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Upperstall Review


Bor Ashbe Ekhuni


Bengali, Comedy, Drama, 2008

A young girl, Mithyl, comes from Siliguri to Kolkata to chase her dream of becoming a radio jockey. She shacks up with a load of girls in Kolkata. But all the girls have their tear-glands working overtime over their love stories and fed up, she goes flat-hunting. However, no one is willing to rent out a flat to a single girl. She meets Avik, a computer engineer at a bar where she has stepped in by accident. Avi falls in love with her at first sight but Mithyl is unaware of this. She requests Avik to pretend to be her husband so that she can get into the flat of her choice...

Intelligent wit comprised of scene twists and clever punches in the dialogue is something not seen in a long time in Bengali cinema. Rangan Chakraborty has broken this long silence with his first directorial film Bor Ashbe Ekhuni. The phrase, Bor Ashbe Ekhuni is part of a popular children’s verse that jokingly tells little girls how a groom will suddenly turn up and carry her away. The opening song, picturised against the credits like a fun number, begins with these words and goes on to play around with many similar child rhymes we learnt as kids, which then our children learnt when they were kids and are now teaching their own kids. It is a colourful number that is too garish in colour and costume, perhaps to set the mood of the film. The rest of the film, thankfully, is not quite so jazzy which would have taken the attention away from the comic element. But the title is a giveaway because it immediately links to innocent fun and intelligent humour. The name sets the mood of the film – it is a pro-wedding film with lots of fun and merriment.

The characters are exaggerated forms of reality, a necessary licence for entertainment films aimed at the funny bone of the audience. Mithyl’s ambitions juxtaposed against Avik’s dull Devdas-like attitude once he falls in love with Mithyl at first sight and jumps at the chance of pretending to be her husband, is a bit too spineless for the software engineer his friend claims he is. But then, who ever heard of becoming a radio jockey as an example of ‘burning ambition'? Tell us another! However, the only sign that Avik is indeed a software engineer is his visiting card he leaves behind for the sake of dramatic convenience later on in the film. He is good at everything from dishing up a hot dinner through cooking lessons from his godmother delivered on his cell-phone to nursing Mithyl back to health when she comes down with a virus to taking her place at the radio station and doing the advising on her behalf because she is ill, to taking in all her insults without turning a hair. “This Paro will kill you Devdas!” says his funny friend, a cameraman who has landed a mega serial, when he catches Avik pouring out a drink and casting soulful looks at nothing in particular. I would have chosen to remain single all my life rather than hitch my wagon to a software engineer who does everything but software engineering and who this girl can easily twist round the little finger of her left hand.

The fat old landlady is another funny bone gullible enough to believe that in-laws can easily forget their son-in-law’s name and that people have begun to look identical when she suddenly sees Avik, his friend and Mythil’s friend in a restaurant and they insist they are not who she thinks they are. Her "kee kando" is delivered with a punch so strong that it sends the audience into sidesplitting laughter every time she uses it either as a prefix, or a suffix or just by itself. Mythil’s parents are another cup of tea altogether. Mythil’s father feigns a heart attack that brings Mythil right back to Siliguri. He removes those tubes sticking out of his body as soon as she leaves and the pair follows her to Kolkata to hurriedly fix her marriage to a man who turns out to be a mental retard. Mithyl’s father’s speech turns into a babyish lisp which, when under pressure, becomes normal, leading to his wife getting angry, the new groom’s father taken by surprise and the audience laughing away. The kind landlady even tells the new groom’s father that he is ‘serial’ while she and Mythil’s father are ‘real’ because she has been made to believe the real marriage is actually a serial being shot in her home!

But all this happens only after the interval. The pre-interval footage, apart from the loud song number, is one big bore of a love story that simply fails to take off. The songs are very good and so is the music lilting and melodious but one wishes the director had not overdone himself in repeating the theme song so many times.

Koel as Mythil does a strictly so-so job, while Jishu Sengupta as Avik does not have much scope beyond casting soulful looks at everyone around. He does his best, however. But the fringe-characters – the landlady, Mythil’s parents constantly at loggerheads and Avik’s friend steal the entire show away from the lead pair.

The editing is slick in the latter half but tends to drag in the first half. If you are willing to surrender half of the gate money for the ticket, you can coolly walk into the theatre after the interval and not only will you not have missed much, but the part that you will get to see is actually the whole show! Soumik Halder’s cinematography is brilliant, switching and changing moods along with the changing moods of the film. The Kolkata streets shot at night as Avik rushes on his two-wheeler, the half-darkened room of the flat where Koel lives when she enters to tell Avik that she does not need him to play ‘husband’ any more, his hand holding the frying pan stuck in mid-air, is beautifully shot, edited and picturised. Both Koel and Jishu sparkle in this scene, perhaps the only moment before the interval that is aesthetic and emotionally moving at the same time.

For once, you get to watch wholesome family entertainment offered with a generous dose of honesty, a tad more romance than needed and a dinner where the side dishes are tastier than the main dish - a case of the tomato ketchup being tastier than the chicken cutlets!

Upperstall review by: Shoma A Chatterji

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