Daai : The World Of An Artist
Daai : The World Of An Artist
Towards the end of the story, working on the fence paying no heed to the sprinkling clouds, an upset Daai (which means uncle in English), when asked if he liked the girl he had gone to see replies with all his shattered hopes that who will give their daughter to someone like him. This is where the film completes a circle and we stand again at the same point from where we had started from. Daai, the titular character played to genuine sincerity and charm by Devi Borkotoky, is a man of wonder. As a generous being full of love and care and an undeniable commitment to the society, Daai is an artist, both in mind and spirit. From taking the lead in the village bhaonas (religious plays) and judging one-act plays in various competitions to taking up a stand for social changes, his life is incomplete without singing to himself while cutting the grass and reciting bhaona boson (dialogues from plays) while working in the field.
This emotional soul contended with his little ownership and never ever demanding against whatever life has offered is however hold back by his widowed sister-in-law’s concerns and worries about him. The inability to get a job, sit for a marriage and make more productive use of life are some harsh reminders that are constantly thrown at him every time he expresses his dependence on her.
Breathing art and living art, Daai is strong enough in his morals and commitment that he pays no heed to the curses thrown at him from the darkest corner of the night and handles the public opposition to his progressive stand for women participation in the bhaonas in a very balanced and wise manner. However, it’s the indirect taunts and jeers hurled at him to fill that incomplete sphere of his life that weakens him. He is reluctant but also unsure if his possessions are sufficient to make his life complete. The constant humiliations have forced him to realize the emptiness in his life. This helplessness in him is carefully captured in a number of ways by writer-director Monoj Borkotoky. It ranges from his modest resistance to a suggestion to seek out a prospective bride to venting out his disappointment with himself by playing the khol (a two-sided drum) later.
Daai is an endearing journey of a man who is trying to find his place in the society largely unappreciative of his methods. This character has walked many miles in the road seldom taken and therefore a no better way to open the film than with shots of his fast steps hurrying for home. Maybe it is time he comes home for what home means. Therefore, disregarding all his inhibitions and regards for age, he gives in to the imposed idea of a complete life. But however, life doesn’t want to take him away from his ideals. After being unable to fill the void in his life, he laments living for the cause of art and an unrewarding service to the society. Failing to realize his own importance he also grieves his lack of a material life. This is where the circular structure of the film completes a round and we are again left with a doubtful and emotionally fragile self in an otherwise humble and strong man.
As he sings with regret now, he finds a new meaning in art and being an artist which makes this remorse different from his previously unsure choices in life. The dusky sky has brought the day to an end but not to his life. Using darkness as a source of his upliftment and a factor in his new found motivation, the film proudly highlights the unabated struggle of artists at various points in their life. Daai is a beautiful ode to art, unsung artists and the loneliness that surrounds them, told with great affection and poignancy. The emptiness is brought out in lonely frames of Daai doing the chores, tilling the land and contemplating life where he shines throughout. The role of nature, the weather in particular, in bringing out the emotions and shades of the scenes is also a carefully thought out highlight of the film. The rain, to reflect loss and mourning, a bright sun for the lively spirit, are instances where the weather is used to translate different moods.
If tragedy inhibits the creation of art, Daai’s tragedy is hidden in plain sight. His grief and the feeling of social inferiority is carefully conceded by his vigour for creativity and isn’t expressed otherwise. With Bhupen Hazarika’s modarore ful henu as Daai’s song of life, the short film about finding sweetness in adversity is a fitting tribute to Jyotiprasad Agarwala’s Xilpir Prithivi where he philosophize that every person is an artist in their own way struggling to turn their dreams into reality in a world which too was once a dream. We are not complete until we realize the artist within us.