aaj ki chai is from this scene in tapan sinha’s ek doctor ki maut (1990). shabana azmi’s understated but poignant performance as seema, the wife of a brilliant doctor whose single obsession with his research brings selfishness and callousness to his marriage is so visceral, especially in small moments like this one. seema fries puris and make two cups of tea as she waits for her husband to come home, a familiar scene in the homes of many, especially within india. her husband talks about his research, the people he met, and lists all his complaints for the day before being cajoled into sitting at the dinner table. she serves the tea and the plate of puris and sits by his side, shoulder to shoulder, as a companion. then she talks about her conversation with her sister while gently reprimanding her husband for never calling those relatives back. he agrees to please her and then quickly grabs his cup of tea and two puris to leave for his lab. and seema! shocked and baffled, she tells him she’s not yet finished with her tea only to hear that familiar indifference–”then finish it”. and shabana azmi with all the subtlety she’s know for, moves from shock to bitter acceptance and then quickly back to the briefest expression of hurt.
and she drinks her cup of tea alone.
one thing i like about tapan sinha’s work in this film is that seema is her own person, not the archetype of a wife in indian films (even noncommercial ones) who only exists to mutely support and share the burden of her husband’s dreams. later in the film she expresses how that callousness feels and affects her, especially against the expectations of what she thought their marriage would be like–one in which she is cared for, one in which there is companionship. i feel like i know too many women in marriages who drink their cup of tea alone. or put too much hope into what differences a cup of tea can bridge.
“Please man, I beg you, don’t write about what I’m about to do,” says Colin Farrell, standing over an Apple laptop in his kitchen. It is 1.30am and we are approaching the end of an interview that has lasted the best part of half a day - one that has included a couple of hours with us both practically naked and smeared in honey in a Russian bathhouse, and enough revelations about drink, women and extreme drug abuse to make your hair stand on end, turn white and then fall out - so I am intrigued to know what is coming next. He opens his web browser and pulls up Google before carefully typing, one finger at a time, “Colin Farrell” into the search panel. “I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was bored the other day and I looked up my name. Who am I kidding? I do it all the time. Anyway, I want to show you this photo.”