Report Card: My take on the movies that released during Durga Pujo

Durga Puja is the biggest socio-cultural event in the calendar of Bengalis. From food to frolic, the festival brings with it freshness and gaiety aplomb. Whether it is music or literature (pujor gaan and pujabarshiki for fellow Bangalis), Pujo has become synonymous with an annual splash of cultural pot-puree. And in the last couple of years, a string of blockbuster releases have added to the Durga Pujo blitzkrieg.

This year Tollywood celebrated Durga Pujo with five releases: Yeti Obhijaan by Srijit Mukherjee, Projapoti Biskut by Anindya Chatterjee, Byomkesh O Agniban by Anjan Dutt, Cockpit by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and Chawlochitro Circus by Mainak Bhowmick. Adding to the pleasure of cine-goers, Newton (India’s entry to the Oscars this year) released in the same week.

Apart from Chawlochitro Circus, yours truly has watched all the movies that released during this period. I have already written detailed reviews of Yeti Obhijaan and Projapoti Biskut earlier. Being too lazy to write reviews for the rest, I decided to pen my thoughts about each of these movies in a single post. So, here goes:

Newton: Brevity is an art that is often found missing in India movies. Newton not only delivers its message in less than two hours, but its simplistic and honest commentary on the wonder that is Indian democracy will move you to tears by the time the end credits roll.

Image Source: The Wire

 

We, the privileged urban middle class, often take our rights for granted. For some of our fellow countrymen, like the tribals residing in Naxal-dominated areas of Dandakaranya, basic survival is nothing short of a struggle. Thus, even the biggest festival of democracy – elections – becomes an orchestrated spectacle here. And then there are upright officers like Newton, who would go to any lengths to ensure the rulebook is followed to the T. Alas, he is just a spoke in the cycle of power, which keeps moving on.

Rajkumar Rao’s understated performance, the subtlety in the writing, quirky yet effective and pointed dialogues and the sublimely used background score help Newton achieve a feat one can only dream of. The film shows the society a mirror and forces us to question the pre-conceived notions we live with, in our urban bubbles. Without being preachy, the film packs a solid punch into mainstream belief system that we are accustomed to.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Byomkesh O Agniban: Anjan Dutt’s Byomkesh franchise finally comes of age with Byomkesh O Agniban. Based on Saradindu Bandyopadhyay’s Agniban and Uposonghar, the film brings Byomkesh face to face with his arch nemesis Kokonod Gupta.

Set against the backdrop of the turbulent late 60s, the film takes us into a murky underworld of arms dealings and drug cartels. In a deadly matchstick lies the recipe for a global disaster and it is incumbent upon a dhoti-clad Bengali ‘truth-seeker’ to avert this apparent apocalypse.

Image Source: bmscdn.com

The film breaks free from the typical Byomkesh mould that we have so far received from Anjan Dutt. The freshness is apparent in every frame. The background score, while retaining the signature Byomkesh tune, adds to the drama with the somber notes.

Jishu Sengupta brings the suave, intelligent, Bengali sleuth alive with finesse while Saswata Chatterjee’s somewhat subdued charm complements his friend. The exchange of dialogues during the climax, between Byomkesh and Kokonod, is essentially a commentary on the current socio-political landscape.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Cockpit: Perhaps the weakest link among the films that released during Pujo (apart from Chawlochitra Circus, which is worse I am told), this is Tollywood’s answer to Sully; and ruefully so. The film suffers from several inconsistencies that are glaring on your face, juvenile visual effects and a botched-up execution of a novel concept.

Firstly, I was confused whether the film was about how a pilot saved his flight from a near-apparent crash, or was it about the relationship woes of the pilot and the air hostess. The entire first half of the film is devoted to the chemistry of Dibs and Kirti (Dev and Rukmini) and the audience is led to believe they are into each other, except that Dibs friendzones her. It is also baffling why an air-hostess, who is spurned in love, chooses a flight to be flown by the man who dumped her.

Image Source: GDN8.com

 

And to complete the circle of love, Koel’s character makes a sudden entry at a beach party in Mumbai (where they play Bengali songs from the 90s). In fact, throughout the film, most characters – whether they are doctors in Mumbai or non-Bengali air-hostesses, speak Bangla (sometimes better than the Bengali actors). Koel’s character has acrophobia and so she avoided flying. But there is a full song dedicated to her honeymoon with Dibs in Thailand. Did she take the train?

Then there were the back-stories for some of the passengers. The film suffers from too many sub-plots without any substantive story. Kirti’s character deserved more development. The final half an hour, where Dibs faces the actual crisis while landing, lacked gravity and was overtly melodramatic (like Rukmini’s Neerja moment while saving a child). In fact, when the whole flight was going through turbulence, and from luggage to bottles of fruits juice and milk were falling at will, Kirti’s hat did not even move an inch.

I can go on and on. Surely, Cockpit is not a film that one would expect from the person who made Khawto or Meghe Dhaka Tara.

My Rating: 2/5 stars

Did you watch any of these movies? What were your views after watching them? Do share with me!

 

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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Bhandani Puja of Dooars – A dying heritage

As Durga Puja festivities end, the average Bengali is grasped by melancholy as he returns to the humdrum of life. However, for the Rajbongshis in Dooars, the end of Durga Pujo brings along fresh reason to celebrate – Bhandani Puja.

 

Bhandani Puja pandal at Maynaguri

 

Legend has it that while returning to Kailash after her immersions on Bijoya Dashami, Maa Durga decided to rest in Dooars. The Rajbongshi residents of the region celebrate this stay of the Goddess by worshipping her in the ‘Bhandani’ form.

The idol of Maa Bhandani is same as that of a Durga idol, except that she uses a tiger as her baahon (vehicle) instead of a lion. This Bhandani Puja is widely celebrated in Maynaguri, specially in Barnish, where there is a temple dedicated to Maa Bhandani.

A huge fair is organised every year in Barnish to mark the festival. The Bhandani temple sees a footfall of thousands, not just Rajbongshis. Sadly, there is not much awareness about this beautiful local tradition outside of the region. Thus, a centuries old heritage, with the potential to be a big tourist attraction, lies in neglect.

 

Bhandani Temple in Barnish

 

So next year, if you are visiting Dooars during Pujo, do ask your guide to take you to Barnish on Ekadoshi.

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