The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Film review: Rosogolla

Language: Bengali
Director: Pavel
Cast: Ujaan Ganguly, Abantika Biswas, Bidipta Chakaraborty, Rajatava Dutta, Kharaj Mukherjee, Aparajita Adhya, Chiranjeet, Shantilal Mukherjee, Kaushik Sen
Length: 2 hours 18 minutes
Release date: 21st December 2018

Je somoy niye bhabena, taake niye toh bhabtei hoy" ( If someone is oblivious of the time lost (in creation), I better take him seriously).

A confectioner says this in the film in respect of his potential competitor Nobin Chandra Das who is lost in the pursuit of invention of his dream dessert for years. This is what makes Rosogolla more than a sweet love story where the boy fights all odds to invent his girl’s dessert of desire and it simultaneously becomes an inspiring saga of perseverance of a creator. And that makes it a story that very much needed to be told.

Rosogolla is the real life story of the nineteenth century invention of Bengal's globally famed dessert (Rosogolla) by confectioner Nobin Chandra Das who took up the challenge in his early twenties to make a sweet of his lover's desire, nothing like which anyone had ever seen. He married Khirodmoni, his love, through the course of this and fulfilled her desire amid all kinds of misfortune, insult and unending failures that came their way.

Ujaan Ganguly as Nobin Chandra Das

The charm of the film is that it’s a simple story of Bengali’s favourite dessert that’s simply told. The story is penned well by Pavel and Smaranjit Chakaraborty, a well-known author. Pavel spins his yarn on screen with a main thread in a pleasingly unhurried pace and does not digress with sub-plots and unnecessary characters which is not unusual in a period piece. Though the storytelling approach is modelled on mainstream and lacks nuances in places and in some characters, it is thoroughly watchable. It is adorably garnished with dollops of old world charm of the nineteenth century Kolkata. The trivia of invention of Aam Sandesh and Baikuntho Bhog is also one of the attractions.

Having said that, the chemistry between Nobin and Khirodmoni needed better crafting. Many moments between them could be developed better. Also, the character of Baikuntho (Nobin’s partner) is over-the-top and Amritalal Banik (The patents man) is not well-etched.

Abantika delivers a fine and convincing portrayal of Khirodmoni in her debut. She brings out well the chirpy, tomboyish, yet level-headed girl who is the perfect foil to the unmaterialistic genius Nobin Chandra Das and his strongest pillar of support. Ujaan as Nobin shows promise in some scenes with measured delivery but surprisingly goes over the top in quite a few scenes. The story being centred on his character, the performance called for thoughtful handling and the director shares responsibility for this too. Rajatava as Kalidas Indra (The confectioner who was Nobin’s first employer and subsequent competitor), Kharaj as Mahesh, Nobin’s assistant, Aparajita as the golden-hearted zamindar wife and Bidipta as Nobin’s mother are well cast and play their parts well. Lew Hilt is a pleasant surprise as Paolo, the British gentleman who was a patron of the native culture. It has the historical character of confectioner Bhim Chandra Nag (played well by Tamal Roy Chowdhury) and another confectioner Ganguram also appears in a flash. However, Kaushik Sen doesn’t shine as Amritlal Banik with a stylization that doesn’t quite fall in place and Shantilal, with an awful wig, isn’t impressive as Chandu Babu/ Baikuntho except for the end appearance. Subhashree’s Hindi in the character of Malkhaan jaan, the tawaif  needed more attention.

Abantika Biswas as Khirodmoni

Music is a strength of the film and the earthy score of Kalikaprasad aid the storytelling brilliantly. Khodar Banda breaks out amid virgin rural landscape within a few minutes of the film, giving it a zesty start. Tapur Tupur, brilliantly written, composed and sung by Arnab Dutta is an immensely endearing love ballad. Supriyo Dutta’s camerawork brings out the era nicely. It was obvious that the production design had a woefully limited budget for a period piece and despite best efforts, outdoor shots of Kolkata stuck out unflatteringly which computer graphics couldn’t make good. Though it is not desirable in a period film, I would still like to overlook this blemish as it is a satisfying watch on overall consideration.

At the end, it suffices to say that every Bengali across the world should watch this film as it’s a story of our roots that is worthy of it.

#Rosogolla #BanglaCinema #NobinChandraDas

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