Khaali Dabba: A Hindi-Gaali-Inducing Experience

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Imagine those outstandingly promising mornings when you woke up for school to delicious aromas wafting out of the kitchen? While pooping-showering-polishing-shoes all you could think about was what an amazing lunch Mommy was packing for you. During the second period itself, you start feeling hungry, begging recess to swoop in faster. And then it does. With drum roll inside your head, you frantically open the lunchbox and –

Egg and cheese sandwiches. Or oatmeal porridge. Or chapattis and brinjal gravy.

Dreams comes crashing down. You feel cheated, deceived, and a ball of anger rises from your hungry galls. What the fuck?!

My reaction exactly after watching The Lunchbox. I was cursing myself and my very lazy partner in crime for not watching The Lunchbox earlier. We missed the film on the opening week, choosing to watch Phata Poster Nikla Hero (we all know how that went. You don’t? Read here) and found ourselves too busy after that. Finally, Saturday night we settled down for one of the best Indian films of this year.

Widower Fernandes suddenly finds tasty food in his lunchbox. Ila, a mid-aged housewife is confused at her husband’s sudden love for her lunch spread. After dressing up for him (because that is what an Indian housewife always does after seeing an empty lunch box. Sajna hai mujhe sajnaa ke liye instantly plays in the background because the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach, she still believes) but before the sex of her dreams can even begin, she realizes that the lunchbox had been delivered to a different man. The next day she sends a note for him in the box, peppering her Hindi with humour and a bored housewife’s evident longing. She also cooks her husband’s favourite paneer preparation with as much love as she can muster. She hopes that the lunchbox reaches her husband this time. She also hopes against it.

Fernandes replies – Dear Ila, the food was salty today.

An excellent start. You would expect a wonderful relationship to be woven with letters between two people who never meet. You would expect them to share their lives, opening up to each other, sharing the trials and tribulations of life, finding some excitement in their empty lives. You would expect them to want to finally meet each other, their hesitation and fear. You would expect something outstanding to happen in the climax, a fantastic twist that will leave you gaping, feeling that this was definitely one of the best films you have seen in your life. You would expect Irrfan to wow you with his performance as usual. You would expect Nawaz to act his arse off and be an absolute delight to watch. You would expect the Irrfan-Nawaz combination to be like the Aamir-Salman coming together of intelligent-meaningful-parallel cinema.

Or so you would expect. And so was I expecting too.

Not ONE of those things happened. The letters were meaningless, without heightening the story’s emotional curve at all. Bits and pieces of information were shared (My wife died, my husband is fucking around, a woman committed suicide with her daughter, oh-my-god-what-was-she-thinking) and no heat or passion was exchanged. The fact that they decided to finally meet (or did they? I am being kind to those fools who are still afraid of spoilers) comes with no trepidation at all. You don’t feel anything. And then the resolution arrives, completely void of any heart or head. As the credits roll, you are left with just one expression – what the fuck?!

The film has too many ‘the fuck’ moments.

What the fuck was the director trying to achieve with this film?

What the fuck is the story about? Love? Hope? Release? Second Chance? Why the fuck do I have no clue about the motive of the film AFTER having watched it?

What the fuck was the director’s point of view about the absolute lack of emotion? Case in point: Ila finds her husband is having an affair (from sniffing his week’s dump of shirts). She writes about it to a stranger who is not providing her ANY solace whatsoever. If the director wants us to believe that those few insipid lines in English are ENOUGH for her to find a place for him in her heart, he does not know the womankind.

Why the fuck does Ila not move in with her recently-widowed mother and scamper off to Bhutan of all places? She wanted to escape her marriage. Her mother needs her. So, rather than doing a typical (and, in this case, logical) main meri maike chali jaungi, she takes off for Bhutan with her daughter? And the reason she gives for moving to Bhutan – don’t even get me started.

How the fuck did the director achieve the Herculean feat of making Irrfan Khan do a bad job?! Irrfan does nothing in the film. Zilch. His expression remains the same from frame one. He adds zero energy or magnetism or charisma to the performance.

And most importantly, what the fuck was Nawaz doing in the film? This was nothing more than a casting coup, as the film DID NOT EVEN NEED THAT CHARACTER. His character does nothing for the narrative (except that scooter ride) and Nawaz is as bland and unexciting as Irrfan.

No background score. Absolutely boring cinematography. Lightweight writing. Forgettable (I will force myself to forget) performances. Downright shitty direction.

I have a feeling that a brilliant marketing strategy was at play. It is a growing fad in the industry to be intelligent. Being ‘intellectual’ is suddenly very cool. And knowing how herd mentality-ed human beings are, if a couple of people start appreciating something, many will follow – for fear of being called stupid or being left out. Just like the Ship of Theseus which tried way too hard, The Lunchbox is nothing but an empty mainstream attempt to be different.

Remember me telling you guys that I was scared of watching The Lunchbox? Now, you realize why. I am not watching The Good Road. Period. My time is too precious.

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A Second Helping: Bong Bong, Bandra

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I have always believed strongly that restaurants should be re-reviewed in intervals, anonymously, the second time round. When restaurants open, they are at their shiniest and politest best. They send out invites and are always on their toes, expecting hungry food critics and bloggers to troop in as soon as possible. Their plates are the cleanest, smiles broadest, and food tastiest. But a restaurant does not shut down after a month, now does it? How do you guide the helplessly hungry who is frantically searching for an option online? Is it not unfair that he falls for your heaven-praising review, written hours after the opening, only to find chipping walls and scampering rats instead? I have been on the receiving end. Falling for critical acclaim, I went searching for Poush in Andheri West, which supposedly has shikaras for seating options. I was excited. The shikaras turned out to be nothing but outdoor seating with canopy. As I opened the door, a rat ran out through my legs! I still wanted to give the food a shot. While struggling to tear a piece of a lamb meat ball of what was supposed to be ‘goshtaba’, my stomach boycotted. We hurriedly left, running into Arsalan to save our lives. A good plate of steaming biryani (with extra potatoes) helped us wash down the disaster.

I walked into Bong Bong for the second time two days back. I had eaten at the joint within a week of its opening, and this time, I really had a tough time recognizing the place. It was dark, dingy, and empty, the walls cracked, covered with a thin layer of grease and kitchen soot, the furniture dirty, and the cushions mouldy. I smiled – this is what sitting in some random Torun Da’s cabin or Bannerjee Hindu Hotel back in West Bengal would feel like. ‘Hindu Hotels’ dot suburban and rural Bengal. These are low-priced rice-and-fish eateries (there is nothing ‘Hindu’ about them. No they don’t serve pork. Some don’t even serve chicken. Some are even run by Muslims) which rickshaw pullers and shopkeepers tramp into for lunch and dinner. No, I have never walked into one back at home, but I have seen enough of them to know that sitting in Bong Bong that afternoon felt quite the same.

Like always, I chose to ignore that.

They did not serve Luchis (blissful Bengali puris that make every Bengali smile with joy and glowing pleasure) and the guy who made parathas ‘wasn’t there’. The menu had confused me even on my last trip here. Why is ‘potatoes cooked in Bengali five spices’ a starter? That is what you have with Luchis or parathas. I could not get that niggling doubt away. The non-vegetarian section (though the dishes are named oh-so-fancy) has some excellent starter options. The fish fry rules, of course. I will also recommend the fish fillets steamed in mango pickle, a tangy-sour-spicy mouth watering delicacy. Typical to what Bong Bong wants to achieve, it is experimental and definitely a winner. The chicken money bags, inspired heavily by the bhetki paturi, make for a wonderful addition too. The spices are delicious, combining beautifully with the meat. Much like a ‘Hindu’ hotel, they also serve pork ribs cooked Bengali style. I can’t say NO to pork ribs, and I can’t say that to Bengali style either! But yes, I agree that I prefer my pork ribs braised the American, Goan, or Arunachali way. The Mutton chaanp fry is another firework of flavours and would be S-E-X with some crispy lachha parathas. (Apologies for my language. I had experimented with myself and realized that I choose food over sex. My tongue is where my G-spot lies).

I definitely wouldn’t try the Biryani – I cannot cheat on Arsalan. And I have no idea why they have sandwiches on the menu. The main course gravies come with plain steamed rice or pulao. While the starters have had some thought put into them, the main course is surprisingly conventional. Not that I complain though. The coriander and mustard chicken was soothing and homely, the kosha (slow stir-cooked gravy) supremely spicy, and the railway chicken curry was almost Mummy-like in its simplicity, two potato cubes, and no-frills attitude. The heavenly reminds-you-of-home plastic chutney (transparent papaya slices cooked in a lime-laced sugary concoction), oh, I could have many more bowlfuls of it! Don’t bother with the baked Roshogolla though. Why would you want to bake roshogollar payesh (reduced milk pudding with cream cheese balls)? The logic eludes me.

The prices might be very-Bandra, but the food, specifically the main course, is definitely kitchen-in-Calcutta. I could even hear the chefs and waiters chatting and abusing in coarse Bengali. It felt like being in Bandel or Bardhaman. But when the bill arrived, I was back on Pali Naka. Imagine paying six hundred rupees for a rice-chicken curry, plastic chutney, and roshogollar payesh. My grandmother just flung a ladle at me from heaven! The price you pay for being away from home. Sigh.

 

Image courtesy: Google Images

The Watering Hole: Anirban Roy Choudhury

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Poet, writer, and tattoo artist, Anirban Roy Choudhury is the first feature on The Watering Hole.

 

Before the Blackout

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Everybody is taking a walk

In reverse,

On infinite roads of time.

Houses on the street

are forever quiet

Miffed doors shut,

Their lights have been left on

lest they feel alone.

Children play marbles on the pavement.

The older smoke weed,

On the rock of front doors.

The oldest,

Fly around in wheelchairs

Scattering colors from spinning spokes.

They fly past forgotten windows

Ducking at ropes

That drip water from clothes

left to dry.

They wink at pretty ladies from the past

At a wedding below

The bride in

Patterned dress

Coiled and colored

Hiding the white.

Then the lights go out

All but,

A closing star

From top-left of the sky

And novate the new

Through prisms of shade

in ruby-red.

Some paint the skin,

Trees,shops and bus-stops.

Some like,

Raindrops in white

smudge the edges

and fade in.

Carnival and confetti

Stops.

Marbles won and lost.

Joints abused.

Wheelchairs come crashing down.

Waves on the Wall

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The sea returns

all that it takes

Not mend broken shells

on the shore

buried in sand

with cigarette ends.

She finds them

digging out

a small hole

with fingers dirty

unpainted.

The sea returns

all that it takes

Not mend broken shells

in her bag

buried in the bottom

with candyfloss.

He leaves them

on the beach

candies,shells

and cigarette ends.

Finders, keepers.

Sheltered Shells

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She saw everything.

She saw through everyone of you.

With her eyes searching amongst stars,

countless tales and their female protagonists,

standing tall against the dark sky mute.

How easily she could brace the night

and the dauntless spirit of well voices,

That breathed battered passion

and dreams on her roof.

This is where she lived.

He felt everything.

He fell down the well of reveries.

The moss that grew on the stone walls

were soft on touch, slippery to grasp,

making him drown with pleasure and solitude.

He spoke with bubbles

which lived awhile scared by your contempt

and scorned by the stars above.

He never liked the skies,

that chained the birds in endless flight.

This is why he lived down a well.

As the queen’s army flooded the desert

Raising storms that blinded your eyes

He roared about the noise

from a glass bunker beneath.

She saw the well from afar

tied her paper-horse to the air

and walked up to the well with curious eyes.

She leaned over,

she whispered a wish with a coin in her palms

and dropped it with eyes shut.

The bubbles were lost to ripples born

careless and in conflict

that made clear the colour of his eyes

as they looked up to meet.

Silent conversations collide and conquer

the well and the desert storm.

He would beat on the walls

but could never learn to swim.

So, he dug deeper down

to find a way under the desert-floor

that would lead to the setting sea,

where she would sulk and shine

leaving the paper-horse behind.

He hollowed out

a crafted cavern

in a fortnight and two days.

He found her coin and kept it safe

for when she would come

and drown in a well

and be with him,

sheltered from the rest.

And feet,

lost in the clouded sea

found her way back home

with sea salts and turquoise

in a wine bottle;

while searchlights

of a tangled universe

flashed against the waves

that splashed and roared

with hail and silent shells

over the night beach

that glittered yesterday’s moon

every noisy morning.

The sea that strands its shells

Should not be trusted.

(All rights for poetry and artwork reserved by Anirban Roy Choudhury. Kindly contact the author before reproduction)

Introducing The Watering Hole

Hello Everybody! For a very long time I have been wanting to create a showcase space for fellow artists, poets, writers, and dreamers on my blog. We see their works all around us on FB and Instagram, and this is my way of giving them one more place to enjoy the spotlight. So, I bring you, The Watering Hole.

The Watering Hole is a bi-monthly showcase feature on the Lazy Critic Blog which will host works of amazing amateurs on the road to becoming fabulous. If you think you have stuff you want to share, feel free to send a sample over for evaluation at arneshg@gmail.com. Type “The Watering Hole” in the subject space. If your work can make the Lazy Critic get off his lazy arse, you will be featured in this space next!

Cheers to all of you!

Yours Lazily,

The Lazy Critic

Bullshit Films, Good Dinners, and One Heck of a Book

 

I have had a very rough month and a half. I have been spending journalistic hours in office filing stories and hunting for photographs or recording interviews outside. Yes, I did get to meet legends like Alyque Padamsee and Sunil Shanbag, chatting with them for hours on my favourite subject under the sun, but I have realized that I don’t love them enough to transcribe hours of their interviews and then create features out of them, which will magically have to be interesting reads. I can mimic Alyque’s voice by now, and I know Sunil’s school and college life to the T. I can actually rattle off premiere dates of each of their productions, crack anecdotes from their childhood, and so on. If you were a Martian, I could make you believe I was them. And when I am trying to write a booker-worthy feature article on them, which will make the subscribers go wild and laud my writing skills (maybe the editor of the New Yorker will give me a call), all I can hear in my head is “I wanna go home…I need a pillow…I need my mommy…”

Sometimes I don’t hear anything, just white noise. And that is worse.

Slowly a burning disgust for the written/printed word has been rising from the bottom of my belly like heartburn. I have a towering pile of books I still have to read and an equally high pile of books I couldn’t read more than the first four pages. That is my limit – if you can’t grab me by the balls in the first four pages, you are never getting under the sheets with me, Mr. Paperback. To add to my woe, the films I saw were disastrous. ‘Disastrous’ is an understatement. I abandoned two of them. Let us not even talk about Sunday night’s play.

I used to be the ideological ar(tist)se who believed in giving everybody a chance. Every film should be watched from top to bottom because someone put in effort to make it, I used to profess. Bull. Fucking. Shit. That’s like saying we should travel to the loins of Haryana because I have still not traveled the breadth and length of my country. Sometimes, ignorance is orgasm.

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I was really looking forward to watching Shuddh Desi Romance. Maneesh Sharma had had a fantastic debut with Band Baaja Baarat and he had been adept in capturing the North Indian small town flavour in his film. It had some very crisp writing and a modern storyline. SDR promised the same things with Jaideep Sahni also on board. Sushant and Parineeti are the next big things in Bollywood, ain’t they?

A boy confused about commitment. A girl confused about commitment. So they decide not to commit and become a happy-go-lucky-underwear-washing-cigarette-smoking-sex-having live-in couple.

That’s it. Period.

After spending two hours telling us that they love each other but were unsure of getting married (and after having been a live-in couple from the very beginning), they come to the conclusion that the solution to their problem is, in fact, to not get married and remain a live-in couple. Throw in the ‘other’ woman who is always required to help the lead actor ‘realize’ that he does, indeed, love the lead actress. Insipid writing, uneven performance, dialogues trying too hard to be cool and quote-able – this was one big fat unnecessary film.

Footnote: Parineeti Chopra, like Anushka Sharma, is playing the spontaneous-boisterous-eccentric Punjabi/Jat/Haryanvi/Rajasthani girl really well. The next big stereotyping in Bollywood, everybody.

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I had read the short story ‘Railway Aunty’ by Mohan Sikka in the anthology Delhi Noir. I did not remember the story until I heard that Shilpa Shukla was starring in the film based on it. She is definitely a promising firebrand actress and I was hopeful of watching her as a wily seductress on screen.

An orphaned twenty year old is pimped out by a hot cougar who uses him for her pleasure and then shuts the door on him when trouble comes knocking. The climax is rattled with hormones and revenge.

Why adapt an average story into film when you have no intention of rising above the mediocre? B.A. Pass bores you with half-baked performances, a handful of insipid sex scenes, a yawn-worthy storyline, and a most editable Deepti Naval cameo. Another film that should not have been made.

By now, I am sure, my irritability is understandable. I found some time and thought that finishing Jhumpa Lahiri’s second novel might be redemption from all the bullshit around me. I was wary, trust me. I have not been able to finish Rowling’s torturous Casual Vacancy even to this day.

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But, may the Almighty bless Lahiri till the end of the world. May the ink of her pen (or printer) never run dry. May she forever remain as beautifully deft with the English language as this book proved her to be.

The Lowland is a wonderful concert of words, emotions, and human relationships. Lahiri is at her visual best, painting such detailed pictures that you can literally run the book like a film in your head while you read it. Steeped in her trademark nostalgia-love-relationships-torn-by-geography concoction, The Lowland is more mature and delves into grey-er areas of human relationships. Unlike any of her earlier works, this novel deals with more complex webs of emotions, so connectable at times, that you can actually feel yourself in the characters’ shoes – trying to make their difficult decisions. Under her penwomanship, every emotion lays bare, having acquired a brittle and helpless quality, like a drop of dew precariously cradled in the wind on a young leaf.

Laid across a broad canvas, The Lowland follows the lives of two brothers from 1943 to post-2010, their differing ideologies and lifestyles, the painful choices made, the disasters met, the generations given birth to, and finding meaning and direction in life. From Calcutta to Rhode Island, identities are questioned and one fateful afternoon designs the overwhelming future of Udayan, Subhash, Gauri, and Bela.

Lahiri achieves what most writers fail to accomplish – simplicity. She allows the words to flow, not restricted by heightened vocabulary or forceful style. The story unfolds so naturally, swaying to a rhythm independent and spontaneous. Other than Hosseini, she might just be the only writer who can deftly craft nostalgia on paper.

Please don’t make the mistake of believing that all the bullshit had been rid off my life. One fateful Sunday afternoon, my partner in crime and I decided to watch Grand Masti. We wanted a light watch, we rationalized.

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But no, Grand Masti turned out to be quite a hefty intellectual affair. By the end of the film we were left exhausted of our mental faculties. Three young professionals, caged by the trials and tribulation of marriage, decide to attend their college reunion to re-examine their priorities, needs, and the true meaning of life. They question life truths (what A-B-C actually stands for rather than the pseudo-realities taught by society), understand psycho-sexual effects of rodent-looking underwear on feline behaviour, tackle the evils of technology encroaching upon privacy, and finally attain the divine secret of marital bliss. Grand Masti will definitely go down as one of the most raw and honest commentaries of society and pop culture today. The most effective and poignant cameo by one of Hitchcock’s ravens was an intelligent narrative technique. Oberoi, Deshmukh, and Shivdasani are at their acting best, bringing forth such powerhouse performances that I am sure this will be a turning point for their careers.

(By the way, the paragraph above is pure, dripping, scathing, murderous sarcasm. If you didn’t get it and ACTUALLY believed what I said, Grand Masti is your kind of film. You will love it. You will buy posters of it and stick it above your bed. You will even read the book)

After such torture, I wanted to play it safe. John Day stars Naseeruddin Shah and Randeep Hooda. What can possibly go wrong?

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I don’t know. I could not watch the film beyond the first 20 minutes. I have no idea what actually went wrong. I just know that those 20 minutes had me staring at the screen, bored and wanting to kill someone. And don’t you dare ask for the plot.

Sunday night, before the wonderful win that Man City had over Man United, we caught a comedy at NCPA. This play by Divya Palit, consists of four shorts and is called Foursome & 2+2. While I get why it is called Foursome, the ‘2+2’ left me confused. Four shorts + four more shorts? Or are you just trying to tell us, an 18+ audience that 2+2 is indeed 4? I ignored the niggling worry.

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I should have known better than to ignore my instinct.

Imagine sitting through FOUR comedies and not finding a laugh inside you for even ONE of them? You doubt yourself, you doubt the audience’s intelligence laughing all around you, you doubt the director’s abilities and wonder if she should be allowed to step on stage ever again…A small cast led by Vivan Bhatena and Aditya Hitkari saw stupid writing, stupid acting, stupid dialogues, stupid situations, stupid EVERYTHING! The play was so AARGHH-worthy, if I wasn’t with my partner in crime (and if we were not laughing at how un-funny was), I would have killed myself. Bhatena does a good job looking good. Hitkari is a good actor in a shit-piss play. Palit should just wear clothes she is comfortable in and won’t keep tugging over her muffin tops. She should also stop writing and directing plays. She should go away to Auroville and do penance – the stand on one foot kind – to save herself from the fires of hell for putting us through that.

The match was a saviour and the 4-1 score really lifted my mood (my PiC was left grumbling. He is a Red guy). What followed was a wonderful dinner at Veda. They were kind enough to invite me over to try out the new additions to the menu and I must say, it is quite a royal spread. We sampled paneer, chicken and lamb kebabs, the wonderful gravies and a nihari that deserves a bow. The gulab jamun and rabri shot really warmed my heart at the end of it all. By the time we were done, Palladium had gone to sleep. Compliments to the chef. A bad day was slowly turned around.

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Last night, I finally put my foot down. I started watching Phata Poster Nikla Hero, and 20 minutes into the film, switched it off. Shahid Kapoor, you are tremendously talented and I really believe in you. You still have time. CHOOSE THE RIGHT FILMS.

So, I started watching the first season of Numb3rs. I have watched two episodes. I know I will not be watching any more.

That’s that. Too much bullshit in the world. I am actually scared of watching The Lunchbox and The Good Road now. Cinema, my love for years, is behaving like a philandering spouse these days.  I am tired of being let down.

Lazy Shorts: A Bengali Overdose

Aami Aar Aamar Girlfriends (Me And My Girlfriends)

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I had thought that Mainak Bhaumik was nothing more than a pseudo-intellectual after watching Aamra (Us), his debut feature film. I did not quite change that opinion after his second feature, Bedroom, either. But Maach, Mishti, and More (More Than Just Fish and Sweets) did make me sit up and take notice of this guy’s innate ability to capture the pulse and whimsicality of the urban youth of Calcutta and the prevalent generation gap in the city. In Aami Aar Aamar Girlfriends (Me And My Girlfriends), Bhaumik does what he does best – Bengali stereotypes clashing with modern lifestyle and new money, cosmopolitan dynamics, risqué women, and a metro portrayal of Calcuttans. His characters are rich, wear brands, smoke-drink-fuck-swear, and will be indiscernible if plucked and placed in any other metro city. The film follows the lives of three bitchy BFFs in their sex-and-the-city journey of labels, labia bonding, and love. There is nothing new about the film other than being a commentary of urban Calcutta. Every city needs a commentary once in a while; a sort of update of the city’s demography in pop culture. While Bhaumik is definitely the go-to film maker for a commentary on today’s Calcutta, he must start working on substance in his scripts.

The cinematography and editing is classy and effectively crisp. The music is fresh and peppy. The women play their parts, though Raima is too much a slave of her mannerisms for her own good. Anubrata shines opposite Swastika. The supporting cast play their part.

Mr. Bhaumik, it is time to weave in a novel story into your narratives.

 

 

Shobdo (Noise)

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I have become increasingly fond of Kaushik Ganguly because of his last few films, especially Arekti Premer Golpo (Another Love Story) and Laptop. I have been extremely excited about watching Shobdo (Noise) and it was pure cinematic pleasure. The film follows the story of a foley artist (artists who dub the natural sounds in films artificially in studios during post-production) who starts losing himself in his obsession with sounds and strays from words and conversations. An interesting plot that keeps you hooked from the very first scene which excellently sums up the foley artist’s contribution to cinema. Without boring you, the film loops in studies and snippets of psychiatry and therapy which add relevance to the problem, along with asking poignant questions of social conformity. Ritwik and Raima have a beautiful chemistry, portraying a relationship balanced precariously on a tight rope. The sheer brittle quality of their marriage, the possibility of it falling apart very easily, and the hopelessness that encapsulates it all, is brought forth so delicately by the lead pair that your heart goes out to them. Ritwik’s eyes, the accusatory glare in the final scene of the film, speak millions in every frame, rendering speech almost unnecessary. Raima, the classical Bengali beauty that she is, provides the warmth and tenderness the film needed. The scene where husband and wife pretend to be foley artists in the jungle is so innocent and resplendent of marital bliss, you realize that marriage is but the craft of creating a fine balance. Churni, Victor, and Srijit make a responsible supporting cast. Mainak Bhaumik edits well while the cinematography captures the minimalism and gloom the film needed with élan.

Kaushik Ganguly might just have propelled himself into the league of Bengali film making royalty with this film – a textbook of craft, story, and above all, sensitivity.

 

 

Hawa Bodol (Winds of Change)

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Parambrata Chatterjee was just another know-it-all a few years back. But since his further studies in Bristol and a radical change in the films he chose and the way he projected himself, I have been most impressed with the man’s utter Bengaliness. He has that very prominent Soumitra-esque quality of being urban, but not uprooted. Even in panjabi-pajamas, he speaks English without an accent, a well-groomed bhodrolok, with a taste for the good life. After finding acting acclaim with Kahaani, his second directorial venture, Hawa Bodol (Winds of Change) is a well known story of soul-swapping which leads to hilarious consequences and eventually, deeper personal realizations. Two friends – one rich, settled, and bored and the other poor-freewheeling-musician – meet after ages and then have their lives swapped after a drunken night. Parambrata and Rudranil bring their off-screen bromance alive in the film, with a little help from Raima Sen. While Raima hardly pushes herself to do much in the film (not that she has much to do either), the two men do an entertaining job of switching roles from suave and sophisticated to callously street. Filled with heartwarming moments, where this film fails with script and storyline, it makes up for with natural performances, well-crafted dialogue, and good music.

One wonders though, why someone like Parambrata is falling short of original plotlines.