A Handful of Stories

Reportage on health, science and politics. And some meditations on film

Asukh: A Father-Daughter Chamber Drama with Bowel Movement Talk at Dinner

A decade and a half before the Hindi film Piku, this Bengali feature offered the gender opposite of the mother-daughter drama, the Autumn Sonata, Unishe April, Tehzeeb genre

As much as I love Piku, there is a father-daughter film with similar strains but darker in its comic and emotional notes that arrived a decade and a half before it. Asukh (1999) with Soumitra Chatterjee as the father and Debashree Roy as the daughter is an early film by Rituparno Ghosh, before he found the budgets for lavish interiors and rajbari (palace house) settings. This set of films is what I call his Calcutta chamber-room dramas.

Asukh is perfect for a time like this when we have been instructed to be at home. The sense of suffocation of a Calcutta flat, conversations with a parent that go on too long (including discussions on the texture of bowel movements at dinner), some of these are things we may be going through during the lockdown. The film is the gender opposite of Unishe April, a chamber drama around a mother and daughter (which is another good lockdown watch). Comparisons are grossly unfair, but irresistible anyway—Piku is, in the end, a tragedy by the Shakespearean definition, but Asukh ends on a happier note.

Full print available on Youtube
Unfortunately, no subtitles