Movie Reviews

Pagla Ghoda Is A Dark Probing Look At Human Bondage: Movie Review

Starring: Chitrangada Chakraborty, Gopal K  Singh, AnshumanJha,Ravi Khanvilkar, Vikram Kochar

Directed by: Bikash Mishra

Out On   Hotstar On May 30

Badal Sarkar’s powerful desperately probing play about how patriarchal tyranny can destroy all claims of female  empowerment, gets a brightly-lit searching persuasive incendiary and  long-limbed  treatment by director Bikas Mishra who doesn’t mind penetrating dark alleys and side roads of filmmaking where most filmmakers would just  like to avoid going.

It is a world of supreme staginess.  Sarkar’s  play is put on film like  a brooding discursive chamber piece replete with the anger and  anguish of the  original but also supplemented with a newly-invigorated insight into the mechanics  of  sexual politics which are so robustly projected  by the four male actors who look at love from a laconic perspective.

Each one is a secret groin-renegade  more sinned than  sinned against, these men are “normal” on the top  . But as they talk into the night they bring out all the blemishes , discrepancies and hypocrisies of our social order where women are less equal than men even when the men they meet are “progressive” in a twisted  kind of way.

One of them played with vulnerability and arrogance by AnshumanJha ,gets angry when his girlfriend takes a drink at a friend’s birthday…or is he angry because she refuses to  have sex with him? In this way the narrative punctures the portrait of  love as we accept it, to explore the underbelly of human relationships where a moment of weakness can destroy an entire universe of faith.

The setting is the cremation of a girl. Who is she? How did she die? What is  her relationship with the  four men? These are not questions that need any specific answer. Director  Mishra  opens up the original play and plants some persuasive leads into the arguments that men in patriarchal societies put forward to support their double standards.

Each of the four men is guilty of letting a woman down  at a time when she needed the man’s support. There is  a pinpointed moment of reckoning when the patriarchal betrayal happens.And the  play as too the film revels  in that moment, grabs it by the waist and shakes it until the lies that control gender equations in oppressive societies, come apart.

The film is set  in one ruinous room , a decadent  dismantled musty and smelly legacy of  a life that ceased to be intimidated by death.  Driven by some tragically powerful thoughts on the dichotomy that runs through the Indian middleclass even when it assumes progressive postures,Pagla Ghoda is not everyone’s cup of tea. But you can’t miss its acutely credible take  on a crumbling patriarchal order . The four principal performances by veterans Ravi Kanvilkar and Gopal Singh also the younger actors Anshuman Jha and Vikram Kochar are strong and supportive of the powerful material.

And  Chitrangada Chakbrabort plays Everywoman. She is the victim  of male ambivalence in every male protagonist’s “love” story.

If you want to call it that.

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