Ukranian filmmaker Dar Gai‘s (Daria Gaikalova) first Indian film (released for festivals in 2017, but finding its wider digital release only now in 2019 on Netflix) Teen aur Aadha has an interesting film premise when a house, more specifically a room, becomes a constant character across three different stories along its maturing timeline, with almost a common theme of central characters in each story wanting to break free off the confines of the same room. It becomes even more interesting when the each of the three stories are shot as continuous forty minutes long shots each without any cuts, as if trying to follow the arc of the protagonists up close.
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!
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.
In one of the defining scenes of Kalank, Roop breaks the fourth wall and throws a question back to the audience to know “To aapne is kahaani me kya dekha – Kalank ya Mohabbat? ” I wish she could hear me saying “Kaash kuchh to dikh jaata..”
And that in a nutshell is Kalank for me – a colossal disappointment as grand and as empty as the world it creates.
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.
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.
In Abhiroop Basu‘s short film titled Meal, silence speaks the language of chaos, decay, and overall societal disintegration. We meet a loveless family of four that is struggling to get over an abusive domestic situation in their own ways. They don’t exchange a single word between themselves, but their anger, pain and everything falling apart around them is evoked through a series of very strong visuals of a chaotic household. In a way, this home in focus is also a derivative of the society at large that is the victim of the widespread communal hatred and looming violence – as we hear echoing from the radio bulletin in the background.
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.
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.
In the most simplistic terms, Kia and Cosmos, the debut feature film by Sudipto Roy is the coming-of-age story of a young autistic girl who has a far from perfect life and wants to get to the truth and only that in her own capacity. But watch closely and patiently, and this beautiful film is so much more than that.