The new Netflix film Music Teacher reverberates with echoes from the past that scream about regrets, incompleteness, and pangs of unrequited love in its silences. Directed by Sarthak Dasgupta, and co-written by Dasgupta and Gaurav Sharma (dialogues), the film tells a visually lyrical story about how a failed music teacher confronts his demons from the past at every step, and is torn up internally by his realities of not getting anywhere in life while being bogged down by the astounding success of his own protege against her will, and losing her in the process.
Aesthetically shot in the picturesque locations of a hill town that identifies itself as Shimla, the story is about how often the weight of unfulfilled ambitions in our lives pushes us to take certain impulsive decisions, and then the resultant ego and regret takes away every other passion of life. Somewhere, it tells us that everyone is a loner in some way or the other, so sometimes you just have to listen to the calling of your heart and grab that moment of happiness with both hands. It also talks about the fact that the only way to make peace with life and move on is to gather the courage to face the demons, release the tap on internal regrets to come out, and then possibly search for new tomorrows.
There are two protagonists in the film who stand for two different shades of the above story in their unique situations. At the center of it is the titular character Beni Madhav Singh (played sincerely by Manav Kaul, although the complex character needed a more nuanced performance and possibly an actor with a more refined craft) dealing with a broken relationship of eight years, and struggling with his responsibilities. His student Jyotsna (a lovely Amrita Bagchi) has reached the pinnacle of success now, something she never aspired for, and something that has left her unhappy for life. Beni’s mother (Neena Gupta, on point as usual, but casting her as Kaul’s mother didn’t feel right, visually or otherwise) and his sister Urmi (Niharika Dutt) are witnesses of his struggle with self, but can only do so much to change the situation for him.
As Beni’s alter ego is his neighbour Geeta, who is coming out of a broken marriage and is trying to put life back together by stealing moments from it at her own terms. The ever reliable Divya Dutta does a fine job to communicate the pangs of Geeta, and perhaps acts as the catalyst of Beni’s life to seek redemption, while dealing with her own pain in her silent strength. Its a tragedy that we don’t get to see Dutta more often in front of the camera.
For the film that needs to work totally on emotions, the writing isn’t particularly strong, and some of the writing especially on Beni’s character arc is clumsy and jarring. The film does much better to tell its visual story though and Kaushik Mondal shines through his camera work. The serenity of the hilly town and the calmness of the night shots adds to the poignancy of the atmospherics. The music is decently integrated too and further helps to enhance the mood of the film. Ek mod tu mili is beautifully composed by Rochak Kohli and Neeti Mohan‘s version especially stays with you.
With all this coming together and more, Music Teacher becomes a decently watchable slow burner. Yes, with its premise and potential it could have been a lot more, but perhaps it wants to imbibe the story it tells as its own identity – a good entity with untapped potential living with the regrets of could haves of life, but the goodness doesn’t go unnoticed!