The flavour of Kolkata

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A take on ‘Mahalaya'

Language: Bengali
Director: Soumik Sen
Cast: Jisshu Sengupta, Subhashis Mukherjee, Prosenjit, Saptarshi Roy, Subhomoy Chatterjee
Length: 1 hour 48 minutes
Release date: 1st February 2019

Mahalaya takes us back to the historical incident etched in Bengali’s cultural history when an iconic radio programme on the day of Mahalaya famous for the chants of Birendra Krishna Bhadra was audaciously replaced by Akashvani with another program with the biggest ever filmstar Uttam Kumar as the star attraction.

Mahalaya had an interesting premise but the execution left a lot to be desired. The first few minutes involving a senior and powerful All India Radio official who catalyses the change of the iconic Mahalaya programme set the tone and texture of the film which rules out finesse. Prosenjit who plays the official Shashi Sinha delivers an exceptionally weak performance thanks to an unconvincing diction of Hindi and over-the-top portrayal full of familiar mannerisms. The same loudness is noticed in a key character Banerjee (Kanchan) and partly in Kolkata station director Stevenson (Jayant Kripalni).

In terms of direction, the narrative ends up as more documentative and less drama as it talks too much through dialogue and shows too less going against a hallmark of good cinema. Apart from some melodramatic bits, what mars the watching experience is unnecessary or careless intrusions of celebrities like Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey and even Rabindranath Tagore who is shown in a scene. I seriously wonder, couldn't the makers find out an artist who
would at least sound like Kishore Kumar?

Thankfully, Subhashish shows his class bringing to life Birendra Krishna Bhadra in a nuanced and understated performance and Jisshu does a somewhat decent job as Uttam Kumar (though more care should have been taken by the director to bring alive the biggest star in Bengali cinema).  Subhomoy Chatterjee as Pankaj Kumar Mullick is a laudable act and Saptarshi Roy as Hemanta Mukherjee is good too. One however wonders if the director has taken a little too much of creative liberty in developing the character of Hemanta making him overconfident and setting a wrong precedence of a guru-shishya relationship (with Pankaj in this context).

#Mahalaya #BanglaCinema #BanglaCinema2019 #BengaliCinema #UttamKumar

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