ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Working Moms & Alcohol Aren’t Evil: ‘Posto’ is New Bengali Cinema!

A mom who lets her kid be looked after by his grandparents, while she focuses on her career isn’t vilified? Hooray!

Published
Cinema
4 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

‘Posto’ is a funny word. It’s rather fun to say, if you squeeze your lips into two consecutive ‘o’s – something much of the India that does not speak Bengali will find pliable. For the true-blue Bengali though, ‘Posto’ (while also very fun to say) is a word to evoke reams of memories. Think aloo posto. A classic Bengali dish. Mounds of semi-mashed potatoes mixed with poppy seeds (posto), eaten with rolls of rice and lip-smacking relish. Posto is characteristic of the Bangali and their Bangaliyana (the ‘aura’ that makes you a Bangali). Posto the movie, too, is the strongest example of current-day Bangaliyana.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Is One Kind of Bengali Better Than the Other?

What makes a Bengali? The film asks pointedly, hitting a raw nerve here, a raw nerve there, with carefully thought-out precision. Is it Shantiniketan – home to (Kabiguru to Bengalis) Rabindranath Tagore’s erstwhile school, plush with nature, its quiet evenings shaken only by the sounds of sonorous Rabindrasangeet sung by hundreds of little boys and girls? Or is it Calcutta – home to the ‘modern’ Bengali, dropping your kid off at a carefully selected creche, awaiting your promotion, buying kitschy home décor for a south Calcutta flat? Is one way better than the other? Is one way of living right and the other, indubitably, wrong?

A mom who lets her kid be looked after by his grandparents, while she focuses on her career  isn’t vilified? Hooray!
What makes a Bengali? The film asks pointedly. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube screenshot)

Posto answers all these questions, and manages to do so without inciting a particular ‘side’ to anger. I know, because I watched with two generations – my grandmother and my parents, all three avid followers of the city’s cinematic scene. I know, because over the years of living away from the hub of Bengali cinema, the movies that I have watched on recommendations from friends, family and the city’s ‘bioscope’ sections have managed to surprise, thrill and please.

A mom who lets her kid be looked after by his grandparents, while she focuses on her career  isn’t vilified? Hooray!
Posto calls his grandfather ‘guruji’ – a veiled reference to all singing masters the Bengali child (me included) has grown up under. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube screenshot)

Take Posto, for example. A married couple (played by Mimi Chakraborty and Jisshu Sengupta) place their child in the custody of the man’s parents in Shantiniketan as they are hardly able to sustain themselves during the time of the child’s birth. The child grows up happily in the shelter of his grandmother who he calls ‘Maa’ and his grandfather who he calls ‘guruji’ – a veiled reference to all singing masters the innocuous Bengali child (me included) since time immemorial has grown up under.

When the child – whose name is Posto, by the way – turns seven, the parents decide to take him away because the father (who until then, had been a sort of a vagabond on the job market) finally lands a possible gig in the UK. The mother, who’s been working for the two of them until then, wants to ensure he does something for himself, and therefore, requests her in-laws to grant their child back to them.

A mom who lets her kid be looked after by his grandparents, while she focuses on her career  isn’t vilified? Hooray!
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube screenshot)
0

No, It Isn’t Cool to Resent the Working Mom

So far, so good. Until the patriarch (played by the absolute veteran Soumitro Chattopadhyay) puts his foot down, refusing to hand over his grandchild to his own son, who he scorns as being a ‘little too free with the drink’. A powerful courtroom drama ensues and the wide-eyed Bengali audience member, at the end of the credit roll, exits wondering – “What makes a Bengali, after all?”

Here’s what was joyous in the movie – and why I am choosing to rejoice. How, overshadowed by its bigger brothers in tinsel town, the eastern hub of cinema is taking huge strides in making people uncomfortable, the right way.

A mom who lets her kid be looked after by his grandparents, while she focuses on her career  isn’t vilified? Hooray!
The mother, who wants her child to live with her again, is never vilified for being a woman who let her child move away. (GIF: YouTube/Posto Trailer)
Sample this. The mother who wants her child to live with her again, is never vilified for being a woman who let her child move away. She is never painted the antagonist – either through the narrative of the movie or unwitting cinematic lapses – for being the stable working force in the family, while her husband struggles to keep a job longer than 16 days.

Conversely, her husband doesn’t resent her either for holding her job while he is chastised by his father holding a drink – he never (unlike so many toxic relationships of the millennial age) takes it out on his wife. In conversations with his father too, and through several courtroom soliloquies, he manages to debunk the ‘mod (alcohol) is bad’ taboo that many a Bengali has protested – firmly underlining that there is a difference between a ‘modkhor’ (alcoholic) and a person who enjoys an occasional drink. Nor does he ever air any opinion – either to his wife or to another person – that he resents her being the one with the well-paying job, and not him.

Well done, there.

A mom who lets her kid be looked after by his grandparents, while she focuses on her career  isn’t vilified? Hooray!
The husband doesn’t resent his wife for holding a job and doesn’t (unlike so many toxic relationships of the millennial age) take it out on his wife. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube screenshot)
ADVERTISEMENT

I watched as I thought of the many possibilities emerging out of this one. Of the jarring notes it will hopefully leave even in the most reluctant-to-budge-Bengali. Hopefully, he/she will pause just a second before they sniff at a drink and exclaim ‘Bish!’ (poison) – something I’ve heard many a relative do. Hopefully, they will let the working woman work, not with upturned noses, but with solidarity and not cry ‘noshto meye!’ (the spoilt woman). Hopefully, they will let a Bengali be, this way or the other, Shantiniketan or Calcutta, and not dub one to be ‘the better kind of Bangaliyana’.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from entertainment and cinema

Topics:  Feminism   Bengali cinema   Working Moms 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
ADVERTISEMENT
×
×