Dir: Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy Year: 2016
‘Belasheshe’ the earlier film of the director duo Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy was a huge disappointment for me. But I decided to give them the benefit of doubt and walked into ‘Prakton’ with positive expectations. But sad to say, this was marginally better, and equally disappointing.
To start with the central plot device is contrived. Sudipa ( Rituprana Sengupta) being allotted a berth with the wife of her ex-husband ( Aparajita) and her daughter in a first-class coupe could be passed off as a coincidence. But the husband himself ( Prosenjit) entering the coupe at an intermediate station as a surprise birthday gift for the wife is a bit much. This contrivance could have been forgiven had it led to any credible exploration of relationships.
But the bickering between Ujaan and Sudipa is cliché ridden all the way and lacks any semblance of reality. Ujaan is accused of nurturing Me First attitude in everything…even in deciding to come first while making love. Why and how did she fall in love with a person like that? He wears T-shirts with slogans like ‘ Aboni bari achho?” and ‘ Jete paari kintu keno jaabo” and is supposed to be full of Shakti, Sunil and Dostoevsky, but we never hear him recite a line of poetry or talk about any of these characters even once. The behaviour of both is inexplicable most of the times. Why does Sudipa has to stuff currency notes into the wallet of her husband on the sly? If the wife earns more, she can surely give some money to him upfront! And she buys him shirts which lie in the wardrobe without the price tags being removed. And which wife plans a holiday with her husband in Kashmir and buys the flight tickets without checking with him once! I am yet to come across a couple who live like that. Then take the incident which leads to Sudipa walking out on the marriage. He has agree to his wife’s plan for a holiday in a resort. Then on the day she asks her to proceed alone, saying he will join her in the evening as has to take care of a walk which is pre-scheduled (He conducts Heritage Walks). This was weird enough. But wait for what happens next. It’s late evening and she calls him, “Where are you?” “At the crematorium,” he replies. “I will join you tomorrow morning.” Apparently his friend’s mother died of a heart attack and he has to be there for the cremation! And so he lets his wife be in the resort alone! Without even as much as making a phone call! Naturally, it is difficult to take such a film seriously.
The co-passengers on the train nether add texture to the main story nor give the feel of a natural train journey with a mélange of different passengers. The comedy between the newlywed couple is coarse and unfunny. Soumitra Chatterjee is there to read a Tagore story aloud and Savitri Devi for speaking some Bengalized Hindi for laughs. And the directors try to be the Bengali Sooraj Barjatya while staging the unending Antakshari with band musicians such as Anupam, Anindyo and Surojit. The whole proceedings seem like a packaged variety entertainment than a smooth flowing film.
Rituparna looks like a million bucks, but is too strident in her performance. The badly written character does not help. Prosenjit is decent too , but suffers again from a badly written role. Only Aparajita is natural in a role which is the best written one in the film, with a great degree of credibility.
“All you get from love is a love song’, so goes an old popular ditty. My take away from this two-hour long rigmarole was a couple of beautiful songs “ Tumi jake bhalo basho” and “Bhromor”.
- Tagore and Ghalib in Translation
- Transit for Beginners by Rheea Mukherjee