STORY : Joydeep (Soham) sets out on a nostalgic journey ahead of his wedding, inviting his first love Priya (Priyanka) from Santiniketan, his college flame Sayoni (Aindrita) from Kalimpong and friends he made in his lifetime.
REVIEW : Amar Aponjon is the love story of Joydeep — a die-hard romantic who finds love in every town or city life takes him to. No wonder, his ‘aponjon’ mostly comprise his former flames and a smattering of school and college friends. The film is mostly about pleasant times, scarred by short bouts of heartbreak.
In times when everywhere you look, there’s violence and disrespect for women and fellow humans, such films are always a welcome break. And I’m not saying that off hand. Joydeep is a passionate man, who deeply feels for every person who’s close to him. When he moves on, he doesn’t leave a trail of hate or malice; his love always begets love — even when destiny forces him to leave his past behind. That, despite him being a hopeless romantic, leaves you with a good feeling, which is always welcome.
Soham has done a really good job of what the script demanded of him. His expressions are bang on, especially when he plays a college student deeply enamoured of his classmate, Sayoni. Even in scenes where he’s heartbroken, or when feels deeply for his ‘aponjon’ he manages to manifest the right emotions to perfection. Yes, he doesn’t nail that college-going lad look, but that’s bound to be a tad difficult with his physique. But he manages to make up for that with his acting. On the other hand, Priyanka looks every bit the schoolgirl she plays with such elan. In fact, Aindrita and Subhashree also stand true to their characters, managing to deliver precise expressions, especially in scenes that demand precise expressions to define the emotions running within them. But credit for that should also go to director Raja Chanda. He has managed to steer the ship with finesse, though the twist at the end is a bit confusing and could have been done without. And yes, the only glaring glitch in an otherwise smooth storyline is the lack of a police action element in the scenes after Joydeep and his parents are roughed up by goons led by a guy who also loves Sayoni and, apparently, marries her by force. So, why doesn’t even Sayoni’s father, who seems to a well-established individual in Kalimpong, initiate action against the goons? Neither does Joydeep’s father (Shantilal) seem interested in any action; just in running away from the hill town. Is that guy the son of someone very powerful? That’s something we can only guess, because the storyline establishes nothing on those lines. But still, it doesn’t take much away from the flow of the story; it just seems a bit odd in today’s time and age and should have been kept in mind.
Overall, Amar Aponjon is surely worth a watch. It’s a romance through and through, but without the usual mush and the done-to-death SRK-style-hand-spread song and dance sequence. It’s a down-to-earth tale of a guy who finally ties the knot. With whom? Go, find out.
STORY : Self-made hotelier and playboy Aditya Roy Chowdhury (Ankush) falls for Esha (Nusrat) and employs her in his resort, which he runs with his best friend, Prachi (Sayantika). Things go fine till Esha’s past meddles with their present.
REVIEW : There are times when a remake can touch an emotional chord despite obvious disregard for cultural and geographical differences between Bengal and the film’s place of origin. Ami Je Ke Tomar is strong proof of that.
It’s really a good watch; an emotional one, rather. It’s one of those films that tend to touch your romantic nerve and keep you glued to your seat till the end. Hats off to the script for that (the original, I mean). Despite being a quintessential playboy-meets-good girl story, Ami Je… comes with a twist that makes it special, and touching.
The trio of Nusrat, Ankush and Sayantika has managed to live up to their bits quite well. Sayantika has done a really good job of playing the matter-of-fact Prachi, especially when it comes to scenes where she needs to express (or rather, hide) her emotional turmoil on seeing her love, Aditya, falling for Esha. Ankush and Nusrat, too, display good chemistry and manage to get their expressions bang on in this drama involving intense emotions.
But on the downside, this official remake of the Marathi film, Mitwaa, retains quite a few obvious Maharashtrian elements. For one, the predominant deity in the film is Shirdi Sai Baba. With all due respect, how many Bengalis visit a Shirdi Sai Baba temple every morning and where exactly in Kolkata is such a large temple of the saint? Then there’s this geographical confusion — Aditya’s resort is apparently in Kolkata, because he never mentions Digha, though he plans to open a branch in Mandarmoni. But he keeps walking out to a beach, come good or bad times. Anyone out there who’s seen a sea beach around town?
These two bloopers apart, the treatment of the film is, thankfully, not over-the-top. We’re so fed up of that after sitting through umpteen ultra-loud south remakes! In fact, most part of Ami Je Ke Tomar (sounds hauntingly similar to Hum Apke Hain Kaun, doesn’t it?) bears uncanny resemblance to the original, including the opening song-and-dance sequence and Ankush’s outfits and his facial fuzz towards the end. And yes, the songs could have been easily filmed in India. It’s kind of disconcerting to see the characters spending a fortune on airfare and visas just to go and dance in Europe!
But all said and done, despite the now-known failings of remakers, I would strongly advise you to watch this film. It will take you back to that Karan Johar kind of mush, with an Imtiaz Ali touch of friendship and a touching twist in the ‘tail’ with good performances to boot. Just take along popcorn for two, and if there’s a crier on board, an extra-large handkerchief.
STORY: Hard-working couple Arnab (Jisshu) and Sushmita (Mimi) had left their son Posto with his parents in Santiniketan, while they chased their dreams in Kolkata. When Arnab gets a business offer in the UK, they want to relocate with their son. But the grandparents are unwilling to let him go. Who will Posto stay with?
REVIEW: What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice. So that brings us to the inevitable question: what, really, is the Bengali audience made of?
The reply to that is the big-ticket lottery in the Bengali film industry and like it or not, no one has a better answer today than directors Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy. Willy-nilly, with their last few films, they have become the conscience keepers of middle-class Bangaliana. And they have done it again with Posto. The film checks all the right boxes: Rabindranath and Santiniketan, raising children, grandparents versus parents, the taboo on drinking, tradition versus modernity et al.
Mind you, doing this — getting the pulse of the core audience right in film after film — is not a mean job. And for that, Shibu and Nandita, as we know them, have found ample support — in film after film — in the wise company of Soumitra Chatterjee. In Posto, Soumitra is in his element as the patriarch Dinen Lahiri, chastising his son Arnab (Jisshu U Sengupta) and showering Posto (Argha) with all his love. At the other end of the acting scale is the bubbly Posto — a bundle of energy and verve. Argha tugs at your heartstrings with a naughty-yet-lovable portrayal in a way only a child actor can. Every mom and grandmom is sure to crush on Posto.
The love between grandparents and Posto has more nuances than the war of egos that is sparked when Arnab comes to take Posto back to Kolkata from his parents’ Santiniketan home. Arnab wants to move to the UK with wife and child, but Lahiri Sr refuses to let his grandson go. After all, he has been caring for the child over the years and believes that Arnab, who can’t hold a job but can hold his drink, is not the right man to rear a child.
So far, so good. But what was a simple argument between father and son, escalates into a court case at a lightning, and slightly unbelievable, pace. The court hearing takes up most of the second half, as the judge (but actually the audience) tries to figure out, who’s a better caregiver for Posto — parent or grandparent.
The other stakeholders in the drama do their bit. Paran Bandyopadhay plays himself and that’s good enough. Lily Chakraborty as grandma is the perfect foil to Soumitra. Jisshu nails the slightly confused GenY dad act without breaking into a sweat, but Mimi Chakraborty, who has taken the bold leap from commercial cinema to more meaningful stuff, has miles to go before she can sleep easy. Her performance as a career mother is underwhelming, with no real vibes coming through with either husband or son. If she is low key, Sohini Sengupta more than makes up for it as a fuming, posturing lawyer who is more out of nautanki than cinema.
So that brings us back to our first question. What do our audiences want? To see a slice of their own lives in a darkened theatre? The answer is out there somewhere. But for Shibu and Nandita, the task of being a touchstone to middle-class Bengali morality comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. In Posto, tradition and continuity triumph over modernity, which wants a clean break from the past in the hope of a better future. It’s a compromise solution and we know what compromises have done to us Bengalis in the past few decades.
The lives of a king (Sudipto) of a small domain, his curvy mistress (Ananya) and a disillusioned postman (Chandan) cross paths with those of a tightrope walker (Kajal) and her family, leading to an abrupt end to the king’s rule.
Tope is a more of a moving canvas than a film. Each frame is a metaphor, though a bit vague at times. And in this medley of colourful metaphors, the characters move the paces defined by the boundaries of the canvas. The result is a mesmerising series of artistic frames, which can be a tad difficult for audiences to connect to, as the underlying story is lost in the haze of colours.
It’s overly cerebral to say the least — not stuff that draws the masses. The film opens to a beautiful canvas of a lonely gramophone scratching out a melody from an old vinyl. The scene, which shows the instrument sitting on a hilltop behind a decorated doorframe, slowly unfolds to reveal a lone man (Sudipto) dancing around the instrument, albeit to a rhythm of his own. What follows is a series of scenes that are high on artistic framing, but low on logic. It’s almost as if you’re watching a thriller, waiting for the random images to make sense somewhere down the line. But that happens only in part. Despite beginning to make sense somewhere down the line, the lack of proper character sketches keeps gnawing at the back of your mind, making you wonder who is what? And why?
I’m still confused whether Ananya played the king’s wife or mistress. Moreover, the way her character behaves at the outset makes you infer that she’s mentally unsound. But then again, even Sudipto’s character seems worse off than the Mad Hatter. And everything is so full of metaphors — it’s unclear why Ananya gets so worked up looking through her binoculars or whether she commits suicide!
On the other hand, Chandan’s character — the postman who lives on a tree with monkeys — has a lot more clarity and even a back story. Though he seems delusional, his character does make sense. Others characters which are somewhat well-etched are those of the little tightrope walker (Kajal) and her parents. They use her as their source of livelihood, with her mother (Paoli) often voicing concern about what would happen to them after she’s married off.
Another prominent metaphor is water. It seems to be an intrinsic part of the lives (or their ends) of Ananya and Sudipto’s characters.
No actor has put in a spectacular performance, except maybe Chandan and Kajal to a certain extent. Or maybe the fact that their characters were livelier than the others made them stand out.
Tope is a film meant for a niche audience — those select few who can look beyond the mundane, everyday stuff, into the domain of imagination. So, if you’re not that interested in connecting the dots and just want to give your grey cells some exercise, go and watch it. It’s a piece of art. And art needn’t always make sense.
REVIEW : After she’s caught stealing, Durga (Sohini) is given a second chance by jeweller Shomshankar Basak’s (Sumanta) younger daughter-in-law, Manashi (Tonushree). What follows is a trial by fire for both women.
A slice of life film is best enjoyed when that slice, however minuscule, is brimming with goodness. And it becomes all the more sweet in today’s world where the news is brimming with violence and death. So, in this fast darkening ecosystem that’s ripping at the seams with intolerance, hate and malice, Durga Sohay is a bright slice of humaneness. It’s about love — especially those facets of the emotion that are fast losing out to lust, selfishness and impatience. Most of all, it’s about the most underrated human quality in modern times — kindness.
All that was about the grain of a film made by an actor-turned-director who’s known for his thrillers, especially his brand of Byomkesh Bakshi films. Durga Sohay breaks that stereotype. Arindam Sil is now a good filmmaker. Period. And that’s all the more apparent from the way he has approached the film and it’s simple, heartwarming subject. The result is a director’s baby. No one over- or under-acts, there’s no continuity faux pas and the story progresses smoothly towards the hope-filled climax.
So, Durga Sohay is essentially a precisely-wound mechanism that unwinds at just the right pace, leaving very little room for the actors to do something extraordinary. But Sohini, Tonushree, Ritobroto and Anirban have still managed to squeeze in memorable performances. Sohini, devoid of the empowering sheen of makeup, manages to embody Durga — a woman whose past is shrouded in the shadows of crime and poverty. Her body language, diction and expressions — right down to fleeting movements of her eyes — are bang on. As for Tonushree, Manashi will certainly be one of her most memorable roles. She plays a mature and caring daughter-in-law of an affluent yet grounded family with elan. That emotions define Manashi is clear from the way Tonushree approaches the role. Rwitobroto, on the other hand, seems a bit too energetic at times but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that he plays Bhrigu — the teenage son of Shomshankar’s elder son Dibyendu (Kaushik) and his wife, Smita (Debjani) — perfectly. Though all actors do justice to their roles, another character that really stands out despite the small screen time is that of Madhab, the seasoned dacoit. Anirban is so surgical in his portrayal that even his 10-odd minutes of screen time makes you detest him.
Bickram Ghosh manages to create the perfect ambience with his music, especially the fusion medley by Bhrigu and his band that forms the core of a musical evening during the Basak family’s Durga Puja celebration. The camerawork by Gairik Sarkar and Sujay Datta Ray’s editing infuses life into Sil’s vision in the best way possible.