Raincoat (2004), was written and directed by Rituparno Ghosh, who is said to have drawn his inspiration from a short story of the same name by O. Henry.

What we essentially see and hear in this film is a long conversation between Mannu (Ajay Devgun) and Neeru (Aishwarya Rai) on a rainy afternoon in Kolkata. There are intermittent showers in the background, along with intermittent flashbacks to small town Bhagalpur, where the two are shown as young lovers. They are seen to part ways as Neeru’s parents decide to marry her to a man from a rich family, while Mannu sets off to his make his mark in life. As it happens, Neeru gets trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Mannu does not progress much in his career.

Years later, when they meet in Kolkata, Mannu presents himself as a successful television producer, and Neeru pretends to be a happy wife of a wealthy businessman. They indulge and continue in this make-believe, playing a sort of battle of wits, until it is time to part again. However, when Neeru has to go out in the rain for a while wearing Mannu’s raincoat, her landlord drops in by chance and tells him about Neeru’s real hardships. And in the raincoat pocket she finds a letter which reveals Mannu’s financial distress. But in spite of their own problems, they try to help each other quietly in their own ways. Mannu pays off a part of the landlord’s dues and Neeru leaves some of her jewellery in the raincoat pocket.

Although the film has a couple of sequences that have been shot in the heavy showers typical of the Kolkata monsoon, ‘Raincoat’ is not about rain or the use of raincoats and umbrellas. It is about love, and about how it is only true love that offers the best protection against the storms of life.

Shubha Mudgal is the theme vocalist for the film and she has given many powerful renderings, such as akele hum nadiya kinare, mathura nagarpati and particularly piya tora kaisa abhimaan, which is also sung by Hariharan. The poetry is by Gulzar, recited by him in his own voice.

Advertisements