Rong Beronger Korhi movie review: Anthology on 'colour' of money is an evocatively crafted experience

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

May,05 2018 13:38:48 IST

3.5/5

Constant proximity to something is supposed to bring in familiarity. However, over a sufficiently prolonged period of time, it can also lead to our overlooking the many aspects of the object in question, leading us to take its many hues for granted. Ranjan Ghosh’s debut film Rong Beronger Korhi proves this, and how! In this anthology film, Ghosh brings forth the many colours (or notions) of a lifeless object such as money and examines them through the lens of a wide range of human parameters.

All four stories are fairly simple, and therein lies their beauty. On the day of Holi, a desk clerk working for a lawyer in the panchayat office of a remote village in Birbhum is approached by a poor couple who can’t seem to stand each other. The man and woman are looking for divorce, and the obliging clerk is only too happy to offer it to them, in exchange for money. A strange turn of events ends up making things a tad difficult for him though, and that’s what the rest of this O Henry-ish tale is all about.

In the second story, the young wife of an aged and affluent businessman receives the news that her husband has passed away in an accident while sailing home across the river on a night of thunderstorm. The wife’s reactions to the news seem strange, though, for she is now the sole owner of her husband’s entire estate. However, in a freak turn of events, she is unable to enjoy either her newly earned freedom or the wealth that her loving husband has left behind for her.

Still from Rong Beronger Korhi

Still from Rong Beronger Korhi

The third segment of the anthology tells the story of a young man in the city of Kolkata who has just lost his job due to demonetisation, which further results in his fiancée leaving him for good. As the man wanders the streets — disgusted, dejected and disillusioned — a pimp offers to take him to a prostitute for a shot of love. As the young man starts talking to the beautiful middle-aged woman, he learns a shocking truth that will change his very outlook towards money.

In the final story, a poor village lad is to go to the city on the occasion of the Durga Puja, where he intends to earn some money by playing the dhaak at the festival. As his ailing mother prepares him for the journey, he hopes to return home with his earnings so that he can buy her medicines. Fate, unfortunately, has other plans for him.

All four stories are beautifully shot and executed with great skill. The pace is languid, and the mood ranges from comic to sombre, all at the right time. The camera embraces everything in its frame with great love and fondness and the rural scenes, in particular, are breathtakingly beautiful. Cinematographer Sirsha Ray knows his light and shade, his blurs and silhouettes in and out and they heighten the film’s mood to a commendable degree. Debajyoti Mishra’s background score is haunting, to say the least, and the economy of the composer deserves a special mention.

The best thing about Rong Beronger Korhi, however, is its performances. Kharaj Mukhopadhyay is so deeply steeped in the middle-class Bengali milieu that every time I see him on screen, I am reminded of the greatest actor to ever grace Indian cinema — the veteran Tulsi Chakraborty, whose acting didn’t seem like acting at all. No actor in modern Bengali cinema has held on to that legacy as beautifully as Mukhopadhyay. Soham Chakraborty and Arunima Ghosh turn in some brilliant performances as well, with Ghosh almost unrecognisable in the two roles she plays. Rituparna Sengupta and Chiranjit do what they do best, and as has now become a habit of his, Ritwick Chakraborty lights up each frame he appears in with his magnetic screen presence. With such brilliant actors on his roster, writer and director Ranjan Ghosh couldn’t have possibly gone wrong.

The film is not without its flaws, however. There are times when the pace seems a little too languid for comfort, and one has to make an effort to stay invested. There is also at least one story which turns out to be quite predictable, and slightly better writing could have given it a whole new meaning. The narration also comes across a bit too forced and over-(voice)acted. Although these are small defects in an otherwise beautifully crafted film, they show, and it is difficult to ignore them.

Another interesting aspect of the film is the unmistakable Satyajit Ray influence: there’s a bit of Aparajito here, a dash of Jana Aranya there, a tinge of Charulata elsewhere. To Ghosh’s credit, none of the scenes, not even the most ‘Ray’ ones, feel like they have been lifted or stolen with malicious intent. Instead, they feel like a loving tribute that a student pays to a teacher he greatly admires and respects. And that is a beautiful thing.

Updated Date: May 05, 2018 13:38 PM