26th June 2020

Rasbhari Is A Delightful Romp Into Sexual Awakening!

Rasbhari(Amazon)

Starring  Swara Bhaskar, Ayushman  Saxena, Pradhuman Singh

Directed  by  Nikhil Bhat

Rating: ****(4 stars)

Imagine –and imagination  plays a pivotal part   in this  provocative coming-of-age  series—if Sushmita Sen  , the  sexy teacher in Main Hoon Na walked out of Farha Khan’s  neverland  to land in Meerut  to teach English in a school filled with  curious adolescents of both sexes.

  Rashbhari walks on that thin line  between  erotic and sleazy .It succeeds in making  the   theme of sexaual  awakening stimulating and  graceful. Of course it helps that  the  actors are fully into it,so much so that they seem  to have reached the location long before the screenplay was written.

Swara Bhaskar is  sure  to  give her right-wing fans goosebumps in her part as  the  seductive educationist whose  approach  to teaching is  wildly con-conformist. She  provides lessons to her students far  beyond her classroom.  In  a sequence that is bound to raise  more eyebrows Swara’s teacher  educates the film’s young hero Nand(Ayushman  Saxena) and his  girlfriend  (RashmiAgdekar) in the art  of  foreplay.

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 But  here’s the thing. A sequence such as  above , or the one where Nandu goes  to a prostitute to  lose his virginity  only to discover that  ‘she’ is  a transgender,   is done not to shock us or  sensationalize the subject  of  sexual objectification  . The theme   of student-fantasy and the  impact  a  beautiful sophisticated women  has on the  small town, is  captured  with  ease fluency  warmth and humour.

 Writer  Shantanu Shrivastava and director Nikhil  Bhat  never forego the basic dignity and grace of  the  characters even when their libido is doing all the talking. There is a  sequence where   Nand and his  father (the ever-dependable Chittaranjan Tripthy) argue  outside  the teacher’s door about wasting time and money on tuition. The minute she opens the door the father is putty in  in the teacher’s   hand.

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Interestingly  the  writer invents a  saucy doppelganger for Shanoo,  a tawaif from the past ‘Rasbhari’   who is so  unabashed in her sexual  advances  she  makes the pleasure  of  verbal  intercourse sound like  sexual intercourse. Swara  is  equally adept playing both  the parts making sure not to  go overboard with the sexual suggestions in either avatar.

 The  writing goes a long  way  in controlling the  film’s titillating  flavour  from going out of control. Though at times  the  plot tends to get somewhat bloated with self-importance(check out  the  film’s unspoken critique against moral  policing)  Rasbhari is remarkably tempered  in tone avoiding an aggressive  style of storytelling to let  the  characters grow with the  flow.

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What comes across strongly  is  the woman’s right to be what she is, to wear what she wants  and  go where her  heart takes  her without slotting her as a slut. There are brief pre-credit flashbacks  into  Shanoo’s  childhood where  her  brother is  shown  to be  instinctively favoured  by  her parents.  Somewhere the rebellious streak in a woman  is shown to  colour not the woman’s life but the live of those she  touches.

Quite  literally.

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