Aparna Sen’s directorial debut, made in English, relies heavily on Bansi Chandragupta’s art direction for her film on loneliness and old age. An Anglo-Indian schoolteacher, Violet Stoneham (Kendall) lives a solitary life teaching Shakespeare, her major obsession, to schoolgirls. She invites Samaresh (Chatterjee) to write his novel in her house but instead he uses the place to make love to his girlfriend Nandita (D. Roy). The couple constitute Violet’s principal interaction with the outside world. The lovers get married and no longer need the flat. The teacher reconciles herself to further loneliness on Christmas Day while the soundtrack plays Silent night, holy night. Presented as a European-style character study (reminiscent of Rene Allio’s La Vieille dame indigne, 1965, and of the Merchant-Ivory films with which producer Kapoor was also associated), the film has often elicited charges of colonial nostalgia. The Indian version includes scenes removed from the British release version e.g. a sequence with Violet’s cat atop the lavatory cistern.
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Major controversy arose when Jennifer Kapoor did not win the National Award for Best Actress. The reason given was that she was not a Indian. Read More