Mukherjee Da’r Bou movie review: A relationship drama packed with powerful ideas but marred by contrived climax

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Mar 20, 2019 15:19:20 IST

3/5

Language: Bengali

Rating: ★★★☆☆

From the production house that gave us the delicious little Haami last year comes yet another beautiful film – Mukherjee Da’r Bou. The first thing I would like to give the makers kudos for is the title of the film. I wouldn’t reveal too much of the story in my review, but I can tell you this – it is one of the most ingenious movie titles I have come across in recent times. The film itself is simple and yet packed with powerful ideas. And like Haami, it addresses a common household issue that has now become the part and parcel of every non-nuclear family.

Mukherjee Da’r Bou movie review: A relationship drama packed with powerful ideas but marred by contrived climax

Koneenica Banerjee in a still from Mukherjee Da’r Bo

The film tells the story of an average, nondescript middle-class family in the city of Kolkata. The Mukherjee household’s daughter-in-law manages the household while caring for her recently widowed mother-in-law, but just can’t seem to be able to win her affection. She has a distant on-and-off relationship with her husband, and a sweet school-going daughter to take care of. When nothing seems to be working between the two women in the household, the daughter-in-law takes a drastic step, which changes their lives – and the lives of everyone around them – forever.

I never thought that I would be saying this – but this is one saas-bahu relationship drama that I really enjoyed. The main reason for that is simple. The film places before us a voice of reason. It makes an argument for perspectives and encourages us to try and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and think. It is this clarity of thought that is the cornerstone of the film, its true message. The habit of seeing reason in the actions of someone you abhor is not an easy habit to inculcate, but director Pritha Chakraborty presses us to take the pains of doing exactly the same, promising us wonderful results. And I agree with her – because the moment you see yourself doing the same actions as the other person, those very actions you had hated all along suddenly begin to seem perfectly logical and justified.

If I were to be perfectly honest, when the film began, I found my attention drifting. Oh, there you go again – I said to myself – another emotional family drama. But as the film progressed, it began to grow on me. The relationship between the two women of the Mukherjee household went through several changes through the film's run-time, and I found myself enjoying the ups and downs, and the tides that came with them.

Koneenica Banerjee plays the role of the woman who has left her home and walked into a completely new family, giving up on a number of dreams on the way. She gives an admirable performance that can be both loud and nuanced, as the scene requires. Her motherly and daughterly instincts beautifully co-exist side by side and come forth in a moment’s notice – not seeming like she is acting at all. Anashua Majumdar is right on top of her performance, and her transitions between downright evil and pleasantly caring are both smooth and seamless. Her insecurities, fears, guilt and rage are all portrayed vividly on her face – making her character an utterly believable one. Her love for her granddaughter is genuine and sincere. And somewhere deep down, there is a corner of her heart that is not all barren and thorny. In an extremely important role, Rituparna Sengupta excels in her trademark calm manner, as she listens to both women patiently and tells them exactly what they need (not want, but need) to know.

There are two things which I did not like about the film. The first is the overall preachy tone. A film of this nature is bound to be somewhat sermonising, but the makers seem to have taken things a bit too far this time. While in Haami, this is a defect I was willing to overlook, thanks to the fact that there was a lot happening, here – the messages do seem to grow in density till the voice of reasoning becomes an incomprehensible din that threatens to suppress everything else.

The second drawback of the film is its climax, which seems extremely contrived. Moods, locations, motivations – everything seems to become unreasonable. While on this point of criticism, a subplot involving one of my favourite Bengali actresses – Aparajita Adhya – also seems to end on a sudden, jarring and unresolved note, despite the usual fantastic performance by Adhya.

Overall, Mukherjee Da’r Bou is a relationship drama of a dysfunctional family that no one – men, least of all – should miss. It tells us something extremely important about the many roles a woman plays, and the most important one among those multiple roles.

Updated Date: Mar 20, 2019 15:19:20 IST

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