves of absence from work, a tactic that threatens his career, while his fiancee starts to be increasingly bothered by his attitude. His father’s brother, Rajat, a well-known and respected doctor, advises both siblings to go on with their lives, but Shubhro cannot move on, in a decision that has him clashing with everyone around him.
Acharya directs a very realistic film that presents his comments in quite subtle fashion, and in an approach that lingers towards the stage play, since most of them are communicated through the dialogues between Shubhro and Rajat, in a number of sequences filled with tension. The dilemma between a son’s own life and filial piety is the central one, but Acharya moves it a step further, as we hear Rajat saying to his nephew that his intelligence belongs to the nation and science, and not to a dying father. His approach is the rational one while Shubhro’s, the traditional one. The fact that the elder man is the progressive one and the young the traditionalist gives a fresh perspective to the whole issue, while it can also be perceived as a subtle irony to the common opinion that the opposite is always the case.
Despite the evident logic of Rajat’s arguments, Acharya also shows how difficult it is for rationality to be implemented in a world where tradition has been the common practice for ages, to the point that only through extreme sacrifice can it be actually applied.
The fact that the narrative revolves around the opinions and psychological status of these two men, makes their acting one of the most crucial factors of the film, and it is safe to say that both deliver in impressive fashion. Rahul Banerjee as Rahul communicates his frustration and inner struggle mostly in laconic, but quite eloquent fashion, in an approach that intensifies the sole moment he erupts. Rajat Chatterjee gives a majestic performance as Rajat, emitting wisdom and logic from every word, although his frustration about his nephew’s choices also becomes apparent. However, somewhere here lies the only fault I found in the narrative, since these dialogues and the lingering situation become repetitive after a fashion, and the film would definitely benefit from some trimming in that regard, which would also decrease its duration from 109 minutes.
Santanu Dey’s cinematography on the other hand is excellent, particularly in the framing in the indoor sequences during the various discussions, which actually add to the context of each scene. The same quality applies to the various outdoor sequences that exhibit a combination of beauty and ominousness.
“Pupa” is a bit too long for its own good, but remains an interesting film that makes a number of interesting comments through an original approach that also benefits the most by the acting aspect.