Paanch Phoron (Five spice blend) is the latest offering in the bangla web series world of the Hoi Choi platform. 5 different directors tell 5 different stories to explore 5 different aspects of love, in a compact Season 1 of 5 episodes, each episode running between 30 to 45 minutes.
It may be good to acknowledge it outright that the trailer of the series practically does no justice to the series, I had almost rejected it through the trailer itself, but a few interesting casting choices led me to explore a couple of episodes, and given that I quite liked one of them, I decided to watch it all. Overall, its a mixed bag, but is still much more watchable than the average wannabe content of the bangla web series that we see on some of these platforms.
Here is a quick drill down of the various episodes in order of how I liked them (from most to least) and why:
Phoringer Bou | Director : Arka Ganguly
This is possibly the simplest of all the stories in the series and makes simplicity its core strength as it sets out to explore love and attachment through the eyes of an innocent little kid. The star of the story is the brilliant performance by Krittika Chakraborty playing a shy introverted girl, who lives in her own little world and suddenly gets an accidental new friend to share her space. Chini, her innocence, her intrigue, and her pain is all heart and is truly captivating. She is well supported by Rohit Samanta and Debaparna Chakraborty who play her loving parents. Writer Director Arka Ganguly does well overall to explore the purest flavor of love in his compact but heartfelt story without trying too hard. The background score is the other noteworthy aspect of this story that complements it beautifully.
Biroho Uttoron | Director : Touquir Ahmed
Based in Dhaka, this story explores pain and self induced solitude of an incomplete love story, and how closures are a must for life to move forward. The maturity of this story’s perspective and the graceful performance by Rawnak Hasan are the strengths of the short, that add an overall melancholic wrapper to this tale. I wish that Touquir Ahmed‘s overall writing was more consistent as Hasan’s performance though. Zakia Bari Momo as Hasan’s old flame also remains underwritten and somewhat rough on the edges to mellow down the impact of this story, from what it could have been otherwise. It still has its moments that speak to you in its own charming ways.
Gopone Prem Chharan | Director : Suman Mukhopadhyay
The most well written story of the series, this is a quirky take on how taking your love for granted can be far more powerful than taking your partner for granted, especially when time and affection being the biggest assets in a relationship have a lopsided equation. The easy flowing screenplay by Arijit Biswas is wonderfully complemented by a very organic performance by Anirban Bhattacharya. Jaya Ahsan appeared relatively stiff in comparison, though she is good in her own space. Vikram Chatterjee is apt in his character. We would like to see more of this Suman Mukhopadhyay in the future rather than some of his last films that were rather inconsequential.
Ekti Paati Premer Galpo | Director : Abhishek Saha
After the recent critical success of his directorial debut in Uronchondi, director Abhishek Saha along with writer Debesh Chattopadhyay present the most twisted story of love of the anthology here. They cast the young and talented Riddhi Sen as the central protagonist along with Rajnandini Paul, in a story that runs a non linear narrative to explore possibilities between two young minds. This short is most open to personal interpretations in a way, and ideally should have been one of the better stories in the mix, only if it had not tried too hard to stand out with too gimmicky a twist to really form a connect. A rather missed opportunity, this! Wanted to see Riddhi Sen in one of the better films of the series.
Lilith | Director : Dipankar Dipon
This is the second collaboration from Bangladesh in the series, and wants to experiment with relationships and artificial intelligence in a future era in a technologically advanced Bangladesh. With Siam Ahmed and Masuma Rahman Nabila in the lead, filmmaker Dipankar Dipon and writer Hasnat Bin Matin deal with the most abstract and decaying aspects of love in a future world in their film, where artificial intelligence seems to have taken over control of the basic human emotions. Unfortunately a rather experimental story is marred with the weakest writing and execution of the entire ensemble, and completely falls flat on its face to make any impact. The actors are not at fault but have very little with them to salvage the sketchy content.
So that was a quick recap of the 5 stories and what to expect from each of them. The good thing though is that each of the 5 shorts have their own distinct flavors and stand on their own. So some of them can definitely be consumed and enjoyed independently – they leave their own after taste to savor. Try it out, one or more flavors of love in Paanch Phoron will definitely spice up your palette to look forward to more in the next Season.
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