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Upperstall Review


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Premer Kahini


Bengali, Drama, 2008, Color

Cast And Crew

Akash (Dev) a happy-go-lucky, good-for-nothing only child of doting and stinking rich parents, falls in love with Barsha (Koel Mullick) at first sight when he catches a glimpse of her stepping out of a shopping mall. He is so captivated by that very first glimpse that he slips and falls into an open manhole next to his car. An amused Barsha pulls him out and then drives away, laughing at the mess his face and body have become. But Barsha has dropped her brand new wristwatch with a heart-shaped dial during the rescue act giving Akash the perfect chance to go looking for her to return the watch. But luck fails him each time and he keeps the watch like a lucky mascot to be used when he will finally meet her. Akash’s mother tags him along to attend the wedding of a childhood friend’s daughter away to the hills. The daughter, betrothed to one Gautam (Jisshu Sengupta) who had once saved her ex-colonel father’s life on the front, turns out to be none other than Barsha. The girl, spoilt rotten by her parents, pokes fun at Akash all the time, ridicules him no end, rebuffs his confessions of love, only to fall in love with him. The two decide to take their parents in confidence. But Akash, who has grown very close to Barsha’s ex-colonel father (Ranjit Mullick), requests his girlfriend to forget their love and marry Gautam as her father is a walking time-bomb carrying a bullet in his stomach, ready to explode but of which the family knows nothing. Gautam and Akash meet dramatically while Gautam is on his way to get married, and Akash is getting himself dead drunk. However, Devdas, a rabbit Akash has saved and taken in as his pet, carries the sad Barsha’s love note right into the mandap as Gautam is about to exchange garlands with his decked up bride. Of course, everything ends happily ever after!

Ravi Kinnagi is an intelligent young man. He writes, directs and edits his films himself and even writes the screenplay. He borrows generously from big box-office grossers in the South and relocates them within the Bengali ambience. The audience laps it all up because they have never seen the original. He has the guts to pack in newcomers and Jeet made his strikingly successful debut in Saathi directed by Kinnagi. He puts in a lot of action and fight scenes, song and dance numbers ‘inspired’ by popular Hindi masala and generally has a storyline that makes for a wonderful recipe of a ‘family drama’ the Kinnagi way. Kinnagi is also a metaphor for the widening of the geographical canvas of Bengali cinema because he belongs to Orissa though he has now made Kolkata is home. Other stalwarts and newcomers from the Orissa film industry and actors from Bengal are happily changing places between cinema of the two states, making for a stable marriage between the otherwise unfriendly but similar cultures.

People ignorant about Kannada films will not learn that Premer Kahini is the Bengali remake of the hit Kannada film Mangaru Male, the version rights for which were bought by Venkatesh Films at a record price in the history of Bengali cinema. Shot on an astounding budget of Rs.2.5 crores, the best thing about the film is that a major portion of the film has been shot against picturesque backdrops of beautiful locations of Bangalore, Shakleshpur, Malkote and Jog Falls.

Unfortunately, the script quality is uneven, very slow and dragging in the beginning, picking up a little after the interval to speed to an action-packed, sentimental melodramatic climax. The story is full of loopholes so big that a circus lion will easily be able to execute his gracious leaps through them. Firstly, the ‘love-at-first-sight’ theory falls flat on its face because when Akash sets his eyes on Barsha, a strong wind is blowing, throwing Barsha’s hair all over her face. So, how and when does Akash catch sight of her ‘face?’ Secondly, no manhole is as shallow as the one we see here that allows the young girl to just stretch her hand to pull him out. Thirdly, Barsha’s ill-mannered behaviour from minute zero well till half the film is over is enough to send love go flying out of the window. But this is a mainstream masala film so the theory of ‘willful suspension of disbelief’ is in full throttle, making uneasy questions totally redundant. There is no baraat when Gautam comes to marry and his family background is kept totally black. Why? Akash, who drinks himself tipsy at the country bar, suddenly stands ramrod straight when he has to get into a fight to save Gautam from the mafia goon. How? To Kinnagi, obviously all this does not matter.

Dev is a young man to watch out for. He has the image that a screen hero requires that is rare in Bengali cinema – a good height, well toned body and to some extent, the looks. But they are all very rough and need to be honed and polished with care to make the diamond shine with sophistication, polish and finesse. In the first half, his acting is plastic and hollow but as things get serious and emotional, he does manage to be low-key and effective. Koel Mullick is okay in the serious parts but is just not able to restrain her over-acting and over-reacting with exaggerated frowns and puckered eyebrows and gesticulating hands. Ranjit Mullick is completely miscast as an ex-colonel because the screaming, the shouting and the rifle-shooting bit just don’t suit his gentle style. Jisshu Sengupta is very good in a special appearance. He is maturing every day as an actor. Shyamal Dutta as Akash’s father is too loud. Kalyani Mandal as Barsha’s mother and Moushumi Saha as Akash’s mother as like any K-serial mother, perhaps multiplied several times.

Jeet Ganguly’s musical score is somewhat ‘lifted’ from hit Hindi numbers and some are original. The dance numbers have tried their best to duplicate Hindi dance numbers only to fail both by reason of bad choreography and the dancers’ obvious lack of skill never mind the joint choreography by three choreographers imported from Bollywood. Naidu’s cinematography is extremely good in the locations, capturing the greenery of nature, the whiteness of the hillscapes against the azure blue of the skies and last but never the least, the rains in all their splendour. Almost 60% of the film has been shot in the rainy season, enriching the visual texture of the film.

All the huge loopholes notwithstanding, the wolf whistles and the catcalls in the full-house auditorium on a bandh day is a pointer to whether the film, in its fourth week running, is going to be a hit or not. Dev has a plethora of fans among the males in the audience while the younger females are keeling over in admiration.

Upperstall review by: Shoma A Chatterji

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