A simple yet touching movie, The Japanese Wife directed by Aparna Sen is a beautiful love story revolving around a young village school teacher who falls in love with his Japanese pen friend, Miyage. The lead characters are played by Rahul Bose and Chigusa respectively. They marry and remain true and loyal to each other even though they never meet. The movie is based on the book by the same title written by the Bengali Indian author Kunal Basu and was released in April 2010. The movie is beautifully shot in the virgin areas of the Sunderbans in Kolkata and the Japanese cities of Yokohama, Tsukuba and Ibaraki.
The movie has a handful of characters; namely Snehamoy Chatterjee a simple, shy but rustic arithmetic teacher played by Rahul Bose. There is Moushumi Chatterjee , Snehamoy’s maashi (aunt) who has brought him up. She is like a tender coconut, soft in the inside but hard on the outside. Sandhya, a widow played by Raima Sen, who comes to live with Snehamoy and his maashi, her son Fatik played by Rudranil Ghosh and the Snehamoy’s Japenese wife Miyage.
Snehamoy and Miyage keeps exchanging letters for a period of fifteen years and in between they also exchange wedding vows but they never meet. This unusual relationship comes under a cloud when Sandhya comes to live with Snehamoy and his aunt after the death of her husband along with her son.. A different kind of a relationship develops between the two, based on understanding and care. A strong bond of affection also starts to form between Fatik, Sandhya’s son and Snehamoy. Meanwhile Miyage gets cancer. While Snehamoy takes leave from his work to find a cure for his wife as Miyage informs him that she maybe dying, the story reaches an unexpected climax. Although both Snehamoy and Miyage make several efforts on their part to meet with each other, financial problems and of the illness of Miyage’s mother prevents both of them from ever seeing each other.
The acting by Rahul Bose and Raima Sen is truly amazing. Moushumi Chatterjee as the maashi also does a very fine job. You are bound to like her in spite of her rough exterior and Chigusa Takaku brims with innocence and simplicity throughout the movie.
Though certain parts of the movie like the kite flying competition seemed irrelevant, they helped to bring in the fun element. The only things that keeps you from getting bored owing to the slow pace of the film is Bose’s spellbinding performance.. Also, what remains a mystery is how Snehamoy and Miyage become pen friends.
Yet the entire movie is like mellifluous poetry with breathtaking camera shots which calm the senses and beautiful background music. Cinematographer Anay Goswami deserves accolades for painting the screen with magical landscapes. The movie is an emotional experience and brings an inexplicable peace to the mind.