Music Teacher is a story of a tussle between ambition and denial
Success has several fathers, failure is an orphan. We've heard this through the centuries. But ask Manav Kaul and he will tell you the life of a loser will always make a better story than that of an achiever. And that's why he chose to play Beni Madhav Singh in the Netflix film Music Teacher.
Co-written by director Sarthak Dasgupta, Music Teacher is the story of a small town singer who dreams of making it big in Mumbai someday. Beni is the son of a known musician and quite confident in his skills, bordering slightly on arrogance.
However, call it laziness, lack of drive or simply the restricted life of a middle class man, he somehow transfers his ambitions to a young girl, Jyotsna (Amrita Bagchi). Jyotsna feeds this arrogance by being smitten with Beni himself, rather than his proficiency in music. Beni who at one level sees her as his big easy ticket out of the hill town of Shimla, at another he genuinely wants her to be the star she is capable of.
Watching him shuttle between his longing and the frustrations of caring for his family, you wonder who Beni Madhav really is? After eight years of forcing her to go to Mumbai, is he jealous of and angry at the homecoming star or is it disappointment in himself for doing nothing more than singing retro songs at the local club or teaching music for peanuts?
There's always time to be a couple, Beni scolds Jyotsna when she tells him she doesn't want to be a star but to be his wife. He thinks that because she's found her way into the industry, she'll bring him in to. But it's never clear why he didn't leave Shimla. There are so many layers to Beni, it's difficult to see him as onedimensional, Kaul told Mail Today.
Yes, it's about disappointment, it's about not doing what he wanted to do, it's about the love he feels for Jyotsna but always suppresses. There are several layers to Beni denial, suppression, wanting, longing Kaul, who'd just featured in the reprisal of Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai when Music Teacher was released, feels it's always better to play a loser than an achiever. He, however, disagrees that the angst Beni is feeling is similar to what Albert did. I think the soul [of both characters] is absolutely different. Albert leaves his girlfriend and the film is about social, political issues in the country that he's disappointed in and he does something really violent.
Here, Beni wants to be with Jyotsna, even his failure is his own he can't blame it on anyone, said the Kai Po Che actor. Yet Kaul concurs that Beni is a bigger loser when it comes to love. Neither does he understand Jyotsna's adoration for him or realise the love his neighbour Geeta feels for him. In fact Geeta plays the catalyst in his miserable life that not just pulls him off his denial but alleviates him out of his disappointment in himself. That's exactly what Geeta does. She's a lonely woman deserted by her husband, said Divya Dutta, who plays Geeta.
She's very vulnerable, living with and caring for a blind father-in-law, when suddenly Beni walks into her life as a breath of fresh air, she sees him as someone she can talk to, relate to. And there is attraction, of course. She finds some kind of a soothing comfort in his company. Somewhere she also hopes that some day he might marry her. But, Dutta said you don't get into relationships to gain anything. It's only to find some completeness in yourself. Everyone needs someone in life. I'm an independent, successful woman and would want someone. Similarly, Geeta sees Beni. She's there for him both physically and emotionally.