Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai
Starring Manav Kaul, Nandita Das, Saurabh Shukla
Written & Directed by Soumitra Ranade
Rating: ***(3 stars)
Apart from the seething fury directed at a social structure that victimizes and crushes the underdog and a raging anger at Capitalism , this new Albert Pinto played by Manav Kaul and the earlier iconic Pinto played by Naseeruddin Shah have nothing in common.
Saeed Mirza’s 1980 classic gets a nodding homage in this completely refurbished take on societal prejudices and an individual’s resentment against a system of governance and economy which encourage monstrous disparity. While Mirza’s film swathed Naseer’s implosive rage in reams of anchored anger and sublimated satire, Manav Kaul’s anger and bitterness is uneven and spasmodic… it’s strews itself all over the place, literally, as this Pinto takes off on a road trip to Goa with a creepy gay paedophile.
Pinto’s rancour is some times directed at the wrong people, like this convivial tribal(played by Omkar Das Manikpuri) whom Pinto burns with his cigarette for smiling all the time. Pinto comes across as a spoilsport , a party-pooper who won’t let others enjoy life, because he can’t. Won’t.
The Kaul-Shukla interactive journey is engaging to a point.But it soon plunges into an embarrassing low-blow of shared acrimony that isn’t getting us , or the two main characters, anywhere.
Albert Pinto’s relations with his suicide-driven father formed a base of splenetic cop-out in both the versions. Here Pinto re-lives his father’s death in scenes that creep up on him in unexpected places….outside a restroom, in the middle of forest, and so on.We are never sure of when Pinto’s outward-projected anger pulls into an inward-drawn self-destructive force.
Manav Kaul is a very fine actor when playing unpredictable volatile rudderless characters. Writer-director Soumitra Ranade’s burdens Kaul’s character with an existential baggage that the narrative is not quite equipped to carry. Given the absence of a lucid motivation Kaul struggles to imbue his character with a sense of subverted purpose.
Added to the narrow anarchic universe created by a writer-director who fathoms the dynamics of all-consuming rage but doesn’t quite have a grip over its movement in his narration, is the part of Pinto’s pert girlfriend Stella played with impassioned exasperation by Nandita Das.
Stella in the original was played by the formidable Shabana Azmi. She had little to do except recoil and uncoil in sync with Albert’s anger.In the new avatar Stella is made to be omnipresent. Even when Albert disappears on her ,he sees her everywhere: on posters in an alcohol shop, a giggly prostitute whom Pinto solicits at a dhaba en route to Goa with his sleazy child-abusing companion(are we supposed to find Shukla’s character endearing in his depravity?) , in a forest where a benevolent tribal introduces him to his pretty wife (who could be Smita Patil in Aakrosh if only she was placed in a less disoriented situation)…Nandita plays multiple roles quite effectively, though at times I did get the feeling that she isn’t fully convinced of her weird omnipresence in the plot.
All through its running time of 90 minutes Albert Pinto,etc seesaws between psychedelic surrealism and a bizarre symbolism. Early in the film Pinto swallows a piece of glass with his beer. It remains stuck in his throat, quite like the film which celebrates the hiccups of explorative existence to an extent where the obstacles and dilemmas seem like the reason for the film’s existence.
There is a sequence early in the film where Stella informs Albert that she is pregnant. He reacts with joy, sarcasm,confusion and resignation, all in a disconcerting loop. The scene ends with Stella declaring she was only testing Albert’s loyalty.
The sequence is remarkable for converting compartmentalized emotions into a frenzied mass of overlapping emotions. Here ,more than anywhere else, the director tells we are entering a universe where the characters’ emotional responses are not be relied on. Given the absence of an authentic centre Albert Pinto dithers dangerously and quite seductively, on the brink. It doesn’t topple over . But the abyss is a breath away.