Indian movie '15 Park Avenue' is a touching film with a sensitive subject. It is a film that will appeal to selected audience, not the masses. The movie is slow paced and the culmination to the story is open-ended.
Synopsis of '15, Park avenue'
The story of the Indian film '15, Park Avenue' revolves around the tale of two sisters Anjali and Mitali - Anu and Meethi as they are called affectionately at home. Anu played by Shabana Azmi is a professor. She is a divorcee who gives up the chance to go to Princeton University with her colleague Sanjeev played by Kanwaljeet, who is interested in her but unable to take on the responsibility of her schizophrenic sister. Mithi played Konkona Sen Sharma suffers from schizophrenia. She lives in a delusional world that she conjures up in her imaginations. A part of Mithi's imaginary world is her husband Jojo and her children who live at 15 Park Avenue. She is searching for the address, but can't find it anywhere.
Anjali and her brother Mahesh are their mother Rewa's played by Waheeda Rehman children from her first marriage to Col. Mathur who had died soon after Mahesh was born. Rewa had brought up her two small children with the help of her late husband's friend who is a bachelor by the name of Brigadier Sunil Mathur played by Saumitra Chatterjee. Later, Rewa marries Sunil who has been a good surrogate father to Anjali and Mahesh. Mitali affectionately called Mithi had been born later. She was the baby of the family, eighteen years younger than Anjali and thirteen years younger than Mahesh.
Anjali marries quite early but soon gets divorced and comes back to her home. Anjali is brilliant at studies. She is a professor of Physics at a noted university in Calcutta and a writer of repute in her field. Mahesh is also quite successful in the corporate world and lives separately with his wife Padma, their eight year-old twins Samir and Shreya and newborn daughter Shalini. Mitali, the youngest, is the most unfortunate of Rewa's three children.
Whether it was because of Rewa's late pregnancy at the age of forty or simply as a result of some genetic quirk, Mitali or Meethi turns out to be mentally and physically challenged. She suffers both from chronic schizophrenia and epilepsy. In spite of her illness, Meethi has been quite functional up to her early twenties. She eventually gets engaged to a young man called Joydeep or Jojo, as she called him. The family, more specifically Meethi's elder sister Anu was against to the engagement at first because of Meethi's medical problems but had finally gives up with good grace. There is a huge engagement ceremony, more like a wedding than an engagement.
The story goes on. Meethi, who is working for a publishing house as a journalist, goes by herself on a journalistic assignment outside Calcutta where political goons had raped her repeatedly. This incident had acted as a trigger for Meethi's schizophrenia. Joydeep who was only twenty-six at that time, was unable to relate to Meethi any longer and breaks off the engagement. Meethi becomes depressive to the point of being suicidal and to be put away in a home for the mentally ill for a while. When she comes back home she becomes completely changed. She now lives in a delusional world where she is married to Jojo and stranger to the fact Mrs. Joydeep Ray with five children of her own. She believes that she lives with her husband and children at 15 Park Avenue and always insists on being taken to look for her house, which she could never find.
After Sunil died, Anu becomes the sole caretaker to her widowed mother and schizophrenic sister Mithi. As a result Anu becomes a much-stressed individual and Meethi's doctor Kunal Barua advised her to take a break from work. He asks her to go away for a holiday far from her stressful city to a place where the air is pure and the climate is healthy. As a result Anu, Meethi, their mother Rewa and Meethi's attendant Charu come to Bhutan for the prescribed holiday. By a strange co-incidence Joydeep also comes here with his wife Lakshmi played by Shefali Chayya and their two children. He sees Meethi quiet unexpectedly while they are out for sightseeing. He gets completely shattered at the change he sees in her. He cannot get rid of his feelings of guilt and follows Anu and Meethi to their rented cottage. Anu is stunned to see him and struggles a lot to control the feelings of intense resentment that welled up inside her. She also becomes worried thinking of Meethi for whom she feels motherly affection. But strangely, Meethi did not recognize him at all. She continues to call him Mr. Roy after she is introduced to him. She never thinks that this man is in fact her beloved Jojo.
Meethi became quite friendly with Joydeep who keeps coming over to their cottage. She entreats him to help her find her house at 15 Park Avenue and to help her get away from her sister whom she imagined to be completely tyrannical. Joydeep feels miserable. He feels like a bigamist who is in a strange situation of living happily married to a woman he loves and with whom he has two children. Yet another woman is there who believes she is married to him and whose world with him is totally real to her. Joydeep is in a dilemma of doing what. Should he go with her to look for 15 Park Avenue after they return to Calcutta? They will not be able to find the house, of course as because no such house exists except in Meethi's imagination. In fact, there is no Park Avenue on the map of Calcutta. But again he thinks if he does not go he would be letting Meethi down for the second time.
Eventually all of them return to Calcutta and Mithi Keeps continuing her search of 15, Park Avenue. Sometimes accompanying with Mr. Roy, sometimes without.
Guilt is a predominant colour in the landscape of this movie, depicted in the persona of every character, be it Anu, Joydeep or Mrs. Rewa Mathur. Logical or illogical it is in the background of this tale of reality, illusion and the thin line between the two.
Cast and Crew of '15, Park Avenue'
The star cast of the Indian film '15, Park Avenue' includes Konkona Sen Sharma, Shabana Azmi, Soumitra Chatterjee, Waheeda Rahman, Rahul Bose, Dhritiman Chatterji, Shefali Chhaya, and Kanwaljeet Singh. The film is directed by Aparna Sen while it is produced by Bipin Vohra. Story and Screenplay of the film is written by Aparna Sen, Hemant Chaturvedi did the camera work.