By Rachit Raj
Music Teacher is not about the one who made it big. It is about the people who are left behind, alone in their darkness while someone close to them has found a life that they desired for themselves. It is a simple idea hinged on the singularly powerful narrative of selflessness that goes unnoticed in a success story.
Sarthak Dasgupta’s directorial is an intelligent study of regret, loss and loneliness. It is a languid film that sucks the audience in the world of Beni (Manav Kaul), a music teacher who we meet as a middle-aged man who sings every night as a part of his routine, living his dream of becoming a playback singer in those few minutes before returning back to being a good brother and an obedient son.
Beni is a man who is chained by his surroundings. Every movement he makes is calculative, almost cautious. The only time he lets go is in those few minutes when he sings. The song becomes his medium to feel close to Jyotsna (Amrita Bagchi), a disciple he has failed to forget even after all these years.
The relationship Beni shares with Jyotsna in a lesser movie could have gone the A Star Is Born way. Beni, though, carries no jealousy towards his most successful student. What he feels bad about is not having her around, and in that process not having the more carefree Beni around who was able to afford a laugh once in a while. All he has is the bridge where he asked to meet her – a bridge that is a visual manifestation of their distancing relationship over the years.
He might find a few moments of peace with his neighbor Geeta (Divya Dutta), who is herself reeling from a personal loss. But Beni is never emancipated in absence of Jyotsna, and in that silent monotony, the film extracts a fascinating yearning for unfulfilled desires. It derives a language of silence that the film prefers over that of stuffed dialogues and music. It is this silence that makes Music Teacher a satisfying watch.
The idea of Mumbai as the elusive west juxtaposing the silent truth of Shimla forms a major conflict in the film. Mumbai, for Beni, is like that green light for Jay Gatsby. It is an opportunity that is lost in the past. His reality will forever be the silence of Shimla. Jyotsna might pass by sometimes like a shooting star, but ultimately decisions taken in the past will have the final say for a person like Beni as he continues to live the silence of Shimla for Jyotsna while she lives the larger-than-life Bollywood dream of Beni. Both dissatisfied, stuck in each other’s dream life.
Streaming on: Netflix