This is just the beginning of the director's journey into commercial cinema.
Anjan Dutt presents a slice of Kolkata and its wonderful, heart-warming, crazily diverse communities in
. However, the film is not steeped in the warmth and comfort of known spaces. So there's no Park Street (but for Park Hotel in a cameo role), rock music, dysfunctional families. For this venture, Dutt takes a walk — up north — and the title acts as his cinematic compass.
Ganesh Talkies (the theatre) straddles Burrabazar and
Kolkata, in the same way that
(the film) is about the two dissimilar communities — Bengalis and Marwaris — that make Kolkata what it is today. What emerges is a comic melange of feel-good nostalgia and bitter-sweet brotherhood.
The two men who anchor the movie are Pashupati and Pravin. Pashu, the Bong, has lineage and a grand old
but little money, while Pravin, the Maru, is all mercantile enterprise, having made his fortune in the
business after his father lost nearly everything while investing in films. He also owns the now-shut theatre, Ganesh Talkies. Despite having little common heritage, the two families are bound by ties of friendship. However, the deep-rooted, unreasonable dislike for the other community comes out when the kids of both families declare they are in love.
Alongside the family drama, Dutt weaves in themes that are relevant to our changing city. So there's the vulpine builder, measuring every old house in square feet. There's the housewife yearning for the 4 BHK penthouse in Rajarhat. There's Pravin's America-returned brother, who dreams of turning the shut theatre into a multiplex.
The film strengths are Biswajit and Rajesh — in superb, equally matched roles — and some of the peripherals. Parallel to the main romance track of Arjun-Sarbani runs the affair of the servants, Shibu and Mandakini. Taranga Sarkar is a revelation as the sex-starved but lovesick, Shibu. Koneenica is apt as the sharp-tongued Mandakini. Their item number,
, is hilarious and OTT, though it pops up without a hint. Pallavi plays the hassled Marwari housewife with conviction, while Shantilal as the stammering local tough is a treat.
is a marriage film and the core — the Arjun-Sarbani romance — comes across as a bit weak. Raima plays herself mostly, but Chandan looks ill at ease playing the unambitious loverboy. That they come from different communities should have made exploring the back story of their romance a lot of fun. But Dutt gives it little playtime, which is a bad miss, really. Neel's music is hummable.
Bengali household looks perfect, with the teak furniture and
and the harmonium, the Marwari home seems under-researched. Pravin's family is definitely Hindi-speaking, but Marwari? One can't say. A few touches — the morning
, the mandatory
, the hot
on a stainless steel plate, a few exchanges between husband and wife spoken in pure Marwari — would have made it perfect. But by Dutt's own admission, this is just the beginning of his journey into commercial cinema. Let's see what follows.