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Movie Review – Uma by Srijit Mukherjee

 

It is no secret now that Uma is based on the real life story of Evan Leversage, a terminally ill Canadian boy whose wish to see another Christmas prompted his townspeople to bring the festivities forward by months. In the film, Uma is a terminally-ill Bengali girl, who lives with her father in Switzerland. Having heard tales of the grandeur of Durga Pujo in Kolkata, she has been yearning to visit the city of her roots to immerse herself in the autumnal festive fervour.

Having ignored this wish for years, Uma’s father finally gives in to her wish when he learns she only has two more months to survive. But Durga Pujo is a festival held in October. And Uma may not survive beyond May or June. So, her father moves mountains so that her dying wish can be fulfilled. Uma is the story of this journey, where a father, determined to gift his daughter all the happiness in the world, battles all odds to create ‘Durga Pujo’ in April.

Rituparno Ghosh had adapted a western novel into a Bengali setting so well in ‘Shubho Mahurat’ that I had decided it was the ultimate benchmark of internalisation of a concept into our culture. Srijit Mukherjee not only matches that standard, but outdoes his ‘Sir’ with élan. Imagining Christmas as Durga Pujo is just the tip of the iceberg. The beauty of his intricate detailing lies in the names of the characters. Uma’s parents are named Himadri and Menoka. The director who takes charge of creating the grand Pujo illusion is named Brahmananda. His art director is Bishwakarma, the person responsible for crowds is Lokeshwari and the light management is the forte of Arka Ray.

Then there is Himadri’s friend Barun, who creates artificial rain in one scene. His wife is aptly named Neera. There is a ‘guest’ actor who plays an errant officer of CESC, responsible for electricity. No prizes for guessing, his name is Indro. Then there is Gajanan, who’s penned an entire ‘Mahabharat’ for the script and Gobindo, who takes care of all arrangements. The icing on the cake – the anti-hero, Hindu fundamentalist who tries to foil the preparations is named Mahitosh Sur. Only a brilliant mind could fit in the entire Hindu mythology associated with Durga Pujo, into the 2018 setting.

Srijit Da’s detailing is even more enunciated in the introductory scene of Brahmananda. On the walls of his home hang posters of films he directed – Nirbashito (signifying the exile he is in), Meghe Dhaka Tara (the unrequited talent) and Autograph (which was a film about an eclipsed film star trying to make a mark). In fact, this film belongs as much to Brahmananda, as it does to Uma and her father. Anjan Dutt outdoes his performance in Nirbaak and Chitrangada to make us realise what a talent Bengali directors have wasted all these years.

Sara Sengupta mesmerises in her debut performance. She has the quirky persona of her mother and the gravitas of her father. A new star is born. Her chemistry with her (on and off-screen) father Jisshu, makes you yearn to go give your parents a big hug, and say ‘thank you’.

Uma has an ensemble cast that packs a powerful performance throughout. Rudrnail Ghosh, Ambarish Bhattacharya, Abhijit Guha, Neel Mukherjee are all clogs of the giant wheel – the ten hands of Maa Durga, who make anything happen, just for the smile on Uma’s face. And despite the personal dislike for Babul Supriyo, the politician, I have no qualms admitting that he shines as the Bihari goonda, who has a change of heart ultimately (specially so, because his only record of acting is in a terrible remake of Uttam Kumar’s last film).

Anirban Bhattacharya deserves credit for his stern, hate-filled, bigoted act that melts in a moment of emotional transformation into a loving father-figure. Just like Mahisasur had surrendered himself to Durga, just before the Goddess slayed the buffalo demon. Srabanti, who plays Mariam, an actor roped in to play mother to Uma, when she returns to Kolkata, is her usual best. Uma’s real mother, played by Sayantika, struck a chord in the few scenes she appeared.

Supporting the cast in equal measure were the songs composed by Anupam Roy and the background score by Neel Dutt. Shoumik Haldar’s photography needs no separate mention. There are scenes in Switzerland, where you automatically shout ‘wow’ or ‘jiyoh’ and want the scene to freeze so you can keep staring at the visuals.

After all that praise, a little note on what I felt I would have done differently. While retaining the character of Indro as the CESC officer, I would have changed his backstory (ektu playing to the gallery hoye gelo na?). Also, the happy ending at Babughat, where Brahmananda meets his estranged wife, was a bit far-fetched. Talking of the grand climax at Babughat, I would have also ended the film right where the camera panned out of the banks, giving us an aerial view of what the city is capable of achieving, if she wishes to. Himadri finding out that Uma knew about her mother, could have come in Nabami itself, making Bijoya sweeter.

Having said that, this was Srijit Da’s film and he envisioned it in a certain way. It is not my business to pass judgments about how he brings up his baby. This is a very personal film and the effort shows in every scene. As I had tweeted earlier, Srijit Da’s dad must be very proud.

What defines a good film? This is a question that has divided the society for long. For some, it is an escape from the motley of practical world. For some, it is a medium of mass movement. For some, it is just a means of making money.

Why do I watch films? Because they help me survive, one day at a time. And, Srijit Mukherjee’s films have always been that elixir that helped me gain a new perspective of the world. Uma, surely is one of the crowning jewels in Srijit Da’s box office offerings so far.

My Rating: Emotions cannot be rated

P.S. – The end credits with Evan’s photos choked me to tears.

DISCLAIMER: ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS POST HAVE THEIR RESPECTIVE COPYRIGHTS

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Movie Review: Alinagarer Golokdhadha by Sayantan Ghosal

আলিনগরের গোলকধাঁধা – বাংলা সিনেমার এক পথিকৃৎ

বাংলা সিনেমায় থ্রিলার বা রহস্য রোমাঞ্চের বড্ড অভাব। ফেলুদা-ব্যোমকেশ কিংবা হালের কিরীটি আর শবর গোয়েন্দা সিনেমা ঠিকই কিন্তু এডভেঞ্চার মুভি বাংলায় কমই হয়েছে। গত বছর এই ধারাক্রমটা ভাঙেন সায়ন্তন ঘোষাল, ‘যকের ধন’ ছবিটির মাধ্যমে। স্বভাবতই প্রত্যাশার পারদ ছিল ঊর্ধ্বমুখী, আর পরিচালক মশাই দর্শকের চাহিদার মান রেখেছেন এই ছবিটিতে।

‘আলিনগরের গোলকধাঁধা’ এমন এক সময় তৈরী হল যখন বাংলা সিনেমা তো দূরের কথা, বাংলা সংস্কৃতি, মায় ভাষাটা পর্যন্ত অস্তমিত হওয়ার পথে। আজকের এই ‘বাংলাটা ঠিক আসে না’ যুগে দাঁড়িয়ে পরিচালক মহাশয় একটি কালজয়ী, পথিকৃৎ ছবি উপহার দিলেন আমাদের। বাংলা সাহিত্য, সাহিত্যের ইতিহাস এবং বঙ্গের ইতিহাস এই সিনেমার মজ্জায় মজ্জায়। নিজের শহর, নিজের ভাষা তদোপরি নিজের মাতৃভূমি সম্বন্ধে কত কিছুই না জানলাম এই আড়াই ঘন্টায়। ধন্যি, ঘোষাল বাবু।

একটি প্রাসাদ যেমন দাঁড়িয়ে থাকে ইঁটের ভীতে, তেমনই এই ছবির মূল হোতা অবশ্যই অনির্বাণ ভট্টাচার্য্য। তুখোড় অভিনয়, শ্যেন দৃষ্টি, সাবলীল স্ক্রিন প্রেজেন্সের মাধ্যমে সোহম কে সে জীবন্ত করে তুলেছে। বাংলার ইতিহাসের অগাধ পান্ডিত্য কে হাতিয়ার করে একের পর এক ধাঁধা নিমেষে সমাধান করছে সে। সঙ্গী পার্নো মিত্র সঙ্গত দিয়েছেন পুরো দমে।

বাকি অভিনেতাদের মধ্যে গৌতম হালদারকে মগনলাল মেঘরাজকে অনুকরণ করতে গিয়ে একটু বেশি রগচটা করে ফেলেছেন। এরকম গল্পে ভিলেন যদি নিজেকে কমেডিয়ানে পর্যবসিত করেন, তাহলে তো মুশকিল। পরাণ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ও নিপাট অভিনয় করেছেন। এই সিনেমায় অনেকদিন পর মনোজ মিত্র এবং মনু মুখোপাধ্যায়কে বড়পর্দায় দেখলাম। যদিও খুব ছোট রোলে। যত টুকু সময় এঁরা পর্দায় ছিলেন, তাদের এতবছরের অর্জিত অভিজ্ঞতা ও অভিনয় দক্ষতা উজাড় করে দিয়েছেন।

একদিকে যেমন চিত্রনাট্য ছবির হিরো, তেমনি চিত্রগ্রাহক মহাশয়ও প্রশংসার পাত্র বটে। ড্রোনের ব্যবহারে চেনা কলকাতার এক অচেনা রূপ দেখলাম। সাথে উত্তর কলকাতার গলিঘুপচি তো আছেই। শেষের ক্লাইম্যাক্সে মুর্শিদাবাদের দৃশ্যগুলি দেখার থেকেই মন আনচান করছে এখুনি নবাবদের রাজধানী ঢুঁ মেরে আসতে।

আমি কমার্সিয়াল/আর্ট সিনেমা – এই ভাগাভাগিতে বিশ্বাসী নই। আমার কাছে সিনেমা শুধু দু প্রকার – ভাল আর খারাপ। এই সেদিনই আনন্দবাজারে একটা লেখায় পড়লাম ভাল সিনেমা মানে যার রেশ কাটতে চায় না। আলিনগরের গোলকধাঁধা এই পর্যায়েই পড়ে। ঘোষাল বাবুর পরবর্তী ছবির অপেক্ষায় রইলাম।

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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

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