We’re all a bit scared of loneliness – of being alone. Of being left. Of not being loved. Or needed. Or cared about. “Lonely” hits a spot of fear in all of us even if we don’t acknowledge it.
Being alone is a state of being by oneself without others around. It can actually be a healthy phenomenon, as everyone needs a little time away from others to plan, to think, and to rest.
However, being lonely is a different matter entirely. We are especially prone to loneliness in the modern society. Social media like Facebook, Whatsapp, or Snapchat may allow more convenient communication, but all these ways of communication neglect the importance of face-to-face socialization.
And at the end, despite many “friends” we have on the online media, they don’t really have anyone to talk to when they need friends most.
We prefer online communication to face-to-face conversation because online communication is less committed, if you don’t respond instantly, it’s okay. But face-to-face conversation doesn’t really need to be stressful. When you’re with someone who you can be comfortable with, silence is precious too.
Audrey Hepburn once said:
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others”
This quote highlights the importance of helping others, and also highlights the fact that most of the time we are the key to many problems we are facing; in other words, you can cure your loneliness.
Giving others a hand will help you realize your value, as you discover you are capable of doing so. And helping others also open up opportunities of deep friendships, as very often, a deep relationship is forged in adversity.
When we talk about “helping others”, you don’t need to always save others by risking life. You can just pay attention to details.
Write your colleague a card if he or she is unhappy. Read out loud for the old man living next to you. Or help a child to reach the top of a rack
Charulata – Charulata, a beautiful saga of loneliness by Styajit ray himself is based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore, Nastanirh (The broken Nest) and set in Calcutta in the late nineteenth century. Bengal Renaissance is at its peak and India is under the British rule. The film revolves around Charulata / Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee), the childless, intelligent and beautiful wife of Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee). He edits and publishes a political newspaper. Bhupati is an upper class Bengali intellectual with a keen interest in politics and the freedom movement.
Charu is interested in the arts, literature and poetry. Though Bhupati loves his wife, he has no time for her. She has little to do in the house run by a fleet of servants. Sensing her boredom, Bhupati invites Charu’s elder brother Umapada and wife Manda to live with them. Umapada helps in running of the magazine and the printing press. Manda with her silly and crude ways is no company for the sensitive and intelligent Charulata.
Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee), Bhupati’s younger cousin comes on a visit. Bhupati asks him to encourage Charu’s cultural interests. Amal is young, handsome and is of the same age group as Charu. He has literary ambitions and shares her interests in poetry. He provides her with much needed intellectual companionship and attention. An intimate relationship develops between Charulata and Amal. There is a hint of rivalry when she publishes a short story on her own without his knowledge. He realizes that Charulata is in love with him but is reluctant to reciprocate due to the guilt involved.
As a respect to Satyajit Ray, we will discuss Charulata only in detail.
In Charulata, Satyajit Ray explores the emergence of the modern woman in the upper-class of colonial India. One can not help drawing parallels with Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
The opening sequence is a piece of cinematic poetry. We see the young wife Charulata moving from one window to another in her house. She observes the activities of the outside world through the window blinds using opera glasses. She is like a caged bird in her mansion. We sense her curiosity and desire to know the outside world.
As she moves to the interior corridor of the house, we see her intellectual husband. He is too engrossed in a book and walks past her without even noticing her presence. She watches him as he walks away and stands reading. Charu raises her opera glasses and looks again as if he too belongs to the outside world. As Bhupati disappears from the view, she is expressionless and lets the opera glasses slip down. The camera is pulled back sharply, “like a flourish with a pen at the end of an essay …” in Ray’s words. Without a dialogue being spoken, we know Charulata is condemned to her loneliness and boredom.
In the final sequence, as Bhupati returns home after wandering aimlessly, Charu opens the door. Gently and with hesitation, she asks him to enter. A wavering Bhupati enters the door and reaches toward her hand. The shot is frozen and is followed with still images of Charu’s half-lit face, Bhupati’s half-lit face, a servant holding a lamp, a mid-shot of Charu and Bhupati and finally a long-shot of them. As the music rises the words “Nastanirh” (Bengali, The Broken Nest) fill the screen. It was ray’s cinematic answer to Tagore’s original ending in which Bhupati has to go out of town and Charu asks him to take her with him. He hesitates to which Charu says “Thak” meaning “Let it be”. As Ray explained later, it was his visual equivalent of the word “Thak”. “The two are about to reconcile and then prevented from doing so.”
Hail Satyajit Ray.