Sunday, March 09, 2008

Calcutta News

After a very long and anticipated wait, I finally got a chance to see the Malayalam movie called "Calcutta News". It just came to the theaters here in Kuwait only last week, but I have got to say that the wait was worth it and I certainly enjoyed the movie a lot.

I know that I am telling this amidst mixed reviews which I certainly did not bother to read or check in detail until I saw the movie. This is mainly because I have learnt that we have to see the movie for ourselves and decide whether it’s good or bad and not just listen or believe any or every comment that comes along the way as peoples taste in a movie and its subject differs from person to person. There has been many experiences where I was told a movie was bad, and when I watched it, I found it to be very good and similarly when I was told it was too good, I didn’t feel it’s good enough or rather it didn’t rise up to my expectations.

Blessy, the path breaking director in modern Malayalam cinema who shot to popularity after making critically acclaimed films like Kazhcha, Tanmathra and Palunku - is now back with 'Kolkata News'. Moreover, he is for the first time moving out of his favorite south Travancore locations to the East of India, to shoot a different mystery filled romantic story in Calcutta, much different from his earlier ones which dealt with family stories which revolved around the life of a middle class men and families in Kerala.

This is the first Malayalam film to be fully shot in Kolkata, even though a few scenes of G. Aravindan’s - Vasthuhara, Shyamaprasad's - Akale, Kamal's - Mazhayathum Munpe and T.V. Chandran's - Kadhavasheshan were also shot here. The veteran Cinematographer S.Kumar has done a great job in capturing the grimness of Songachi, its myriad alleys, the majesty of old Kolkatta, its trams, Howrah Bridge, Kalighat, Oberoi Grand and its elegance amazingly. Hence the camera tells its own story and the efforts to paint some captivating visuals on screen have been absolutely successful.

Blessy the writer and director, this time holds a mirror to metropolitan India's ugly underbelly of trafficking in women, sex rackets and how a middle class girl from Kerala gets caught in it. It certainly is a riveting cinema which exhibits emotional depth, visual richness aided by lovely music and above all the knock-out performances from the lead of Dileep and Meera. But I did feel that there was some missing element to the whole movie and can’t seem to explain or put my finger on what exactly is the problem.

Meera Jasmine as usual portrayed her character convincingly and did full justice to her part by portraying Krishnapriya's strength and vulnerability beautifully and ya so is the case with Dileep as he also portrayed his part really well. (Well I don’t care if some of you can’t agree with that fact, but they have certainly portrayed their part well.) In the film Dileep is portrayed as a very lovable guy and Meera's character is crucial for the development of the plot and is portrayed as an innocent music-loving girl who is central to the theme of the film.

Ajith Thomas (Dileep) is an investigative television reporter with a leading channel 'Calcutta News'. He grew up in Kolkata and lives with his mom and sister and is an active member of the Malayalee Samajam led by a president (Innocent) and his wife (Bindu Panickkar).His team at the channel includes news assistant Smita (Vimala Raman), and anchors Aruna (Manasa) and Sheela (Brinda).

One day Ajith bumps into a newly married Malayalee couple in a tram, but the guy is hostile when he sees that Ajith is a Mallu. However, while editing news one or two days later, he is shocked to find that an unidentified body found near Kalighat resembles the guy he met in the tram. Ajith's investigative nature comes into the fore as he goes about finding the mystery behind the brutal murder of the guy.

The guy was Hari (Indrajith), who had married an orphan Krishnapriya from Pattambi and brought her to Kolkata, before his brutal murder. Krishnapriya is unaware of her husband's job or what he does for a living and is shattered to know about his death. However hope floats into her life after Ajith becomes her protector and also gets attracted to her for her innocence and their mutual love for music. The story then moves back and forth, delving into her past and revealing the blooming romance between them.

During the course of his investigation he falls in love with the innocence of Krishnapriya and her love for Hindustani classical songs. He also finds that Hari was one of the henchmen in a sex racket that traps innocent girls and sells them. Ajit along with his friends try to unravel the sex racket which operates from Sonagachi, the largest red-light area in eastern India using their television channel after Krishnapriya gets kidnapped by the sex racket gang. The film makes a strong statement against the trafficking of women and sex trade in big cities which are dependent on the gullible girls from villages across India including Kerala who are lured into it by middle men who con them into marriage. The dark and depressing side of the city, where women get sold, bought and used in the hundreds, houses of pleasure etc have been shown in such a way that it pulls at your heart. Blessy has a solid plot with an emotional core that pulls your heart strings like his previous films.

A significant aspect about the film is its music, composed by Debjyothi Mishra, an associate of the legendary Salil Chowdhary. He has provided music for films like Chokker Bali, Raincoat etc. There is an evident Malayali flavour in the compositions and there is Bengali and Hindustani music as well. The lyrics have been penned by Vayalar Sharath Chandra Varma. The melodious song - ‘Engu ninno vanna panchavarnakili…’ and the peppy number – ‘Kannadi kootile kowmara thumbikal….’are very capturing.

Calcutta News is a vital, sardonic and disturbingly brave attempt within the commercial film format at good meaningful cinema that also entertains. In fact it has strengthened my decision to help unfortunate girls caught up in sex rackets.
Details:
Producer: Thampy Antony
Director: Blessy
Cast: Dileep, Meera Jasmine, Indrajith, Vimala Raman, Innocent, Bindu Panicker, Maanasa, Unni Shivapal, etc
Music: Deb Jyothi Misra

7 comments:

--xh-- said...

good review.. i want to watch this movie... love the songs.. they r too good. some of my friends liekd it and soem said it is like a documentery, but good. i am just in love with the songs...

Enigma said...

@xh

ya i'm in love with the songs too..its so enthralling...humm there is a missing element to the movie...but still i did like it a lot...and the sex racket part and all is so scary and its more scary to know that all this is indeed happening on a daily basis..

Akinogal said...

See Here or Here

Cockroach said...

Didn't read ur review. Most probably I'll c the film tomo. Will read it afta that.

Cockroach

Roshan R said...

waiting here in Pune for this movie too.. my friends too spoke highly of it saying its one of the better ones in recent times...after kathaparayambol

Enigma said...

@cockroach

yup u better c it and then read..thats wat i did...

Enigma said...

@roshan

well ya its a really good movie..i went with high expectaions for kathaparayumbol also...but somehow it didnt rise up to my exp...it was okk