Director: P.C. Barua; Writer: P.C. Barua, Sajanikanta Das, Ajoy Bhattacharya, A.H. Shore; Producer: Rajnarayan Dube; Cinematographer: Bimal Roy; Editor: Kali Raha; Cast: P.C. Barua, Kanan Devi, Menaka, Nawab, Amar Mullick, Sailen Choudhary, Ahi Sanyal, Jagdish Sethi, Bikram Kapoor, Pankaj Mullick, Indu Mukherjee, Kanak Narayan, Bibhuti Chakraborty, Kashi Choudhury, Jatin Dey, Sardeb Ray, Sukumar, Sudhir, Laxmi
Duration: 01:55:02; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 60.001; Saturation: 0.018; Lightness: 0.212; Volume: 0.158; Cuts per Minute: 3.668; Words per Minute: 63.761
Summary: Barua's classic adultery story tells of an artist, Prasanta (Barua) presented in the stereotypically romantic image dedicated to his vocation, paying no heed to his scandalous reputation (he paints nude models) and with a cavalier attitude to his conservative father-in-law's (Choudhury) demands for good social behaviour. He is married to the rich Chitra (Kanan Devi). The couple are in love but neither partner is prepared to compromise their ideals. The marriage falls apart. Prasanta concedes his wife demand for a divorce and goes to the jungles of Assam, where for many years his closest associates are a wild elephant and Jharna (Menaka), the wife of an innkeeper named Pahari (P. Mullick). He also makes a sworn enemy of a local trader (Nawab/A. Mullick). Chitra marries the millionaire Bipul (Mukherjee) and they go on an elephant hunt. They kill Prasanta's pet elephant. Since Chitra believes Prasanta to be dead he avoids meeting her, but he is forced to rescue her from the vilainous trader. Prasanta succeeds but dies at Chitra's feet. The film interprets his death as Chitra's final achievement of the freedom she had craved. Barua contrasts the regressive story presented as static and unresolved, both as narrative and performance, with a hyperactive environment that overwhelms the trivial nature of the lead couples' desires. There are many sequence shots tracking through walls - including the justly celebrated 'psychological' opening shot as Prasanta walks through one door after another until he reaches his studio, and from interior to exterior, while nature is exemplified by mountains, trees, wind and charging elephants. This was one of the first elaborate filmic uses of Tagore's lyrics, with the poet's original tunes (Sahar range rang, Mesa te bobe. Tar biday belar malakhani), but one of the film's big hits, Diner sheshe ghumer deshe, was composed originally for the film by Mullick.
Release date: 18 September, 1937 (Chitra)
Released two years after his iconic Devdas (1935), Barua's Mukti is a classic adultery tale that also weaves in questions regarding the introspective lives of artists who are very often at odds with the moral codes that govern society, and nature of relationship between men and women in contemprrary urban society. However, as regressive and closed the narrative can tend to be, what sets Mukti apart has to do with two primary reasons: firstly, it is a testament to Barua's flamboyant direction and grasp over the technicalities of the medium and secondly, it was the film that arguably catapulted Kanan Devi to stardom in Bengali, and Indian, cinema.
The first scene has been subject of intense debate. Barua's character, the painter Prasanta, walks through successive doors as the camera tracks through the walls (one of many such tracking shots in the film) and we follow him on his movement from the inside to the outside - the journey is symbolic of the journey from the interior, his domain where he paints and creates art, to the exterior, the superficial world outside which constantly vilifies him and which his beloved wife Chitra (Kanan Devi) also inhabits.
In spite of his reticence about the outside world, the husband and wife share a warm camaraderie. This is despite their apparent differences, demonstrated in some ways by her insistence that he should not enter the room while she is changing her clothes.
Her comments about his lack of shame and the fact that people dislike artists because of such behaviour is telling and lays bare one of the central concerns of the plot: the role and position of artists in a world bound by moral codes. He paints nudes and that is a bone of contention with her father who does not see eye to eye with his rebellious son-in-law.
There are three frames of reference in the room at one point of time, the two frames with their portraits and a third false frame where he attempts to hide. The camera pans from one to the other, the artist framed beside his own image, as the real and the representation seem for a moment identical until she literally inserts herself into the frame and pulls him out. This last bit is significant, she pulls him out or attempts to, something that will be a recurrent leitmotif at least in the first half of the narrative.
Kanan Devi, as has been mentioned already, was one of the first singing stars in Indian cinema and one of the first Bengali cine stars after Umasashi. The song itself is significant: she sings of the need to take on the colours of the multitude, to assimilate oneself with the beauty of the surrounding worlds. The song by Tagore takes on radically altered dimensions when one considers that taking on the colours of the surroundings would also mean a sort of conformity that artists like Prasanta perhaps dread.
She turns around to see him dressed in the most absurd of ways, perhaps a direct reaction to her lyrical demand that he dress himself in the colours available around him. He informs her that he cannot go to her father's house because he has just chanced upon a new idea and one gets the impression that this is an oft-repeated episode in their lives.
Her quip about the model reveals possible suspicions she harbours about her eccentric husband. At the same time, his answer holds a firm and warning tone, suggestive of his annoyance at what he perhaps perceives as intrusion into his artistic space.
A series of things are noticeable here. The people gathered at the party are clearly intrigued by the famous artist and wish to meet him. His father-in-law Mr. Mullick, however, is not so impressed by his fame and neither is Bipul, who was once a suitor of Chitra. The latter, in fact, does not let go of a single opportunity to insult Prasanta.
Bipul, elated, runs in to inform that Prasanta is not here. Chitra's confiormation of the fact is met with stern disapproval from Mr. Mullick to seems to expect this sort of a behaviour from Prasanta.
Prasanta paints nudes, an obvious symbol of moral transgressions. The mise-en-scene of the studio reinforces this idea of the transgressive artist as one of the central features of the studio is a giant statue of Venus, the epitome of feminine beauty. It also represents a certain ideal notion of a woman that one can assume Prasanta believes in. The camera tracks out, tracks in and then pans through the scene as Prasanta continues to paint and hum, having forgotten all about the party.
It immediately cuts to Chitra's father having lost his temper because of his behaviour. A businessman and engineer, he represents the world that is directly in conflict with Prasanta's, the world where an artist's work represents nothing but an indulgent luxury.
Chitra, despite her own disappointment, supports her husband in the face of her father's tirade.
Bipul's mother occupies the role of a sort of senex figure with certain crucial displacements - her opposition or attempts at insulting Prasanta stem from the fact that Chitra had chosen him over her son. Her insinuations regarding Prasanta and his models forms one of the central plot elements of the first half.
Chitra on her part is strong-willed and forthright. She admits her husband's many faults while sternly reprimanding the mother-son duo in the process.
Bipul represents a facet of Barua's continued critique of the bhadralok project, a theme that is central to his iconic comedy Rajat Jayanti (1939). As Mr. Mullick mentions, people of Bipul's ilk survive off their ancestral earnings, spending their time instead in superficial exercises of culture and refinement.
Prasanta is completely unaware at first that his excuse does not pass muster with Chitra. What perhaps makes him realize is her terse response about it not being a novel incident.
His apology, as it turns out, is not something she was looking for. Instead, she displays complete conviction in him; her anger and disappointment stemming from the nasty allegations she has had to hear from everyone about her husband.
She admits to feeling fear and shame which, ironically, are the very things her husband does not even acknowledge from society. Her desires are simple, recognition and admiration for him. Their debate, in fact, is the quintessential debate about the artist's position vis-a-vis society and its norms. Her request for him to come out into the open with her, reflects back on the first shot and his negotiations with his external and internal worlds.
The shot of the bust of Gautam Buddha, and his associations with renunciation, encapsulates this very debate and seems to be in dialogue with the artistic spirit seeking to escape constraints. Her song, explaining how only she sees his true beauty and which is why she attempts to draw him out, encapsulates what she has been trying to explain to him perfectly.
Another long tracking shot this time across across the walls, showing the various rooms and people working inside them in an office. The shot then reverses, with Bipul entering, again opening and closing a series of doors behind him to reach Mr. Mullick's office. There is a sense of uniformity, symmetry in these rooms, a strange sense of sameness which couples with the mimicry of the first scene to produce an exact counter-image of the former. The idea, it seems, is to drive home the fact that these spaces, unlike Prasanta's studio, replicate a sense of conformity and sameness that entirely lacks any creativity. The petulant complaint, and Mr. Mullick's complete dismissal of this, despite his anger with Prasanta, reinforces this fact. In a complete mockery of the trivial nature of the events in this scene, Bipul retraces his steps, chastised, and goes and sits beside the security guard. The cinematography of the film was by Bimal Ray, who had begun his career as a cinematographer for Nitin Bose and Barua before breaking turning director for the seminal Udayer Pathe (1944). His attention to mise-en-scene, along with realist elements and new techincal innovations, is evident in his early camera work in films like Mukti and Devdas (1935).
Despite her claims earlier, the accusations directed at Prasanta have affected Chitra, making her suspicious of him.
Prasanta, it has already been seen, draws nude female figures for which he needs female models to pose for him, something that is unacceptable in the bhadralok moral economy.
The two primary representatives of this moral economy, as we have already seen, are Bipul and his over-indulgent mother. Most of their scenes are quasi-comic, although their discussions have immense impact on the proceedings of the first act. At the same time, there is a constant undercurrent of narratorial derision and sarcasm that is directed at them, be it in their Bipul's witless reactions to most things, or his excessively poetic forms of speech.
A similar sarcasm is directed at Chitra's father too quite often, like here when he gets into the bathtub having forgotten to take off his trousers or calls to rebuke Prasanta as soon as the latter enters.
Prasanta's conversation with the model is the first instance when he expresses his feelings about the society around him. He calls them pretentious, attempting to pass off as people they are not their whole lives.
This is intercut with scenes where Bipul has managed to succeed in making Mr. Mullick furious about the rumours regarding Prasanta and his models. Despite Chitra's insistence that Prasanta will probably not meet them, her father insists on paying him a visit.
A potentially charged scene of accusation and confrontation and yet the figure of the father-in-law, fuming and dressed in a bath robe serves to emphasize that it is a trivial discussion, a trope used repeatedly throughout the first act of the film where the artist-figure has to contend with constricting social mores.
However, Prasanta's usually unfailing confidence seems to suffer a blow when he is confronted by the reality of Chitra's suspicions.
Chitra voices questions about the nature of art that have been teased at till now when she directly asks whether such images that he draws are art at all. Their positions on opposite ends of the spectrum of morality make it clear that there is no one satisfying answer to such a question for both of them.
The choice she offers him is already rendered redundant because of their highly polarised points-of-view, where each thinks the other to be wrong.
Prasanta, disappointed, tells the model that he does not need for her to pose for him anymore. The model's words are significant in this context: her comment that he can only cause hurt is probably something used in a personal context but in the context of the conversation he has just had with Chitra, the words strike deep.
This is made evident in the very next scene when Chitra repeats the exact same words. She has made up her mind about their marriage with her suspicions having firmly entrenched themselves in her.
Prasanta's last desperate attempt to force Chitra to stay back is rife with a curious set of paradoxes. On the one hand, he viciously attacks the codes of propriety, shame and morality that he perceives is clouding their judgment, making a claim for artistic freedom. At the same time, this critique of the bhadralok moral economy is bolstered by a quintessential patriarchal demand that his wife come to terms with his points-of-view and that her duty lies in doing so, even resorting to violence to get his point across.
In a climactic moment for the first act, Chitra accuses him of never having understood her, desperately requesting him to grant her freedom. In this context, one must emphsize that the word 'mukti', which is used here and which gives the film its title, cannot simply translated as 'freedom'. Instead, 'mukti' stands for deliverence, an absolute detachment from constraints. In setting her free, his sets himself free too; their fundamental incompatibilty coupled with an artist's lack of patience for moral restraints and shame, making ther relationship fundamentally incompatible.
The beggar on the street is an moment of revelation for Prasanta, bringing into crisis his perceptions of beauty that have been central to his art.
At the same time, it also reveals a side of the city that he seems desperate to get away from. Disjointed close-up shots of his feet, cuts to the road as the camera tracks along, underlining that feeling of running away.
This shattering realisation and his anger prompt him to trash his studio and destroy his own painting, a symbolic gesture reminiscent of the artist having suddenly woken up the futility of his creations in a harsh unforgiving world. The final act of breaking the statue of Venus, central to his perception of art and central to his space as well, is reminiscent of his renunciation of the ideals of perfection and beauty he had thus far adhered to with Chitra's words playing a crucial role in this paradigm shift.
The shot of the lone bust of Gautam Buddha reinforces this idea of renunciation. He goes to break it, stops, and holds it aloft to the light, and the pace and frenzy of the scene along with the background score immediately calms down.
In a deeply symbolic gesture of peace, he places the bust of Buddha in veneration amid the wreckage of his studio and kneels in front of it as the scene fades to black.
The next scene opens with the long shot of Prasanta's car, abandoned near the river, the implication being he has died though we soon learn that is not true.
The letter he has left behind for Chitra is crucial especially because of one line he had written and then struck out. He had written that he had been unsuitable for her and then struck it out to replace it with a sort of accusation that she had been unable to find happiness with him. This act, whether deliberate or not, underlines his distaste for the conventions and expectations that had prompted his rejection of society itself.
The state of the car, the letter, and the wreckage of the studio, everything leads to the assumption that Prasanta has committed suicide.
The second act of Mukti shifts from the urban metropolis to a little hamlet near the Garo hills in Assam.
The setting immediately becomes important. A long line of tea-garden workers walk by singing of the oppression they face and their daily struggles. The place is as far removed from the city as possible and with its connotations of wild abandon one gets the sense that the setting is deliberate, especially since Barua himself was from Assam. Prasanta, it is revealed, has abandoned the city and its restrictions for the so-called uncivilised wild abandon of the hills, recalling his father-in-law's comments in the previous scene. He is now, for all practical purposes, a barbarian as the old man had constantly pointed out.
The second half, true to the nature of its setting, follows a classic set of tropes and has a primary antagonist - the nameless Sardar who is the leader of the coolies carrying cotton. This is a significant departure from the first act where, following the conventions of the indoor drama, there were no archetypical villains. Sardar, played by Amar Mullick, is never named, perhaps because he is type rather than a character, conceived solely to produce conflict with the self-exiled Prasanta and drive the narrative forward. Prasanta, in fact, lays it all out clearly when he admits that since this is a wildly different place, the rules and codes governing this place are also vastly different.
Sardar picks up Chitra's photo that Prasanta had dropped.
The roadside inn hear the foothills run by Pahari and his companion Jharna. Pahari is played by Pankaj Mullick, a singing star at the time and the music director of many of Barua's films including Mutkti. Jharna is played by Menaka who would go on to play crucial roles in Barua's Adhikar and Rajat Jayanti. These two characters, besides their crucial involvement in the second act, are also symbolic of the freedom that the setting is meant to represent.
The coolies and travellers, perhaps, mostly deal in barter where the coolies get alcohol in exchange of the cotton they give to Pahari.
Despite his roughness, Pahari is compassionate, understanding the plight of the coolies and even making excuses on their behalf.
The hyperactive environment that is supposed to be the second act is highlighted by the charging, bellowing elephant that Prasanta has taken as a companion in the wilderness - a symbol of wildness that can be tamed but always runs the risk of tipping over. This is emphasized by the information that their makeshift home has just been swept away by a sudden waterspout.
Prasanta hears the sound of Jharna singing nearby in the inn.
The sound of the bellowing wild elephant stops the revelry as the dwellers at the inn resort to traditional methods - lighting fires, beating tins and drums - to drive away a tusker.
The life of a vagabond, prone to a dependance on alcohol, when having been rejected by society, is a recognisable theme - both from Saratchandra Chattapadhyay's Devdas and Barua's first cinematic adaptation of the same two years prior to Mukti. The second act, in certain subtle ways, cites Devdas quite a few times.
Prasanta's arrival at the inn does not go entirely smoothly at first as one would expect. Pahari is naturally distrustful, especially because he is an outsider, a drunk who lives like a vagabond and travels with a gun and an elephant. Also, crucial here is the nature of Pahari and Jharna's relationship - they live together but are not married as it is suggested - a far cry from the bhadralok morality that Prasanta had sought to extricate himself from. In many ways, the Pahari, Jharna,and Prasanta troika, with its associations of sex and alcohol, begins to resemble the dynamics between Chunnilal, Chandramukhi and Devdas.
Prasanta has been drinking to get away from his memories and the scene immediately cuts to Chitra, singing in reminiscence.
Chitra has sold Prasanta's studio, perhaps cutting their last ties to each other. It must be noted that her father says something that Prasanta had written and then struck out - that he was unsuitable for Chitra.
Jharna and Prasanta have formed an easy bond, especially over the former's concerns over his drinking. At the same time, Prasanta quips that she is uncivilised and would not be admitted into society because she unabashedly expresses her feelings and concerns - an ironic reference to his distaste for such civil pretentions.
The question of religion is not something that really comes up in Mukti despite Prasanta's virulent opposition to dominant social structures. However, the usage is interesting here. Jharna, has opened up her home and her kitchen for him just because he is her guest and, according to quintessential Hindu beliefs, a guest is akin to the divine. Thus, her sudden halting query as to whether he is a Hindu or not, and his reply after a short pause, opens up interesting possibilities of questioning whether it is possible to conceive of absolute absence of such dominating structures even if one is far removed from so-called civilisation.
Pahari and Jharna sing a song which perhaps perfectly encapsulates Prasanta's state of mind. It must be mentioned here that Barua uses Tagore's compositions centrally in the film, almost as narrative tropes, a first of its kind effort which received immense appreciation when the film released.
Jharna has gradually become attached to Prasanta, despite a lack of encouragement on his part. The scene makes it quite clear in subtle ways, as Jharna sits down beside him, jovial and flippant at first, and then swiftly shifts to sit quite close to him, even though he seems uncomfortable at first by their sudden proximity. Then later, her song is an obviously direct address to Prasanta as she sings about a foreigner who has stolen her heart. Throughout the proceedings, in various points of the sequence, she looks around to check if they are being watched - a subtle reference to the forbidden or illicit nature of her desires with Pahari around them.
Her teasing does not go well with Prasanta who has progressively grown more annoyed and impatient.
Prasanta directly confronts Jharna about her desires though the latter refuses to rise to the bait at first. Her comments about the state of her relationship with Pahari is important here. It has already been established that people like them do not adhere to the moral codes that guides lives in civilised spaces. Hence, her candid admission that she is not married to Pahari, and being like the waterfalls she is named after, she is free to love whoever she desires to. In fact, his discomfort over her blatant admission is a subtle comment on the fact that even he perhaps is not entirely outside the moral codes he has so far fought against, even though in his own words it is the unreason and loss of sense in love that he seeks to avoid.
Sardar's sudden reappearance with the news of Pahari's arrival reaffirms his role as a disruptive and destructive element in this part of the narrative.
This is further highlighted by Sardar's comments about the nature of women and his deliberate attempt to rile Prasanta by showing him the picture of Chitra he had dropped earlier during their confrontation. Not surprisingly it works, though ultimately to Sardar's disadvantage when Prasanta shoots him. Much like the earlier confrontation, Prasanta's parting comment about the lack of laws and rules in the wilderness is significant given the classic hero and villain equation these two have been placed in.
Pahari, agitated by the incident, warns Prasanta of retaliation from Sardar.
Prasanta's reverie is broken by Jharna yet again. She sings another song that is meant to be a direct address to him, about how she feels the pain that is in his heart.
Prasanta confronts Jharna about coming so far away only to get water and she teasingly replies that it is because the water there is much sweeter.
Tired of Prasanta's evasiveness, Jharna's ploy to draw him nearer by faking a twisted ankle works for a while till he realises what she is upto and hastily drops her.
Sardar, out for vengeance, begins to influence Pahari, dropping various direct or subtle hints about Jharna and Prasanta. Though the latter is unwilling to give too much credence to these insinuations, what is noticeable are the subtle shifts in his demeanour that betray his reactions.
Wary of their earlier encounter, Prasanta tries a number of means to dissuade Jharna - showing her Chitra's photo, threatening to leave and finally telling her he does not love her. Jharna's final comment that he is only capable of causing grief is a stark reminder of when Chitra had said the exact same thing and underlines how, even in the wilderness, Prasanta is confronted by similar expectations.
Pahari enters immediately after and the marked change in his demeanour suggests that he has been affected by what Sardar has told him - something that Prasanta picks up too.
Ironically, Pahari accuses Prasanta in the name of same moral codes that the latter has always rejected - civility, education. Prasanta's earnest request for Pahari to believe in him is heightened by his admission that he has lost the trust of too many people in life to risk losing Pahari's too.
The sudden arrival of a baul (wandering bard), singing a song that reaffirms what Prasanta has just said, is a convenient and slightly implausible narrative trope used to instantly mend the rift between the two friends.
Chitra and Bipul are seen contemplating marriage. The scene begins with them comparing notes about Prasanta, with Bipul listing the negatives and Chitra turning all of them into positives. It is a rare serious moment for Bipul's character when he admits to his flaws but insists he loves her. It is also a singularly ironic moment because Chitra barely acknowledges his comment, instead admiting that for all practical purposes and according to all social expectations it is right that they should marry.
The tenor of the scene thus immediately shifts, with Bipul regressing to his usual boastful self when it becomes clear that the only person Chitra still loves is Prasanta.
A scathing comment on the globalised nature of certain dominant ideas of the time, Chitra cynically remarks that since blind devotion and love for one's husband is considered a flaw by women of Europe and America, the only true path to evolution would be to blindly follow these notions without any context. One possible context for such a comment could be the famous Matrimonial Causes Act of 1937 which liberalised diviorce laws in the UK in favour of women.
Chitra's attempt to talk to the woman who had been her husband's model is out of her own need to assuage her guilt-stricken conscience and to be sure about her decision to marry. The nurse realises this and lies and one can deduce why - if Chitra were to know that she had been wrong in her judgment of her husband, especially after he has apparently died because of it, it would perhaps break her.
An inter-title, in the form of a note almost like an authorial comment, that some time has passed.
Scenes of drinking and revelry at the inn. Prasanta has been seamlessly integrated into their society.
Pahari's song, almost literally, comes across first as a direct warning to Sardar and then an earnest request for Prasanta to return.
Yet again, the scene harks back to Devdas, with Jharna seeking to stop Prasanta's self-destructive slide and Pahari warning her of the futility of holding someone like him back. Prasanta's entry with the lament that he cannot seem to get drunk further emphasizes the reference. Prasanta's battles with his everyday has resulted in him gradually separating ties from everything, including his elephant.
In fact, since the elephant had symbolised the wilderness he had escaped to, the fact that he might be ready to leave even this necessitates that all his unresolved connections be brought back. The bellow of the elephant brings this point in focus and sets the narrative for the climax. Seeing the elephant hurt, Prasanta sets out to seek revenge and in the process is confronted by the past he had thought he had left behind. His gentle chastisement of the elephant that it should have retaliated speaks of his own state of mind.
Bipul and Chitra have gotten married eventually and have come to the same spot on a hunting trip with family. While Bipul is obviously shocked to see him, what is crucial is that Sardar is there too.
Prasanta comes back to see that his companion, the elephant, has died.
As mentioned before, the poems and tunes by Rabindranath Tagore that were used in the film were much appreciated. However, the one that received the maximum appreciation is this last song for which Pankaj Mullick created an original tune for the film. The song is about dusk, an obvious metaphor for death.
The next few scenes are a bit out of place in the scheme of things, especially since Bipul's idiocy has been commented on countless times before this. However, one must also keep in mind the fact that he is the only one here who knows that Prasanta is alive and thus, as the one with the most to lose if that were to be known, this scene perhaps has its own implications.
Sardar is clearly out for revenge, as he tries his best to steer the hunting party towards Prasanta's pet tusker, unaware that the animal has already been killed.
However, his plans significantly change when he sees Chitra and obviously recognises her from Prasanta's photograph.
Besides, Bipul's reactions amidst the wilderness is also something that drives home the fact as to how different he actually is from Prasanta.
The hunting scenes are established by long shots of the terrain as the party passes through the forest and the shots then gradually shorten to rapid cuts as the tusker appears and the hunt begins. The gradual build-up of violence in the past few scenes immediately sets the stage for the next scene.
Sardar, having deduced some sort of relationship between Prasanta and Chitra, has come and told her he is alive. As expected, a frantic Chitra immediately decides to go to him, facilitating his quest for vengeance.
One is not sure if Bipul has told Mr. Mullick about Prasanta, though that may have something to do with his eagerness to go away.
Confronted by Bipul and the presence of Chitra, Prasanta has begun to grow resentful of the judgment and censure that had driven him there.
Bipul and Mr. Mullick's arrival signals that Sardar has been successful in carrying out his plan to use Chitra to exact vengeance on Prasanta. Prasanta, deducing Sardar's plans, sets out in search. His parting words to Pahari and Jharna, bidding them goodbye, heighten the possibilities of a more permanent farewell.
With Prasanta going in search of Sardar and Chitra, Pahari decides to accompany his friend as well.
Sardar's real intentions are revealed to Chitra quite soon. The scene is shot mostly in shadows, and the rapid close-ups of their faces and the ambient forest sounds heighten the menace.
The Sardar's lair and the entire scene refers to the classic villain's lair archetype where the drunk villain has the heroine trapped in order to lure the hero in. The sidekick only adds to this archetype. Expectedly, the hero, here Prasanta, walks in and shoots the sidekick first.
Ironically, Sardar takes advantage of the fact that conventionally one would not attack an unarmed man, even though throughout the film Prasanta has constantly remarked that in the wilderness the rules are different. The quick shot of Sardar turning towards his dagger lays bare his intensions.
Prasanta has probably realised it too but goes to Chitra's aid.
Quick rapid shots of the Sardar, a hand reaching for a dagger, Pahari's close-up and his warning, the dagger thrown, and Sardar being shot; rapid cuts restrict all within the space of a few seconds to underline the suddenness of the incident.
The last scene of Mukti, posits Prasanta's death as the final expression of the freedom Chitra had demanded of him. We don't see him die but that can be easily deduced because otherwise the narrative cannot reach the sort of resolution it had been set up for since the first time Chitra makes the demand. In many ways, Chitra's question to Prasanta is entirely rhetorical - his complaint was both against her and the society she inhabited which rejected him because he did not wish to conform. The last scene reaffirms the inherent incompatibility between an artist's psyche and the world at large - even after having left the confines of society, their final act of freedom is possible only through death. One must also note that the image of the lover dying in the arms of his beloved because society and their own faults make it impossible for them to be together, is definitive of Devdas and would inform a lot of Barua's work.