The International Movie Review

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Calcutta News – Blessy magic works again, but in parts

Posted by harino1 on February 5, 2008

Blessy is a master story teller. His previous endeavours had proven it beyond doubt. Now, ‘Calcutta News ‘, produced by Kaayal Films, also stands testimony to that. Set in the backdrop of urban Kolkata, this gripping story deals with the disturbing social menace of sex rackets. More than a love story, the plot explores the lives of innocent women who feel shunted out by a world that doesn’t understand them due to their circumstances.

The news is not just from Calcutta alone. This absorbing story can happen anywhere in the country or at any part of this world. So universal is the theme. And the narration is bonny to watch – even if it is somewhat cinematic and overly simplistic, in the context of the bolder theme.

The film is a variation on the village-family themes that the director had been with for long, but instead, our female protagonist brood about in the caliginous emotional aftermath of her husband’s death. On the surface, the film is very much in the detailing the plight of innocent country girl who winds up in the big city and becomes the punching bag victim of a fake marriage, undergoes the death of his so called husband and rejection by unfeeling society, and who becomes so besieged by tragedy that she is blind to the genuine love offered to her by a gutsy journalist.

The film opens with Ajith Thomas (Dileep), an acclaimed investigative television producer and anchor of   a leading channel ‘Calcutta News’, being felicitated for his work ‘Shadows of Calcutta’ -entirely shot via mobile phone cameras, receiving a national award for its sincerity and boldness of theme. The plot lines open with Ajith narrating the incidents that made him to produce this work of art. Ajith, the son of a former footballer of Mohammedans grew up in Kolkata with his two sisters and his mother, in an apartment that his mother considered important as they resided there from their early days. An active member of kairalee malayalee samajan headed by a comical president (Innocent ), Ajith has at his disposal  a strong media team including producers  Smita (Vimala Raman), and  news anchors Aruna (Manasa) and Sheela (Brinda) and bunch of cameraman and editors.

One day on a hectic shoot of kali pooja, he bumps into a newly married Malayalee couple who were seen irritable before camera. And in the next day Ajith meets them again on a tram and the guy turns hostile realizing Ajith is a malayali. Within few days Ajith once again finds him while editing the news, this time found as an unidentified body found near Kalighat. Ajith immediately go through the rushes and make arrangements to beam the previous shots of the couple that he shot, so that some one may come forward to claim the body.

Within a couple of days Ajith get news about the girl, ‘Krishnapriya’ who was brutally beaten and locked up in a petty lodge in the city. Ajith with the help of kairali samagam offers help to her who identifies the body of her husband Hari (Indrajith), with whom she was married five days back. She being a an orphan from Pattambi  with no one back  in her village, they leave the claim on the body. But the shattered girl with the agony, anger and grief combined with the uncertainty of life tries for a suicide. But  Ajith comes  up in the role  of her protector  and arranges her stay with his workmates  in the channel. Soon he gets attracted to Krishnapriya   primarily due to her love for singing and music.

But within days, Ajit finds  that  Hari was one of the henchman in a sex racket that traps innocent girls and sells them for lakhs to the Sonagachi sex mafia  led by   one-arm bearded guy (Kathal fame  Krishnamoorthy) . But as days goes by, Krishnapriya develops a kind of obsessive compulsive disorder thinking about herself being the cause of  Hari’s death.

Ajith tries to help her out, with the support of a psychiatrist.  Going after the causes of Hari’s murder then lands them into further problems, ultimately resulting in the mafia kidnapping Krishnapriya to their den at the red lit area. Ajith with the help of his fellow media men try to rescue her, following them to the red street and shooting all in his mobile, which lead to a riveting climax.

Blessy is once again at the top of his game, telling a tale in a clean and crisp illustrative terms, never meandering too much (except in the scenes of development of infatuation among protagonists and their mutual interest in music, which is indeed a letdown in this inspiring tale) and propelling the tale forward with relentless and masterful editing by Vijay Shanker. And it’s sure, the tacked-on and forced cheesy ending is okay to appease the masses, but for a film which stresses such a bold theme and in context of what the film tries to say, could have been more impressive, if it had taken a different route.

The storyline sounds simple and, perhaps, clichéd to some extent. But what makes it really different is the treatment. Blessy deals with human emotions very well and provides equal space for all characters to develop but the screenplay ought to have been tightened a little more. The film begins on a sombre pace (and slips back off and forth) it gains momentum post the first half an hour. But it also let us know  very well , the unsurely of  the scriptor director, whether to keep the film in  a track of drippy romance, a psychological thriller, or  a realistic paradox, or even a appropriate  mixture of all. The film gets predictable as it progresses, failing the attempts to maintain an air of mystery allover by the inclusion of extrasensory perception and the psychiatrist act. But all these shortcomings can be excused for the broader cause of the bolder theme, with which the films stands tall.

The superlative performances of the lead are the other highlights in the film . Meera Jasmine is amazing in the role of a lifetime, playing a lady pushed to the extremes of dilemma and dichotomy of choices. She is believable in every shades offered in the plot. Dileep  as  Ajith Thomas,  with a new look with  straightened  hair and glasses  also  has done a superb job playing a gutsy , determined and  modest  journo. All others in the cast including Vimala Raman as Smitha , Innocent as the Samajam president  and  Indarajith as Hari  does their roles impressively.

The film leaves a lot of physical space for mind-blowing camerawork  by  Cinematographer S Kumar, who  has brought in a marvel with well shot sequences and frames which speaks more  than what the film offers verbally. The stunning look of the movie is mostly due to his creative and brilliant cinematography, making it an adorable piece of art. Renjith Amabadi’s makeup and Manu Jagand’s art work is definitely commendable and can be listed among their bests.

For music, it’s Deojyoth Misra whose work fits the situations to a T, particularly excelling in the folk based songs, which is tasteful while also conforming to musical standards. Most pleasing to the ear, perhaps, are  the ‘Kannadi koottile’, ‘Ariloru chilla’ and ‘Engu ninno vanna’ with its simple tones, all sung in the rich voice of K S Chithra. Ouseppachan also gel best with his background scores, which control the tempo and  lift the mood of the film in many a scenes. Considering the present standards of commercial ventures in Mollywood, ‘Calcutta News’   is definitely a immensely watchable film, very hard to leave behind.  It is a commendable movie, one that needs to be talked about, discussed, and recommended.

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