Her Own Address aka Sutopar Thikana (2015) by Proshoon Rahmaan (T)

A great sample of Bangladeshi cinema


Proshoon Rahmaan, in his feature film debut adapts his own novel titled "Ishhorer Ichhe Nei Boley" with a clear purpose of highlighting the struggles of women in the male-dominated countries of south Asia. "Sutopar Thikana" premiered on Mother's Day, in 2015, in an utterly fitting tactic.

The script revolves around Sutopa, a woman in her fifties who, unexpectedly, packs her stuff and leaves the house she is living with her son, and boards a train to an unknown, initially, destination. As she travels, Sutopa reminisces about her past, with the film presenting her life from the moment her parents decide to marry her.


Her life is a true odyssey, since she seems not to have any choice in the path it takes, starting with her forceful marriage to a man she had not met before. In that fashion, and after many tears with no avail, she moves from her birthplace to a house with her husband, who proves, however, a very gentle and kind man. Sutopa eventually learns to love him and has a son with him, but her happiness does not last for long. Her husband dies, and in an action that plays a very significant role later in the film, she promises his brother, that she will be buried next to him.

Having no income, she is forced to live, along with her son, in her brother's house, where she has to face his wife's intense, and rather vocal complaints about her staying there. Later on, her son forces her to sell the land of her father, in order to finance his new business. Eventually, Sutopa starts being happy again, but this sense does not last for long.

Proshoon Rahmaan directs a very meaningful drama, highlighting the lives of women in the country, through Sutopa's story. Rahmaan pulls no punches in portraying the shame, sadness and helplessness Sutopa feels through her life, which, despite some temporary times of happiness, is filled with the above sentiments. This tactic becomes particularly evident in the scene where her future father in law, along with a local professor, give her a very demeaning test, in order to decide if she is fit for his son. The test involves her having to prove she speaks English, show her hair, and to remove her shoes to walk bare footed, with the men "judging" her even commenting on her looks, in front of her.


Furthermore, Rahmaan makes a point of stressing the fact that women in the country have absolutely no say in their lives, being totally dominated by their fathers, husbands and sons, successively. The term "parasites" used in the film, may seem a bit harsh, but is absolutely fitting.

The sole fault I found with the direction is that the film lags a bit, particularly during the end and a scene that shows, once more, what has already been depicted about Sutopa's life, although in fast forward. In that fashion, I think the movie would benefit if its duration were a bit less than 115 minutes. This issue, however, is a minor one, and in no case does it fault the general sense the film emits.

Music is a very important factor in the film, through the songs of Kumar Biswajit and Rahmaan's own lyrics that stress and even explain occasionally, both the events and the psychological status of Sutopa. The imposing narration by Asaduzzaman Noor also moves towards the same direction, particularly in the scenes where Sutopa is sitting silently on the train, reminiscing. In that fashion, the film occasionally functions as a music video, although this tactic is always with meaning, and not for pure entertainment purposes.

Cinematographer Bayezid Kamal presents the various settings the film takes place in with realistic artfulness, while Mahfuzul Haque Ashique's editing retains the relatively slow pace with competence and keeps the various timeframes from becoming confusing.


Rahmaan based the film almost exclusively on Aporna Ghosh who plays Sutopa, and she delivered in magnificent fashion, in a very difficult role, that has her portray a number of sentiments, psychological statuses, and even ages. The fact that she manages to present all of these through a laconic subtleness makes her performance even more impressive. Her character is mostly dramatic, and in that fashion, the few moments Sutopa is happy become much more intense and entertaining, as in the scene where she informs her husband she is pregnant.

"Her Own Address" is an accomplished, art-house film, which manages to combine entertainment, through its music and Ghosh's performance, with meaningfulness, through the pointy comment regarding women's lives.

 

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Asian Film Vault: Her Own Address aka Sutopar Thikana (2015) by Proshoon Rahmaan (T)
Her Own Address aka Sutopar Thikana (2015) by Proshoon Rahmaan (T)
A great sample of Bangladeshi cinema
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