Iktarfa review: Palash Sen short film's simple setup is buoyed by charming central performance, gleeful music
Iktarfa is the the latest presentation under the banner of Large Short Films. As the title suggests, it is a tale of unrequited love. Set in a small town and garnished with generous helpings of local idiom, one cannot fault it for being eerily reminiscent of Tanu Weds Manu, especially when you consider its love triangle and wedding subplots. And although it never manages to break away and soar from its simple setup, it is buoyed by a charming central performance and the gleeful music and songs. Yes, you heard it right! Director Palash Sen, formerly the lead singer of the pop band Euphoria, lodges two songs into a 28-minute short film. I wasn’t expecting that to work. But in proving these doubts wrong, Sen creates a short film which, even as it reminds you of the lovelorn protagonists of his band’s music videos from long ago, nonetheless stands on its own as a fun, light, romantic comedy that never grows tiresome despite its lack of ingenuity.
Kinshuk Sen plays Hari Mohan Tripathi, cheekily nicknamed HMT, a young literary buff who falls for Pavitra Mattoo’s Sam the moment he sees her essay the role of Sita in the local 'Ram Leela' production. On the day he lands up at her house — his parents in tow — to ask for her hand, like countless Hindi films before it, he learns she is in love with MSD, the local strongman’s son, who’s equally cheekily named LSD. Our lovelorn hero, driven by the idealism gleaned from countless novels and poems, decides to help Sam move her relationship with MSD forward to its inevitable, small town end: marriage.
I reiterate, nothing new to be found here. Further, almost all the other characters come across as poor caricatures plucked from other small town-set Hindi films and turn in either forgettable or overtly keen, often even both, performances. MSD's character, in particular, broods and skulks along the edge of the narrative — mute, bulky and forever obscure. Sen seems to have a particular disaffection for him. He literally doesn’t get a line. In focusing exclusively on his two central performers, Sen reduces the overall impact of the film.
However, while the camarederie between HMT and Sam could have been far more intriguing, Kinshuk’s solid performance sees the film through its lean, otherwise tiresome patches. He nails the peculiar blend of innocence, sensitivity and the sliver of pride and naivete so often fostered by extensive reading. He gets the best lines. We evolve a tremendous sense of empathy for a character who, to the credit of the writer, is mercifully not written off as a loser, which is a great relief. More than anything else, it is a remarkably fun performance. The young man’s resigned to his fate, playing the deferential third leg, but without forgetting to speak his mind, in refined, beautiful Hindi while at that. That last bit, quite like so many more things that could have driven the movie down the well of cliche, somehow manages to appear charming. Sen is well aware he is creating a commercial romantic comedy film and he leaves no stone unturned in imbuing it with all the tropes that define the genre. Kinshuk and Sen’s confidence make Iktarfa well worth watching and enjoying.
Obviously, one wishes Sen had been equally mindful of the other characters populating his narrative. It is a fun film. It could have been rapturous had Sen spent more time developing the secondary performers. Their exchanges, especially in HMT and Sam’s absence, fail to register a blip on the radar, leaving us wishing for the two to return to the screen.
Sen chases the local scenery without shoving it down the audience’s throat; the cinematographer follows in a manner becoming of the task. The songs are download worthy, their visualisation contributing to the narrative. Tonally, Sen plays just fine, in keeping with a film intended to be enjoyed without exercising the old, grey matter too much. All in all, Iktarfa justifies its runtime, and even though it never breaks new ground, it makes amply clear it never chose to push the envelope anyway. By the time to be continued… appears on the screen, despite its abruptness, you will be well prepared to give the next one a shot.
Updated Date: Sep 04, 2018 18:35:20 IST
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