I walk into the dark auditorium expecting to be moved by the songs and rhymes of Love Songs-Yesterday,Today and Tomorrow.Instead,I was greeted by a long list of Acknowledgements ranging from the Neotia Hospital to Football Clubs to Coffee House in College Street. And then, it began. A cute,indoor setting with tables decorated with photo frames. Silent moments captured to tell tales of the past. There is something I simply love about small movies which try to break out of the mould of stereotypes. I love them so much that I start overlooking the flaws and keep on encouraging . But there’s a certain limit beyond which it just boils down to become yet another hopeless piece of shit. And that is what Love Songs is. As Simon Cowell would put it, we wouldn’t be remembering this in 10 years (in this case, after walking out of the auditorium), and at best that was a cruise ship performance or a veteran given a chance to entertain in a theme park. Sorry, I wasn’t entertained AT ALL.
First things first, I would like to plead all the casting managers to include Mallika Sarabhai in every horror movie possible. She scared the shit out of me with the deep kajal-ified eyes and the meter-deep foundation layer which would put any Pyramid construction to shame. Add to that a wig in blazing ruby red . Secondly, the intoxicating aawaaz of Aftab Jaffri (Om Puri) keeps haunting throughout the movie, reading Urdu poetry. The references made to his affinity to political topics of Calcutta and how he brought Mridula (Jaya Bachhan) to get addicted to Begum Akhtar’s Dadra during their days at Presidency College has been woven quite beautifully. But again, I feel so deprived of Om Puri’s performance in this movie. His voice was casted more than his personal appearance, and that seemed like a flaw.
I know I have got the sequence all wrong and I should have discussed a bit about the story before, but it is of no use, seriously. I am just out here to straight away show a thumbs down to this movie. A big “middle finger” to the actor who plays Rohan Chatterjee -Prithviraj Choudhury. He looks so methodical and so theatrical. Seems like he was taught each and every scene at a primary level drama school. June Mailah even with that make-up looks too young to be Tara’s mom, which I think she should take as a compliment. Shahana Chatterjee as Palash just pissed the hell out of me. Firstly because her voice was either manipulated at the dubbing stage so that her playback to Ushu Uthup might gel. Or if it was her original voice, it really sucked. Add to that Junior Palash also had the same voice. I mean, didn’t she go through puberty? Rajit Kapoor has hardly anything here to do and so does VJ Neil, other than some liplocking with Palash under the satine bedsheets.
Jayabrato Chatterjee’s Lovesongs excels only in one department and that is the cinematography. It is a perfect travelogue projected on the big screen. The yellow garlands of marigold, the rolling tram sounds, the Howrah bridge, the fans spinning above the wooden tables of Coffee house,the maach baazaar and the rickshaws in College Street. Not to forget the indelible visual of Victoria Memorial. All of that and much more. Cinematographer Soumik Haldar has done a very good job and I guess, as all the aunties in the opening scene, we can drink to that. Not you Jayabrato, you did a bad bad job. The narrative is so boring. It’s like literally watching a snake shed its skin minus the suspense of watching a new skin. Yes, it is that slow and without any meaning at all. I really couldn’t find any dynamics nor did I feel if the climax was approaching. There wasn’t a single moment where I could at least applaud a moment. The shaayri was okay, but Palash and her predictable club blues cum cabaret sucked in everything like a blackhole. Even Jaya Bachhan looked bearable when she wasn’t speaking anything and was doing nothing but smiling. Now I might not qualify as the best art critic, but I know what I like and what just disgusts me. And I didn’t like Lovesongs a bit. Jayabrato- Go write a better one.