There are a lot of short films that are made in West Bengal every year, but, only a few of them stand out. ‘Magic-The soul never perishes’ is one such film. The story is nothing special and has been seen in different formats before. Yet, what primarily sets the film apart is the fact that it is made by a very young crew, who have given a clichéd story, a vibrant new treatment. The screenplay is by Sanjib Banerji, who has adapted it from a short story written by him. A rather simple story has been presented smartly by Sanjib Banerji, who has made sure that the pacing is just perfect enough not to let the audience loose interest in the storyline for even a second. The direction by Sanjoy Dasgupta is effective and brings about a youthful energy in the film.
It would be unfair to give away the story, so, no spoilers here. All you need to know about the film is that it is the story of three friends-Gulshan, Rupam and Dodo, who calls himself the Magic Man, and is the problem solver of the group. Yes it is kind of a love triangle, but with a twist. The story revolves around an assignment Gulshan takes up as a trainee journalist. The assignment needs her to confront a social evil, and makes her end up in serious trouble.
The actors have done their jobs rather well. Nandini and Prantik are terrific as the young lovebirds – Gulshan and Rupam. It must be noted that the voice of Nandini had to be dubbed by Priya Sarkar due to some issues with the availability of actors for dubbing. Priya has added a fiery vibe to Gulshan and has done an amazing job even without knowing the script from beforehand. Arnab Bhattacharya as Nandini’s Boss doesn’t act, he becomes the character he is playing, and he shines even in a supporting role.
However, Joy Dey steals the limelight with his innocent charm and amazing screen presence. His chemistry with Nandini is quite good and makes their scenes together, or rather, conversations, interesting.
As for the technical aspects, the film has been ably shot by Ankkit Sengupta. His frames capture the essence of youth beautifully and add to the energy of the film. The film would have been visually better if a little color grading was done.
Along with so many positives, the film is brought down by some negative factors too. The dialogues swing from being matter of fact and realistic to downright cheesy from time to time. There seemed to be excessive talking about smoking in quite a few scenes of the film. It is borderline preachy at times. Also, the representation of feminism is a bit clichéd. In order to establish a protagonist as a strong, independent woman, it is not compulsory to show that she smokes. There is a lack of character development too. Especially, the character of ‘Magic Man’ needed some more build up in order to make the climax more soulful.
The editing by Sumit Banerg was effective, but could have been sharper. The sound design was a bit jarring at points, and the dubbing was not uniform. I guess seasoned editor Atanu Dasgupta (Editor of Mega Serials like Raashi and Agnipariksha in ZEE Bangla) has not taken this short film very seriously. Otherwise the editing part could have been much sleeker and sharper. However being a youngster Sumit Banerg tried his level best to give a proper shape to ‘Magic’ and he is quite a bit successful in his work.
But, overall, it is a spectacular attempt and the hard work done by the crew reflects on screen.
The biggest USP of the film is that it makes you connect with the characters and feel for them. Another factor that really adds magic to the film is the use of music. The retro song reconstruction by Shameek Kundu & Chayan Chakraborty from the Bangla band DESH has lifted even the most mundane scenes to a different level. Renowned vocalist cum Medical Practitioner PSB / Dr. Parthasarathi Bhattachrya of Bangla Band: Ekalabya has sung the climax song soulfully and has upped the emotional quotient considerably. The songs have been selected and supervised by the screenplay writer & creative director Sanjib Banerji, who seems to know how to hit the right chords with the perfect amalgamation of audio and visuals. The climax song was conceived and incorporated in the film in order to pay a tribute towards the immortal musical genius and great composer, the late Madan Mohan & the Nightingale of Indian Cinema Lata Mangeshkar.
However, the flaws do not make the film any less entertaining, and do not have any doubts that it is a fun watch. The film’s core crew and cast, including the character were barely 16-17 years old when they made this film, and, this is a huge achievement for them and hats off the producer Santanu Chakraborty for supporting this venture. ‘Magic’ is a very good first film. Not many teams can come up with something this complete in their first attempt at filmmaking. The accolades this Kolkata Short Film received at the Chitrabani Kolkata Film Festival and Kolkata International Short Film Festival is proof of this.
Movie Review by Abhirup Ghosh –
Abhirup is the director of Cult Films and has directed popular short films like ‘Love in the period of Globalization’ and Sando Da – Year One. He was awarded as the ‘Best Director’ for his film ‘Sando Da- Year One’ at a Short Film Festival, which took place in Bangalore.
Abhirup’s third directorial venture, titled ‘Chhobi v/s Boi will be premiered at the Kolkata International Short Film Festival 2013, organized by Chitrabani. Apart from making movies, Abhirup takes keen interest in watching cinema, creative writing and photography.