Onyo Opalaa is laced with powerful performances, and has a strong storyline, but it's a one-time watch that could have been way better had the script covered all the gaping holes.
Middle-aged widow Opalaa (Rupa and also Ritabhari, to portray the younger Opalaa) runs her inherited rural rajbari smoothly, dividing her time between household management and nostalgia. But her self-contained existence is shaken when she discovers that her son, Atanu (Moizz), has a lot in common with her deceased husband Shyam (Bhaswar), a disciple of Ananta baba (Nigel). Onyo Opalaa is a simple tale of a widow, behind whose stoic face lies a life full of compromises. I'd say it's a tale too simple and uncomplicated to entice today's audience. True, it's laced with powerful performances, and has a strong storyline, but, somehow, Opalaa's world seems to be an island in the middle of nowhere, unconnected to the rest of the world.
I say this because of some obvious disparities in the presentation. For one, Atanu is a young guy who lives and works in the US, constantly moves around with a handycam, video chats with his US-based lover on a laptop, but acts like a naive teenager who speaks Bengali with an American accent and never — repeat, never — uses a cellphone. In fact, no one seems to own a phone — mobile or otherwise. Even the doctor has to be brought home, not called over, as is the case everywhere in today's times. We can, of course, overlook that as a show of respect. A man — Ananta baba to be precise — dies for want of treatment after a doctor is supposedly called over. Given his condition — gasping for breath — it's only logical for the doctor to get him shifted to a hospital. But the story goes blank on that aspect. Is the doctor called in at all? No clue... Then there are mysteries that never get screen time. How does Pishima end up being a mute, bed-ridden invalid? How does Shyam die so young? Where does Pishima's daughter pop up from? Why does no one notice Ananta Baba is absent from an Odissi recital obviously held in his honour? Answers anyone? It's Rupa Ganguly and Bhaswar's good performances that basically holds the film together. Bhaswar, especially, is excellent as the effeminate Shyam. And his chemistry with Ritabhari, despite the lack of physical love between them, is really a great watch. Another highlight is the music, with the strong mix of folk and classical music giving you a different trip altogether.
is a one-time watch that could have been way better had the script covered all the gaping holes.