Yet another socio-psychological drama released last Friday – director Atanu Ghosh’s Ek Phaali Rodh. The film deals with, what in social psychology is called, Bystander Effect – a phenomenon in which passers-by on streets don’t come to help strangers in crisis.
The film begins with a social scientist Dr. Shomshankar Roy (Dhiritiman Chatterjee) hiring Anwesha (Aparajita Ghosh) and Swagato (Ritwick Chakraborty) for a project on bystander Effect – seeking to find out how much of compassion and humanity is still left in human beings. The experiments of creating mock crisis on streets of Kolkata go on fine and soon interest the famous blind writer, Pratim (Tota Roy Chowdhury) who is searching for an interesting plot for his new love story. Anwesha who saves Pratim from an accident one night and helps him cross the road safely appears quite naturally inclined towards compassion. Swagato too is seen as a much compassionate lover to Rupa, (Mahua) and helps her with her much ailing cancer patient mother, both physically and financially. Pratim too is later seen as a much sensitive and kind person. The only person out of the humane and compassionate mode seems to be the celebrity singer, Joy (Jisshu Sengupta), Anwesha’s fiancée. He often mocks Anwesha’s project and even once derides Dr. Somshankar for his pseudo-experiment. Then one day everything changes – when all these people go out for a trip outside Kolkata and Rupa suddenly goes missing. Each of them is seen reacting to this new crisis in their own way. A web of distrust, doubt, anger, blame-game and despair is soon weaved in the plot, which only gets resolved in the end and with Joy undergoing a strange change.
Brilliant subject! Good story with a good beginning. But then where does it all lead to in the end? Though instances of human ego and selfishness are propped against incidents of compassion and helping strangers (like when Swagato’s father helps a local shopkeeper and when an absolute stranger rescues the former from a goon attack), at the end of it, one wonders if the whole story was about discovering and resurrecting the humanity and moral responsibility of just a single person. Though socio-psychologically extremely relevant and pertinent a question in today’s milieu, the story of Ek Phaali Rodh hardly depicts a bigger mass awakening or even the incidental involvement of the larger society in which these characters are set. The crisis gets resolved and life goes back to normal perhaps – with just one convert at the end of it all. Quite an anti-climax to such an important and huge social subject!
Nevertheless the actors in the film have done justice to their characters. Dhritiman Chatterjee as Dr. Somshankar appears aptly stoic, pragmatic, poised and sensible, with his steady underacting. Ritwick as Swagato is good. He depicts the middle class and much hassled Swagato well. Jisshu as the indifferent and pragmatic yet often loyal and emotional Joy is brilliant. One cannot not be glad to see this much underrated actor deliver some of his bests in the recent times. Tota, on the other hand, as the blind writer Pratim, is the best of the lot. His subtle underacting, his exact body-language to portray a visually challenged person and his naturally heart-warming smile to depict the much friendly, sensitive and compassionate writer is worth much appreciation. Mahua as Rupa is convincing. Aparajita Ghosh disappoints to an extent with her predictable and typical style of acting. Rudranil Ghosh in a very short guest appearance is just about ok. But the cameo done by Arunima Ghosh is striking and she is as convincing and good as ever.
The storyline and screenplay disappoints. The acting by some very good actors compensate; but to what extent? The technical aspects are again a let-down. One surely misses the otherwise brilliant cinematography of Soumik Halder here. There is hardly any attention grabbing visual treat or camera work in this handiwork of his. Nor has the director Atanu Ghosh played with or offered much in terms of interesting and innovative frame composition or shot-taking. Coming to edit, one can’t really blame editor Sujoy Dutta Ray for the much plain and lack-luster edit. Edit of a film takes place in two different plains – the first narrative edit happens at the screenplay level and the second technical one on the post production edit table. And if the first narrational edit itself is lack-luster and un-intriguing then the editor at the edit table might not have much to add, offer or salvage. And such is the case in this film.
Music is the one fresh and nice element of the film. Suchandra Chowdhury’s lyrics matched with Joy Sarkar’s music falls soft and soothing, nice and fresh upon our ears.
Overall, a brilliant and extremely relevant subject, a not so brilliant storytelling and screenplay, some real good acting and some not so good technical aspects – all together makes Ek Phaali Rodh an average viewing experience.
New Bengali Film Ek Phaali Rodh Premiere
Sholoana Bangaliana Rating: 4/10
New Bengali Film Ek Phaali Rodh Review By:
Ms. Nivedita Dey is a Post Graduate in English from Stella Maris College, Chennai and has been working in the films and television industry since 2006 as a story and script writer and creative consultant. Nivedita has written for TV programs for channels like Star Jalsha, Life OK, Star Plus, Channel 8 etc. Nivedita has spent quite a few years in Mumbai working in the entertainment Industry there and is currently based in Kolkata and has worked as a writer and creative consultant for Kolkata’s leading Production House.
Nivedita has keen interest in literature, cinema, social and political issues and enjoys expressing her views by way of guest blogs and articles in popular columns and web portals.
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