Network movie review: Saswata Chatterjee can't save this poorly written, needlessly long film
Saptaswa Basu’s Network may have a good plot, but the script is poorly written.
castSaswata Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Rini Ghosh, Bhaskar Banerjee, Indrajit Mazumder
There is a scene early on in Saptaswa Basu’s film Network, where a character passes by a television set, and in a blink-and-you-will-miss-it moment, you see a film playing on the television. That film is Australian filmmaker Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, in which a skilled and somewhat ruthless showrunner Ed Harris manipulates and controls the life of an unsuspecting do-gooder – played beautifully by Jim Carrey – in the eponymous reality television show that is being watched by millions of people around the world. Call it an Easter egg, or call it a tribute, but Basu’s film has a somewhat close (and certainly healthy) resemblance to Weir’s remarkable film, where one man decides to play God by controlling other people’s lives with the help of technology. But while Weir’s deft touch and Carrey’s career-best performance made that film what it is today, Basu’s attempt comes across as an amateurish one, plagued with problems in virtually every department that I can think of.
A washed out filmmaker named Abhijit Ganguly is running from pillar to post trying to make his new film, but things take a dismal turn when he learns that he has cancer. With only a few more days left to live, Abhijit vows to make a swansong film that he will be remembered for. Things do not work out for him, thanks to several people who betray his trust. With nothing left to lose now, Abhijit decides to take revenge in a strange, obscure and rather far-fetched manner.
Basu’s film may have a good plot, but the script is poorly written. For almost an hour or so of this rather unnecessarily lengthy film, one does not even understand what is going on and why we are being shown what we are witnessing on screen. This uncomfortable feeling of being lost and clueless would not have been so problematic, if only these scenes would have been more condensed. You see prolonged sequences depicting flows in the story – which could have been shown in crisper and far shorter sequences. Even the dialogues are poorly written, and on several occasions, you can literally see the more seasoned actors of the film bringing in their own ‘fillers’ to cover up the gaps in the rhythm of the dialogues.
Taking about performances, Saswata Chatterjee makes his best effort to give a convincing performance, and shines in some scenes – for instance when he has a showdown with a big-shot producer who is eyeing his script. But even a veteran actor such as Sabyasachi Chakraborty does a job that can be considered passable at best. We have not seen a memorable performance from Chakraborty in a long time now. Chatterjee, on the other hand, botches up some scenes so royally that it is difficult to believe that this is the same man who gave us so many intense performances over the years. However, the deep sense of frustration that his character feels is portrayed with great conviction. As for two other key characters in the film (both assayed by relative newcomers), I have to say that despite utterly ordinary performances, I saw some promise in Indrajit Mazumder, as opposed to Rini Ghosh, who showed none. I have a feeling that a good director can bring the best out of Mazumder, and with the right script, the young man would shine, provided he consciously avoids some of the mistakes he made in this film.
The editing, cinematography, music and lyrics are all ordinary, and give the impression of either being hurriedly worked upon, or not taken seriously at all. Needless to say, in cinema, one is as unpardonable a crime as the other. I think what Basu needs to do is a lot of introspection, and he needs to invest some time in honing his craft and take it several notches ahead of where it stands today, if he wants to make meaningful contributions to cinema.
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