Abaar Bochhor Kuri Pore(released on February 18, now showin theatres in Kolkata)
Starring Abir Chatterjee, Abhishek Bannerjee,Arpita Chatterjee, Tnusree C
Written & Directed by Srimanta Sengupta
Bengali cinema has been in a state of creative dormancy for a while now. Once the land of Satyajit Ray,Ritwick Ghatak,Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh, today the Bengali film industry is an arid wasteland composed of wannabe Rays or, worse, wannabe Rohit Shettys. Neither persona fits the bill.Little wonder , Bangal cinema seems to be going through a premature menopause.
It is with some relief and meager pleasure that I saw writer-director Srimanta Sengupta pull off a conventional coming-of-age film plotline about four friends(there is a mention of a fifth who has flown the coop and send messages about the delights of the dollar) who go from college to jobs to a midlife crisis in a film that runs for more than 2 ½ hours but seems to take forever to get there.
I wish Srimanta Sengupta had got himself a better editor who would have cut away into the the unnecessary self-introspections that besiege the characters bringing on impromptu bouts of paralaytic intertia in the narrative.
All the four protagonists are into heavy self-searching when in fact they seem to be woefully cut off not only from one another but also from the wider reality that defaces their dreams so blatantly.Arun(Abir Chatterjee) and Bonnie(Arpita Chatterjee) are supposed have been a couple before they parted. But I saw zero chemistry between them and it’s hard to imagine that they were ever together.
Making matters worse is the fact that Arun is played by different actors in the present and the past while Bonnie remains the same; a huge mistake in terms of a consistent graph for the couple since the actor who plays the younger version of Abir Chatterjee looks nothing like him.
A fine actor in normal circumstances, Abir here grapples with a slew of serious creative aberrations and a co-star who plays his friend/sidekick (Abhishek Bannerjee) who is present in almost every scene with Abir in this plodding maendering pilgrimage into the past. There is also Arun’s troubled relationship with his old father who seems to be a gentle kind devoted man. What is Arun’s problem with his father? We never know.
Srimanta Sengupta’s screenplay overloads the narrative with problems that have no easy solution, not because they are insolvable but because the characters seem to be burdened with problems just so that they can seem preoccupied all the time. Hence they seem stuck in a past of which we know little except that they hung around taking group photos when they were younger.
It’s like a man fearing the loss of his job pretending to be busier than he actually is.
Which reminds me of an early moment in the film when Arun announces a massive retrenchment and all the newly-jobless applaud.The well-meaning but ponderous film misses such biting moment of truth for a wannabe cute-and-cuddly travel piece where characters open doors into their past but are too lazy to walk through them.