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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

Film Review: Yeti Obhijaan by Srijit Mukherjee

Durga Pujo brings with it several cultural and social appendages that make this autumnal festival so glorious and enthusing. Among the myriad cultural innuendos associated with Pujo, ‘Pujor Release’ tops the list for Bengalis, for sure. And when it comes to Pujo releases, Srijit Mukherjee is a name to reckon with. From Autograph (2010) to Zulfiqar (2016), his films have always added to the splendour and merriment during the festivities.

Pujobarshiki (or special Durga Pujo editions of popular magazines) is also ingrained in our festive culture, just like films. And Pujobarshiki Anandamela always meant embarking on a new adventure trail with Kakababu. When the trailer of ‘Yeti Obhijaan‘ released, it brought a wave of nostalgia with it. The trailer was visually stunning, the story was intriguing and the feel of the trailer was sensational. And the film lives up to the interest the trailer peeked in viewers.

The scale of this film is as grand as the Himalayas. Soumik Halder deserves the biggest credit for capturing the essence of this larger-than-life canvas in the most serene style. He almost humanises the Hills, which is endearing to say the least.The exceptional use of aerial shots, coupled with the vibrant texture of the varied hues of snow lets your imagination run wild. There is a scene where an injured Sherpa makes his way to the camp, sliding on the snow. The gleaming red colour of his blood, juxtaposed against the dry and sombre snow, was a spectacle to behold. The film also stands out for the breathtakingly beautiful use of lights in the underground caves, where the climax of the film unfolds.

One of the reasons why I had not liked Mishawr Rohosyo was the length of the film and unnecessary sub-plots. Yeti Obhijaan steers clear of these shortcomings and in a signature-Srijit style presents an exhilarating thriller that would be palatable for anyone from 8 to 80. The dialogues are witty and sharp. And the riveting background score is sure to give you goosebumps all along.

Prosenjit Chatterjee gets in to the skin of the character and makes it his own. His silent stares, signature limp, and quintessential Bangaliana will keep you on the edge of your seats. As Shantu, Aryan Bhowmick has come a long way from Mishawr Rohosyo. Even the character of Shantu has evolved and matured. In his small role, Jishu Sengupta again gives us a taste of his mettle.

Few years back, when Chander Pahar was adapted for the silver screen, the makers faced a flurry of angry reactions over the depiction of Bunyip. These are characters we have grown up with; we have visualised them in certain fashion in our own imaginations. Any conflict is bound to create a negative impact. In fact, after seeing the posters of Yeti Obhijaan, one question kept lingering in my mind. Will the Yeti go the Bunyip way? Srijit Mukherjee surely deserves a word of praise for his intelligent handling of the ‘myth’.

Overall, Srijit Mukherjee deserves a huge pat on the back, and a packet full of sweets from Balaram Mullick (wink) for setting the bar high yet again. Bengali cinema has never seen an adventure film of this magnitude, and finesse, before. This Durga Pujo, every Bengali must take a ride of nostalgia to the Alps with Yeti Obhijaan.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

P.S. I am taking My Alexa Rank to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa with BlogChatter. This is Post #3

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

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