Review: ‘Music Teacher’ Is a Beautiful Tale of Love, Hope and Waiting
The question then might have seemed childish, but the answer centred around their entire lives. In that film, two strangers meet in the most tragic circumstances only to be bound together by hope and a long wait.
Sarthak Dasgupta’s simple yet moving film Music Teacher, streaming on Netflix, delves deep into this strong emotion that makes waiting a little more bearable - hope. A mother hopes her son will get married and lead a ‘happy’ life, an abandoned wife hopes her neighbour will reciprocate her feelings, an ailing father hopes his son will come and meet him before he breathes his last, a music teacher hopes his student will remember him, and a student hopes her teacher will forget the past to come and cheer for her.
Set in Shimla, the film opens with a singer Beni Madhav (Manav Kaul), standing on the edge of a cliff, about to light a cigarette when he hears a voice. He throws the cigarette away and returns home only to be told by his sister that Jyotsna (Amrita Bagchi) is coming to Shimla to perform.
Slowly and steadily the director narrates a love story that blossomed in the mountains through flashbacks.
Madhav, who went to Mumbai in the hopes of making it big in the film industry, is forced to return to his hometown Shimla after his father passes away. He starts giving music tuitions to students and in the process meets Jyotsna, his most gifted pupil. The sessions bring them closer, until the girl professes her love for her teacher and wants to build a future with him. However, Beni has bigger plans for her because hidden in them are his unfulfilled dreams that he wants to unlock. This creates a bridge between the two, the narrow bridge where Madhav stands waiting for Jyotsna, symbolic of the wide gulf.
Eight years pass and as Beni Madhav waits for Jyotsna to come to Shimla, he befriends Geeta (Divya Dutta), his neighbour. She ‘eavesdrops’ as Beni sings his heart out every night, somehow hoping that he would be able to fill the void in her life. The film ends with the promise of multiple possibilities, with a climax that is much more believable than many other films.
Inspired by Joy Goswami’s famous poem Malatibala Balika Bidyalay, Music Teacher beautifully borrows the idea of waiting from the piece. While the former narrates the story of a girl waiting for a person she met when she was a teen, the latter reverses the roles.
Though the film is just 100 minutes long, certain pregnant pauses seems too much of a drag. A brilliant Neena Gupta has her moments (I loved the scene in the basement where she explains to Beni that every episode in life cannot be perfect), but her talent is unfortunately not fully utilised. Manav Kaul perfectly brings out his inner conflicts through his silence. Amrita Bagchi shines in parts and Divya Dutta’s yearning makes us hope that she will probably find the much-needed happiness she deserves.
In a world where grandeur and suspension of disbelief overshadow simple tales set in small towns, OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime open doors for directors like Sarthak Dasgupta. Perhaps it is time we seek comfort in these tales.