By Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer
In the past few years, Netflix has been a platform for an array of unique and original films. The Music Teacher is no exception from this. This Indian film is one of the many foreign films that Netflix produced. The film portrays its characters in a realistic light and it’s easy to empathize with most of them.
Their personal tragedies involve relationship dynamics and it comments on the negative aspects of the cultural normative in Indian society.
The story of the film focuses on the later life of Beni Madhav Singh, who is fed up with being stuck in the remote hills, living with his mother and daughter. He is bitter and depressed as he tries to make a living with his seemingly unsuccessful career. Throughout his efforts, he is haunted by the major success of his ex-pupil Jyotsna Ray, who left for Bollywood eight years prior. While this greatly improved Beni’s reputation, he is frustrated that his ex-pupil is more recognized than his actual talent as a musician. He was romantically interested in her, making her departure a devastating event which continuously haunts him.
The film serves as a character study for Beni and his complex character warrants this. He’s incredibly guilty that he pushed Jyotsna in the direction that he did since his motivations were incredibly selfish. Beni pushes Jyotsna towards a flashy career in music in hopes that his stardom may also be discovered. He wants her to move her career to Mumbai, not only to further her career but his own as well. This haunts him later in life, since he is only well-known for being the teacher of a famous singer.
While Beni has his eyes on the money, Jyotsna has her eyes on his love. Throughout Beni’s teachings, she states that she doesn’t want to be famous, let alone have a career in singing. Instead, she would rather marry Beni and live out their lives in the hills in which they call home. When she expresses this to him, he reacts angrily, stating that the offers that she receives are only granted to those of true talent. Even though he praises her beyond belief, Jyotsna isn’t satisfied with this.
She is even forced into a singing competition after Beni argues that the opportunity is essential to her success. This comes to a climax when Jyotsna receives the offer in Mumbai that Beni was hoping for. In a final attempt, she asks Beni to marry her, yet all he can think of is the opportunity that they would miss. As she leaves with her mind made up, Beni asks if she can promote his music to certain managers, illustrating his selfish nature.
The Music Teacher utilizes the filming location to its extent. The unique landscapes and structures make scenes incredibly captivating. An example of this lies at the beginning of the film, where Beni contemplates smoking a cigarette while standing on a hillside cliff which descends into an array of trees and streams. The scale of the environment is absolutely breathtaking. The film also utilizes the customs of the country which adds to its unique feel. Geeta, a love interest of Beni, is a character that is directly affected.
Her husband’s departure has left her in a home that she can’t afford without having money sent to her. She can’t get a job because of the society’s standards. The failure of their marriage derives from the fact that it was arranged, which conflicts Beni since his daughter is soon to be wed.
Overall, The Music Teacher is a slower movie. But, as a result, it’s able to take its time developing fleshed out yet flawed characters. It depicts an unlikely romance and manages to not be overdramatic or unrealistic. Since it’s set in India, it allows the film to go as far as taking a stance on cultural dilemmas that still exist today. This is definitely an example of the unique aspects that foreign films have to offer.