It has to be one of the most stunning endings in Bengali films in years. Don't miss it.
It could've been 'A Simple Tale Simply Told', but for me, the extended title of
is 'The Curious Case of Kaushik Ganguly'. Don't get me wrong — the film is not a thriller, whodunnit or spy caper. In fact, it is a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of relationships and of human character under extraordinary circumstances. Then why 'Curious Case' etc? Because in films (
) where the two personae of Kaushik come into play — the director and the actor — the latter is inevitably OMG breathtaking and the former is, 'hey, he's good too!' For me, that sums up the
Kaushik picks a busful of actors in meaningful if brief roles and spins a dramatic story around their travels and travails. The ensemble group is on its way from the Dooars to the Hills with various purposes. There are honeymooners, family vacationers, an ailing mother and her son, a priest and others. There is a bandh though, and after some initial uncertainty, the motley team manages to get a school bus that will ferry them to their destination. The group settles down with a sigh of relief as the bus rolls up the hills. All is well, it seems.
ALSO READ: My wife says, post lunch, I don't deliver my best — Kaushik Ganguly
But it isn't. Fate has other things in store. The wheels skid on gravel, the driver jumps off and the bus hurtles down the hill and rams into a tree. By the time the group regains composure, they're at the bottom of the ravine. There's no way of getting out before nightfall. But despite the serious accident, no one is badly hurt. Uncanny, you'd say?
The Khaad they are in is both a moral and spiritual abyss. Cut off from the world and without civilised comforts, the group seems to be descending into chaos before balance can be restored. But the true test of human character is the confession scene, where each person has to reveal their blackest secret. The film explores if there ever is a way out — not just from the valley but also from the dark depths of our own selves caught in purgatory.
As the timid and bheto son who's spent his youth looking after his ailing mother, Kaushik simply outshines the others. But I've already told you that. The real revelations are Lili Chakraborty as the bangal mother and Kamaleswar Mukherjee as the seasoned mountaineer. Who would know the
director could transform into such a rugged avatar on screen? Take a bow! The others oscillate between good and so-so, depending on their screen time and depth of character. Both Tanushree and Gargee fit their roles, as does Rudranil, the dimwit bus conductor who dreams of joining the armed forces. Tridha pouts well, while Mimi as the foul-mouthed newly-wed is adorable.
ALSO READ: Mimi would carry chits in her pocket for Math exams
But the real challenge was holding all the threads of the story together. Kaushik is up to the task for sure, though the multiple voices pull the narrative in different directions at times. There are many fine, heartwarming touches — the way Gargee's character, a famous actress, cares for her mentally challenged brother is one such. Some parts fall below par though, especially in the confession scene. While some secrets — like the bangal mother's — stun you and almost bring tears to your eyes, some of the others are quite blah and you can't but feel shortchanged.
But the real wallop comes at the end — knocking you in the gut with such force that you're numb with shock. Story turns to parable, the individual becomes universal and you're left asking if there really is a way out of the abyss that is human existence. It has to be one of the most stunning endings in Bengali films in years. Don't miss it.