IN SEARCH OF TRUTH by RANADIP MANDAL

Directed by Ranadip Mandal / Reviewed by Biplab Das

Arthur Schopenhauer once famously said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”. Since the dawn of human civilization, men are in continuous search for truth. Philosophers, writers, and artists have always tried to find the path to reach truth.

In Satyer Sandhane – In Search of Truth, directed by Ranadip Mandal, the protagonist of the film is a well-built man in his 40s obsessed to find the meaning of truth. The protagonist, an unnamed man, who looks grim and tired, believes in finding truth in books. The introductory title card uses the sound of tabla and bugle as background score, implying a connection to India. The first scene of the movie introduces our protagonist standing in front of a window, presumably his home which has a closet full of books hinting his erudition, looking outside. The sound of passing of tram makes him alert; he tries to locate something for a second or two but fails to see anything apart from a torn kite. His dejected body language suggests he fails to see what he was searching for.

Our protagonist is fond of reading which leads him to spend a considerable amount of time at the library. At the library, he mistakenly picks up Doctor Faustus written by Christopher Marlowe which is really interesting. Doctor Faustus is a fictional character who got bored with conventional way of seeking
knowledge and asked his friends to teach magic. After learning magic, Doctor Faustus summoned a devil named Mephistopheles to whom Faustus makes an offer to exchange his soul with 24 years of Mephistopheles’s knowledge. Mephistopheles accepted the offer and answered all the Faustus’s questions relating to world but refuses to answer who created the universe.

Now coming back to the film, after returning the book back to the shelf, the man starts to read a book on women empowerment which prompts him to bring out an exercise copy filled with philosophical and societal questions. He answers all the questions satisfactorily which leads him to the world of thinking. Flashback takes back as our protagonist began his day very early at the library to pen the answer what is truth but fails to do it. Back to present, late in the afternoon, he is still thinking deep. He opens ‘The Ramayana’ and flips through the pages as if he is trying to find something. While this going on, the
background music changes with the sound of beating of dhol. A man, wearing a short red-colored dhoti with bangles on feet, holding a Goda- the customary weapon of Hindu god- Hanuman, enters the library. The semi-bald, fat guy, appears to be Hanuman, approaches to our protagonist and hails him as Faustus which our protagonist denies immediately. Hearing his denial, the Hanuman proclaims he is neither Mephistopheles but knows the path of finding truth making our protagonist excited who declared to pay any price for it. But in return, the Hanuman demands only potato fritters and a cup of tea, probably
showing his communist side. Our protagonist leaves the room to arrange it. After his arrival our protagonist didn’t find the Hanuman but discovers a note bearing the instruction to go to the roof.

Our protagonist reaches to the roof immediately and finds a lamp. Suddenly the Arabian tunes start playing in the background implying the lamp’s connection to Aladin & the Magic Lamp. Our protagonist starts to rub the lamp with the hope of the gene’s emergence. But poor him – nothing comes out. He opens the lid of the lamp and discovers a red cloth which he unclothes and ends up finding only ashes. Initially, he looks bemused but the fluttering of ashes in air changes his facial expression. He looks to the sky as if he understands the meaning of truth.

The film is a psychological journey of a man who is in search of truth but at the end finds nothing but ashes as Hindus believe in burning of body to end a person’s connection to material world. The director tries to hint that death is the only certain truth in human life.

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