Seasons Greetings (Zee5): Lillette, Celina Light Up A Cluttered Short Film
Starring Lillette Dubey, Celina Jaitley, Azhar Khan , Shree Ghatak
Rating: ***(3 stars)
Meant to be a tribute to my great much-missed friend Rituparno Ghosh, Seasons Greeting is glutted with clotted emotions , all trying to make themselves heard in a film too taken up with its ideas of aesthetic art and cinema to bother with how real or unreal the characters appear when placed into those soulful songs of Rabindranath Tagore.
Rituparno(God bless his soul) also played a lot of Rabindra Sangeet in his films. But in his cinema the dirgeful plaintive tones were organic. Here they are thrust upon a narrative already creaking and groaning with representational responsibilities.
We first meet the film’s protagonist Romita(the lovely Celina Jaitley making a comeback ) making love with Usmaan. The clumsy amorous moves make way for a selfconscious post-coital conversation where Usmaan talks about Ammi and Romita waxes eloquently on her Maa…We get the point. The cultural mix is rubbed into our face, smearing the selfconsciously artistic frames with affectations of a ‘message’
Soon Romita and her ponytailed lover-boy are at her mother’s beautifully appointed home for dinner exchanging sarcastic barbs about the husband/father who we gather has not come to visit Romita and her mother for 15 years. As the conversation on the dinner table moves from accusatory to banal to dreadfully dull, a transgender househelp Chopola(Sree Ghatak) bustles about with the fish fry and red wine
While the mother and daughter hardly eat the narration suffers from a serious indigestion having taken on more on the plate than digestible. In 45 minutes the film wants to cram in issues of Hindu-Muslim marriage, transgender acceptance, marital commitment and a calculated surprise ending that subsumes another important debate on Article 377.
Sadly the film has neither the wherewithal nor the sensitivity to pull through the multiple issues it creates for itself. What will keep you watching Seasons Greetings till the end are the two actresses Lillette Dubey and Celina Jaitly Haag,so beautiful and so above the manufactured bickering that they are pushed into.