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Arranged Marriage Review: Short Film On Same-Sex Love Is Interesting But Flawed

Arranged Marriage(Zee5)

Starring Ali Fazal, Patralekhaa, Omkar Kapoor

Directed  by Pradeep Chatterjee

Rating: ** ½

Interesting premise  of a gay couple’s response  to one of them  getting into a conventional heterosexual marriage  to keep up appearances,Arranged Marriage is far  more honest in its intention than last year’s Shubh Mangal Phir Savdhan which I had  praised  mainly because  it at least dared  to venture  into taboo territory.

But I  was wrong. It’s not enough to  just  go into  homosexuality. A  director needs to  maintain a form hold on  the theme, not dithering in the exposition and execution.

In  its 40-odd minutes  of  playing time, Arranged Marriage succeeds  in bringing out the agony of two men trying to  behave like “just  friends” when they  are  lovers.  Ali Fazal and Omkar Kapoor confer an admirable  credibility to their parts. Fazal’s Nilanjan is specially adept at conveying unspoken  anguish each time he sees  Dev, his Dev, showering attention on his new bride Keya.

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Patralekha as the bride  crammed  into the closet with her husband and his  lover,  reminded me  of  Sharmila Tagore in Apur Sansar. Director Pradeep Sarkar’s  Kolkata brims over with Bangla-isms…the  constant  obsession with  food, for instance.  For more than half the playing time  the characters  eat and talk loudly  without hearing what  the  other person is  saying.

Two major blemishes  mar the impact  of this delicate little film about  the  bride, her husband and his lover. One  is  Keya’s visit to a brothel with an aunt to  learn sexual tricks to attract her disinterested husband in bed. Here we get a vivid closeup  a pair of bare breasts bobbing on a eager  client, just as a defiant reminder that the  OTT platform has no censorship.

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The  other  irritant is the ending where a doctor(Dhritiman Chatterjee)  wants to use an electric to chair to  shock Nilanjan out of his homosexuality. To no one’s surprise, the shock is deflected elsewhere. There is  only this  much that a liberal filmmaker can do with his conscripted  characters.

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