MITIN MASHI : Too Preachy, Too Inert, Too Simplistic

Arindam Sil knows the fascination of the cinema going Bengali with the thriller and mystery genre. He knows that even when he delivers rather mediocre to poor Byomkesh and Shabor films, they still sell like hot cake. So why not introduce another franchise of the ‘meye chhele turned mohila detective’ – he thought, add multiple bouts of self protective action sequences, dollops of preachy gyan to make Mitin the all out feminist crusader, and present her as the all powerful Dashabhuja during Pujo to ring merrily at the cash registers? After all, what else will the woke Bangali buy in to, more so because this may be the only clean entertainer available for full family community viewing during the festival! Chances are, his intuition will be proved right and the film will do brisk business, but Suchitra Bhattacharya‘s popular young adult series investigator Mitin Mashi demanded a much better film!

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RAJLOKKHI O SRIKANTO : Love that transcends beyond time and more…

It is often said that the most memorable cinematic experiences are often about how much we buy in and immerse ourselves into its make believe world. And when magical realism is the unifying driving theme of most films of the filmmaker in focus, you somewhat know that the make believe aspects of his latest film will be its key strength. You know that he will make the story breathe and will let you the space to interpret it in your own unique way without feeding it all in a platter.

It is also said that inspirations or adaptations can become more interesting, when the filmmaker infuses his own imagination and narration style to the source material, allowing for significant deviations to integrally sync up with the storytelling. Gulzar’s Ijaazat became such a classic because of the way he treated the original story idea of Jatugriha and brought in his own complexities. Quentin Tarantino is a master of altering the facts of history to create his own immersive cinematic world across films, be it The Inglourious Basterds or the very recent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The same can be said about national award winning filmmaker Pradipta Bhattacharya’s latest film Rajlokkhi o Srikanto, where he does take Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic source material for the base, but takes the film to a completely different space because of the deviations he takes and the narration style he chooses. The only thing that he possibly demands is your flexibility and patience to stay with him while he lays the foundation, so that the wings of magical realism can be built for us to take off on a flight of an immersive surreal experience.

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AHAA RE : The Lingering Aftertaste of Life

In one of the memorable sequences of Ahaa Re, expert chef from Dhaka and the protagonist of the film, Farhaz Choudhury, demonstrates how chocolate cake becomes a flavorful delicacy only when the senses of taste and smell work together in perfect conjunction. The specific finding is a new learning for the master home-cook Basundhara Ganguly. However, both of them know that the magic of food, just like love, works only when it finds its roots in the authentic ingredients; the passion and imagination to create something delectable is in full play; and when all the senses of taste, smell, touch and sight feel it in right proportions. Filmmaker Ranjan Ghosh is merely using this suggested expertise of the chefs to reiterate how a story when told with the right proportions of empathy, warmth, respect and soulful goodness, blended in a generous bout of subtle compassion, can become a beautiful love letter to life.

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SHANTILAL O PROJAPOTI ROHOSHYO : A Messy Transmutation

Shantilal o Projapoti Rohoshyo uses the butterfly in its name to seek metamorphosis into an end goal that isn’t what you expect it to be. The film’s name and the way it has been marketed throughout will build expectations of a taut and intense thriller for most viewers, which it is not. In fact, it never wanted to be one of that. Just like its protagonist Shantilal who is stuck in a line of journalism where he does not belong and always dreams of something bigger and more intense, the film also tries to fit into a genre that doesn’t do justice to its thought. Pratim D Gupta sets his aim to make a film about emotional and behavioral study of complex characters on much broader themes of dreams, marginalization and survival, with a constant subtext of hypocrisies rampant in the entertainment and journalism industries; but chooses a treatment garb of a thriller that somehow dilutes the overall impact significantly. It is one of those tricked cases of mismatched intent, expectations and execution.

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VINCI DA : A Thriller without Thrills

Vinci Da – Quick Take…

So I finally watched Vinci Da on Prime Video and thought it was one of the weakest films of Srijit Mukherji in 2018-19. It is a thriller without any thrill, and is predictable from start to end.

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JYESHTHOPUTRO : Melancholic Musings of Life

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When a film casts the biggest superstar and the best actor of Bengali cinema of our generation pitted against each other in life and in performing arts, and head on acknowledges who is the better actor of the two and how that is often not enough for success; it makes a bold and highly self-aware statement about hard facts of life without being worried about any repercussions. Also, when a film’s story-line builds on the everyday mundaneness of daily lives, and thrives on its organic but predictable conflicts without trying to force-fit anything just for the sake of drama; one has to again applaud the fearlessness and the sure-footed awareness of the story-teller about his ability to touch lives without an attempt to manipulate emotions. Kaushik Ganguly and his profound new film Jyeshthoputro are brilliant examples of such confident and restrained poignancy!

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TARIKH : The Refreshing Timeline of Emotions

Gulzar, in one of his reminiscences of Pancham, had once said..

Ye ghalat hain ki waqt guzar jaata hain.. Waqt, time eternal hain, permanent hain.. aur kabhi nahi guzarta.. Jo guzar jaata hain woh hum aur tum hain..”

In Churni Ganguly’s Tarikh, the three central characters Ani, Ira or Rudra could have easily said the same about life as it happens to them. The footprint that one creates during a lifetime on the minds and hearts of the near ones, or not so near ones, either in the real or virtual world’s timeline, becomes a permanent impression for life, even after people are long gone. The timeline hence gets frozen in eternity, and becomes a staggering documentation of what people stand for or cannot stand for in their lifetime – beliefs, fear, aspirations, insecurities, or passing emotions of joy, pain, envy, love, loss and everything in between.

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MUKHERJEE DAR BOU : Good Intent, Poor Execution, Forgettable Experience

Mukherjee Dar Bou is what happens when the intent of making a film about free spirited thinking against a regressive patriarchal backdrop gets terribly hampered by a writing style and character development heavily influenced by the daily bangla soaps of today! An important story about everyday women fighting their own insecurities and for their identities, while becoming the biggest enemies of each other as severely conditioned by the regressive societal upbringing and unconscious patriarchal thinking, gets completely lost in execution since debut filmmaker Pritha Chakraborty and writer Samragnee Bandopadhyay only know the over the top, theatrical and terribly cliched narration style to deliver their message. And it feels extremely sad when two women cannot shape the content about women in a dignified, poignant and effective way, and almost fall into the same trap of typical cliches that they want their protagonists to overcome and be victorious in life.

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BASU PARIBAR : Deep Wide Cracks

Basu Paribar, just like the traditional grand mansion of the family, wants to encash nostalgia and grandeur to make up for the lack of soul and attachment in the overall narrative. Just like the family in question, in spite of all the materialism on the surface, the deep wide cracks appear all over the cinematic narrative, and inspite of all the drama built up around dark forbidden secrets of the past, it never comes together as a unit to leave a lasting impact.

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FINALLY BHALOBASHA : Finally Goes Nowhere

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Chapter based hyperlink stories are nothing new to bangla cinema. Each of these chapters dealing with broken relationships, urban loneliness, existential crisis, or racing for peace against time is also nothing new. In fact we have see many of themes repeating regularly in Anjan Dutt‘s earlier films as well. So when he decides to package all these in a hyperlink format as three separate story tracks, and then tries to connect them all together in the final chapter called Finally Bhalobasha, it all appears like a forced gimmicky effort.

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