I was completely overdosed when i walked out of the theater after watching ‘Q”s movie ‘Tasher Desh’ (The land of cards). It’s originally a short story written by Rabindranath Tagore. It is said to be a children’s musical but surprisingly encompassing a heavy satirical drama of our political and social institutionalization and its liberation. Having this as a core idea for his own adaptation, ‘Q’ has brilliantly harbored his own fantasy version of the liberation. The pretentious idea of a story too, itself creates a grand base for its visual adaptation.
In the beginning, there is a madcap poet/storyteller who is almost fanatically obsessed with his own bizarre perplexing sub conscious construction of a story called ‘Tasher Desh’. He travels in his own reality which is parallel to his hypnotic structure of conundrum, in a non linear and dual narrative manner. The blank and white cinematographic frames have been used to depict the reality of a storyteller with his own journey to and through the ruins of his story. These frames create an absorbing ooze, an intense drug like effect. In his story, the character of PRINCE is stuck into a boring monotonous existence. The first scene of a continuous long shot from various different angles shows him playing a game of table-tennis with his friend, which is a metaphor for his monotonous life and eventual boredom. As Prince and his friend seek to escape their reality and to explore, they end up on a strange island, the ‘Island of the cards.’ In the movie, the whole first half is a slow infusion of psychedelia which bursts into some erratic blow of graphic novel prototype imagery when the price and his friend have been captured by the cards in Tasher Desh.
The land of cards is a pure dystopian, anti-Freudian, totalitarian and fascist society of cards who all are soldiers. Cards maintain a certain hierarchy in the land .Everyone wears a uniform and paint their faces white. They all are obsessed with maintaining peace, discipline and order of this land by discarding reason and any kind of human touch. (Very much similar to Plato’s idea of three stage hierarchy in aristocracy or Verna system)This fascist dystopia is based on the cards’ rigid sense of order and discipline. All they know is to follow the given order in the given way, where they exist to operate themselves as mere gears and parts of a giant machine of a totalitarian state. They do not engulf any kind of doubt or a personal desire at all.( If we stretch our imagination a little, then we can see the direction of our world going into with the growing state of ignorance, irrationality and regimentation of people.) So further in the story, after being caught by cards, the prince and his friend are questioned by the king of cards for their business in these lands. Prince states his business here as a messenger to bring the massage of ‘TROUBLE’! He introduces laughter and sing songs of disorder into the hearts of queens. This small seed of an idea eventually grows up into a tree and brings chaos and disruption of the original political order of cards. (This particular course of the story made me to remember Dostoevsky’s ‘The dream of a ridiculous man’ where, the protagonist of a story travels to utopia and introduces a single lie which eventually breaks down the Utopian society and brings chaos.)
The only difference is ‘Q”s idea of liberation of Tasher Desh is initiated by introducing sex.lust & love. He has used a manifold surreal imagery to build an idea of sexual liberation with libidinous climax which ends with a post-modern styled Anarchist Anthem, ‘Bandh Bhege Dao’.
‘Q’ has told before in his interviews that he is attempting to deconstruct Tagore, I think in which he has been quite successful. The imagery he put as a director is very much surreal, hallucinating and having some abstracts of graphic novel like prototype. In the original play by Tagore, there is no character of a ‘storyteller’. Where as in his own adaptation, ‘Q’ creates a whole other parallel mid layer of reality by introducing an obsessed storyteller. In my opinion, the character of the storyteller depicts the shadow of director’s own surreal expressions. Alongside, the idea of a story within a story and with its dual narrative build up placidly incepts a deep sense of confusion in both layers of the story. This kind of experiment is certainly a new and rare treat for Indian film viewers.
His camera backs his non-linear story intensely with some edgy hand held camera movements and constantly moving visuals in some shots which makes it more being overdosed which is ancillary to the hint of storyteller’s journey through his meta-reality.
The music is just extra ordinary. Lyrics are originally written by Rabindranath Tagore, its a whole independent experience of his aura and a very important factor in the movie itself. Apart from the sense of camera, the music of the film is another solid gain. The original Rabindra Sangeet has been fused with dub, jazz & electronic music. The fusion mixes sublimely well with the lyrics and brings an amorous euphoric experience.
Obviously the original story from Tagore is extremely correspondent to our current reality but ‘Q’ makes it ultra real with his idea of social revolution through sexual liberation which is more human than anything. Certainly, ‘Q’s ideas are very much discordant to our current social norms. He is not from the old school of artists who already have a particular structure of their expression. His adaptation is almost a sensory and visual striptease, as he himself quoted before, ‘Anyone can make you laugh or cry, I want to make you horny.’
– Onkar Dichwalkar