Finally Bhalobasha movie review: Anjan Dutt’s film suffers from a weak script, held together by great performances
Finally Bhalobasha works primarily because of the performances which will keep you glued to your seats.
The notion of love as an ailment, a sickness, a disease has been around since time immemorial. The fact that love hurts more often than it soothes has been argued over and over again in countless songs, poems and stories. The forlorn state of the heart and the departure of all rhyme and reason from the mind has been stated as its effects. And almost always, the good old ailment of love has been touted – by such great minds as Plato to Paulo Coelho and others in between – to be one whose seriousness cannot be undermined, simply because it has no real cure. Anjan Dutt’s new film Finally Bhalobasha explores the idea of love from a similar perspective, through three different stories underscored with three ailments — with a fourth one, appearing right at the climax. And while it is a film where it is virtually impossible to dislike even a single actor’s performance, there’s not much to be said about the thread that strings the pearls together.
The film begins with the story titled ‘Insomnia’. At the behest of an unseen mother, and much to the chagrin of an unseen girlfriend, a young man (Arjun Chakraborty) has arrived at a small town and taken up the job of the secretary to a rich industrialist (Arindam Sil). The boss soon turns out to be a violent man with questionable ethics, who wouldn’t bat an eyelid before beating the life out of his wife (Raima Sen). Plagued by the plight of the helpless woman, the young man hatches a plan to help her escape. Easier said than done, though, because as it turns out – several men in the past have tried to do the same. And failed.
In the second story, titled ‘Arthritis’, a fiercely independent and somewhat strong-headed girl (Sauraseni Maitra) heads out into a rough night after a music gig, only to end up in the home of a jaded ex-Colonel of the Indian Army (Anjan Dutt), who literally picks her up from the street in a state of abject intoxication and brings her to safety. Acting cold and distant in the beginning, the girl soon begins to fall for the older man, who seems to be dealing with his own priorities elsewhere. Having never experienced the sort of sensitivity and affection that the elderly man displays, the girl is determined to persuade him, even if that means following him out of town.
The third and final story, titled ‘HIV Positive’, is about a male nurse (Suprobhat Das) working in a hospice in the hills of Darjeeling, and his beautiful relationship with a dying man (Anirban Bhattacharya). The nurse wants to be a professional boxer, but having not been able to do so, is forced against his will to make a living as a nurse. On one hand, he abhors the man he is forced to care for, and yet, on the other, he can’t help but marvel at the man’s undying spirit. It is this conflicting feeling in his heart that leaves him in a state of denial for the longest period of time, until a time comes when he finds his peace and accepts what he has always tried to run away from.
Dutt’s film works primarily because of the performances which will keep you glued to your seats. I can’t recall the last time in recent past when I have seen such terrific performances from everybody in an ensemble cast. My easy choice for the top of the lot would be Suprobhat Das as the discontented caregiver. What flair! When the Kanchenjungha makes a rare appearance on the screen and you still can’t take your eyes off an actor, because you’re afraid you might miss something, you know you are staring at a man who is exceptionally talented. Das’s angst, his body language, his physical transformation, his diction, his breakdown – everything makes ‘HIV Positive’, by far, the best segment of the film. Watch out for this man, and please, for heaven’s sake, let us see more of him in the years to come.
Das finds commendable support from an actor who is rapidly becoming one of my favourites from the young brigade – Anirban Bhattacharya. Watch him as he recites Richard III and Travis Bickle in the same breath – the artist in him dying to break free, flapping its wings and tragically failing to escape its diseased cage. Watch him as he reports to his nurse – his face laced with a heartbreaking mix of fear and embarrassment – that he has soiled his pants. This is an actor at the top of his game, and I hope he remains there.
Sauraseni Maitra and Anjan Dutt successfully convert a conventionally awkward situation into a perfectly credible one – much like Amitabh Bacchan and Tabu had done in Cheeni Kum. The extremely talented Maitra has a natural flair, and hence her acting comes across as effortless. Dutt is a fine actor himself and is perfect for the role he plays. Emoting is his strongest skill and he clearly practises the old-school belief that says, ‘less is more’.
Arindam Sil plays an obnoxious man with obnoxiously genuine flair, and it is very difficult to root for him in the film – hence his success as an actor. His character struts around with a swag that comes only with unsurpassable power, and an absolute lack of conscience. Sil perfectly conveys both, and that is exactly what the story needs. Arjun Chakraborty and Raima Sen play their parts well, but I also felt their roles could have been written better.
Indeed, what really didn’t work for me was the writing. The underlying motif of ailment came across as pretty forced in the ‘Arthritis’ segment. The denouement of the ‘Insomnia’ chapter was rather confusing, with the wife’s motivations neither clear not convincing. The entire idea of people falling in and out of love so casually also reeked of frivolity. But at the same time, Dutt did manage to capture and portray his central notion – that love is, after all, a serious disease. That, along with a wonderful jazz and blues influenced soundtrack by Neel Dutt, managed to keep me invested in the film, and thank God it did. Hell, I would have missed a few brilliant performances otherwise.
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