He is a Mahara-shtrian, living in Andhra Pradesh, writing Hindi books with Farsi titles. While you try to figure this out, Goutam Ghose’s Yatra keeps getting derailed at several places.
In the process of deciphering a writer’s imagination that moves between fact and fiction, Ghose goes almost breathless with an anti-consumerism message. The writer Dashrath Joglekar (Nana Patekar — distracted), on his way to Delhi to receive an award, meets a filmmaker (Nakul Vaid) and they get talking. Dashrath flashbacks to his novel Janaza, in which an alter ego, gets involved in the life of a courtesan Lajwanti (Rekha). She has been raped by her patron’s friends, and has nowhere to go. When the patron’s men threaten the family, he takes her to Hyderabad’s red light area, where she is presumably happy.
At the awards function, ironically sponsored by a steel company (is corporate support for culture even a big issue any more?), Dashrath gives a big speech against the evils of materialism–which is the literal bit. At a more abstract level, Ghose’s (or Dashrath’s) ideas keep popping in as sudden inserts– random scenes about identity-eroding BPO culture, a callous media, the dangers of the MMS enabled cell phone, farmer suicides and so on.
All of this vaguely connects to Dashrath’s life/ art, when he ignores his wife (Deepti Naval–competent) and kids to take his trophy to Lajwanti, who he has presumably not met after he left her at the bordello. She takes a break in her classical music riyaaz to do a raunchy bar dance like dance number for a bunch of drunk men–which is probably meant as a criticism of Bollywood destroying the classical arts.
Dashrath’s time at Lajwanti’s house gets increasingly bizarre, and the film ends on an inconclusive note–the whole experience leaving the viewer befuddled and emotionally indifferent. Rekha has played the tawaif so often, she moves from Munnibai to Umrao Jaan with languid ease and offers no surprises; however, her spark saves the film from fizzling out completely.
Ghose has made some very powerful films in the past like Dakhal, Paar and Antarjali Yatra — here his desire for making a profound statement and reaching a wider audience makes him stumble and fall between two stools. Those looking for the Goutam Ghose kind of cinema will be disappointed, a new audience not exposed to his work will be unforgiving.