Konttho movie review: Shibu-Nandita's film struggles to rise above its ordinariness, clichés
The core flaw in Konttho is that it is a very poorly written film
castJaya Ahsan, Koneenica Banerjee, Paoli Dam, Paran Bandopadhyay
directorShiboprosad Mukherjee, Nandita Roy
Last year, Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy – more popularly known as the filmmaker duo Shibu-Nandita in Bengali film circles – gave us an absolutely brilliant movie. The part-funny, part-tearjerker Haami deftly tugged at the heartstrings of its audience with just the right mix of humour, emotions and social message, and came across as one of the most popular films of the year in the Bengali cinema industry. This year, the director duo returns to give us another offering which showed great promise in its very premise. But sadly, Konttho just does not live up to its promise.
Arjun, a popular radio jockey in the city of Kolkata, is shocked to learn that he has a cancer growing in his throat. When he loses the most precious treasure of his life – his voice – to the disease, he is left with no hope or reason to live. Even his family – a caring wife Pritha and a loving son who think the world of him – now seem distant to him, because they simply can’t understand what he is trying to say. Despite the patience and compassion of his friends, family and colleagues, Arjun slowly begins to sink into depression. Enter a speech therapist, Romila, who, through a fortuitous turn of events, agrees to help him. The rest of the story is all about how Romila helps Arjun get his voice (and life) back.
As with several of their earlier films, Shibu-Nandita’s Konttho too is based on an important social message – that patients of Laryngectomy need neither feel helpless nor, for that matter, voiceless. It’s a film highlighting a social cause, and like all films that choose to do so, it ought to have been handled with great care, ensuring that its ‘mediocrity’ from a cinematic standpoint should not have an adverse impact on the story of the victims of the disease it talks about. Alas, that is exactly what happens with Konttho. From its very first scene, the film turns out to a pretty ordinary affair, and at no point throughout its running length does it rise above that ordinariness. And it’s not difficult to see where the problem lies, because it certainly doesn’t lie in the performances, or at least in the willingness to put in a good one.
The core flaw in Konttho is that it is a very poorly written film. As with most films of this kind (the one that immediately comes to mind is Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech), one always knows that there would be very little to deal with in terms of events. And of course, one has to come to terms with that fact and adjust the writing accordingly, giving the film some much needed balance, so to speak. But unfortunately, Konttho rushes into the crisis of the story far too soon, never wanting to focus on Arjun’s popularity or his life before the disease. The results are predictable. With very little to work with now, the film succumbs to the lure of clichés, one after another, until it wears itself thin, beyond any redemption whatsoever.
All of this has a visible impact on the performances as well. Shiboprasad Mukherjee, despite being a fantastic actor, and despite putting his best by way of the performance of a voice artist who has lost his voice, just can’t seem to save the film. There are scenes, in which it is difficult to say who is more frustrated – Shiboprasad the actor-director, or his character Arjun. It is equally frustrating for the audience to see that all his efforts are going down the drain. The emotion that I went through in these scenes was not of anger – one of watching a bad film, but more of melancholy – of seeing a fine team trying to put together a fine film, and failing. Both Paoli Dam and Jaya Ahsan are wasted in two important roles, and once again, that’s sad because one can see they were trying their best. It’s just that they never received any support from the writing at all. In a cameo, Paran Bandopadhyay plays a Laryngectomy patient who has found a way to regain his lost voice, but he too is wasted in a once in a blue moon case of poor performance. Koneenica Bandyopadhyay appears in what could have been a powerful role, but as with all the other characters, is poorly written.
Konttho also suffers from very poor editing, with scenes coming and going with almost no semblance of sensitivity towards the situation, so jarring at the transitions, that it leaves you hopeless beyond a point. Even the camerawork is nothing to write home about. Perhaps the only solace I found was in one of the songs, the one titled 'Obak Jole', written, composed and performed by the oh-so talented Prasen. It was while this song was playing on screen, that I saw a glimmer of hope that Konttho might somehow find its footing after all. But I am extremely sorry to report that it didn’t. I have not felt so let down by a film in very long time.
While Hart does put on a show and comes on with a few surprises playing a father grappling in an uncharted territory, the film leaves much to be desired.
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