Director Q’s self-imposed remit was to make a film that felt like ‘Tagore On Acid’. Momtaz Begum-Hossain felt as though she’d taken some after watching his latest masterpiece.
The job of a film reviewer is to watch a movie then write it up as quickly as possibly to enlighten the public so they are enticed to go and watch it. This is where I have failed in my job. It took me a week and a half to recover from the experience of watching Tasher Desh, one of the movies that premiered at this year’s London Indian Film Festival because quite frankly, it messed with my brain and I’m still slightly baffled...
Tasher Desh is a futuristic adaptation of a classic play by Bengali poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore. To say it’s a well-known story is an understatement; pretty much every Bengali knows of it; but I’m guessing no one has the kind of imagination that could possibly have interpreted it in the way that Q has.
The entire film is a visual feast for all your senses; most of which are not pleasurable. Unexpected, unsettling and disturbing; the vivid imagery, bold graphics and loud dialogue made me squirm in my seat.
The story flits between three worlds and narratives, the urban metropolis of Calcutta, a derelict and deserted castle inhabited by a young prince bored of living a secluded and sheltered life and Tasher Desh itself, The Land of Cards ruled by a hostile military regime.
As their worlds collide, the viewer is taken on a journey that at times feels like a nightmare and at others looks like heaven. Secluded beaches juxtaposed against the harshness of city living with runaway toy train sets and ancient tribal warriors; the imagery feeds your imagination and curiosity until it can no longer consume any more.
There are infinite ways to interpret Q’s Tasher Desh; there is an underlying political voice making it the perfect film to be analysed for an academic dissertation but if you detach yourself from intellectual thought and allow yourself to be drawn into Q’s sinister and eccentric vision, you’ll be rewarded with the prize of witnessing a film that’s fresh and fantastical and guaranteed to influence your dreams for at least the night that you view it…or if you’re like me, for a lot longer.