Movie Review :Tollylights

Tolly Bites. And it hurts

Abhi JoggingI was literally dragged to the premiere of Arjun Chakraborty’s “Tollylights” in Kolkata. I didn’t have any clue that the premiere event was going to be thronged by women in inch deep make-up, the who’s who of Kolkata’s P3 circle and yeah, renowned lyricist and filmmaker Gulzar and ex-capitano Saurav Ganguly were also there. I was already pissed at the affairs getting late, and well, I felt sorry for Mr.Gulzar that he had to sit through the entire movie,(coz he was there to support his ex-Asst Dir. Arjun, the guy in the left in the trackies , yeah he’s the director in case you didn’t know) and well, so was I also forced to sit through it. I entered the screening room and from scene 1, I knew this was in some way going to be hilarious (even if it wasn’t mean to be). The reels begin to roll, and “Aashun Rongeen Prithibi te” starts screaming out from the surround speakers. Someone please tell the projectionist that me ears are bleeding. I wish I hadn’t thrown away my cotton reels. The intro track shows the journey of Tollywood from where it all began to what shit it is now. The track is replete with formulas of Bangla rock-the distorted guitars,the annoying cheap drum cymbals crashing with the bass sounds, and the irritating backing vocals and even more annoying lead vocals who wants to end every line with a fade out echo. Ugh!! Scene 1: Mithun da enters. Mithunda begins by saying something which sounded similar to :- Aaami Gay ( I am Gay). Actually he said Aaami Ke? (Who am I?) And the laughter riot didnt stop for me.

If you are really interested, the story is about Tollywood in general and encompasses the story of the struggle of a genuinely talented filmmaker being exploited to the extremes by the unethical show-business, and a middle class married woman who chooses glory over a non-supportive family. Pfff….Feed me something good. Yawn Yawn.What started as a take on the creative mediocrity in Tollywood, with scripts often being stolen from DVDs of South Indian movies, casting couch culture, the politics of Production Teams, the tussle between Producers of Mega Serials and the Movie actresses, gets immersed in its own mediocrity as the script fails to excite me , and so does the performances. I mean yeah, we have seen heroines sleep with Producers or veteran actors, in that order, and we have also seen actress commiting suicides. So fucking what? Having said that, the movie has two scenes which you take back home.

Scene 1:- When the main protagonist Abhi goes to an old shack where a yesteryear’s actress resides now, to interview her. She talks of her days of glory and how it used to be in those days. Live recording, Live percussions and the basic criteria to be an actress was that not onl you should be beautiful, but you should also have a voice to match.
The beauty of the scene lies in the eyes of the brilliant actress which start gleaming with nostalgia, and she tries singing “Ki Jwala Je Dhorau Buke” with her croaking throat, she also says that she would also have shown the dance, if she hadn’t hurt her knee.”Ki Jwala Je Dhorau Buke” is a recreation of the Black and White era of Bengali cinema with the nasal vocals (yeah the one Himmess is trying to bring back ), with live recording from the Tabla, the violin and the harmonium. Apparently the soundtrack CD includes a remix version mixed to the beas of Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl”. Talk about globalization.

Scene 2:- Abhi’s flat. Abhi with an established Tollywood actor and the gossip guy. I don’t know these actors, but that scene looked really spontaneous and even with the preliminary Bengali that I could comprehend, this scene lit me up. The gossip guy is just spot on.

Some questions though:-
What did the jogging scene of Abhi signify?
Can actresses with names like Krishnakali really exist in any form of showbiz, no matter the language?
Listening to the track Jiboner Eki Khela, do you think Music Dir: Tejendra Majumder ever tunes into something called MTV?
Did anyone get excited to see Sunny Deol in the guest role?
Did Krishnakali also drink too much beer which expanded her thighs?
Why does Krishnakali have bad taste in men? I mean, her husband is ..nevermind. The veteran actor is really veteran in every sense, and the libidinous producer..pfff..scary thought. Get out Sujoy…get OUT!!

Was the song “Esho Na Ei Raate” meant to be sensual or was it played as a take on the many other “sensual” tracks of Tollywood? (Special Mentions here:- This track has so many umms, uuhs and aahs than any south indian pondy you’d ever see. The lyrics are a treat, especially when accompanied by subtitles. I definitely will include some. “chorus of Love Games Love Games…..Ei Esho Naa Aaro ektu Kaache..Dekho Naa Ki Aagun Jolche..” which means- Hey,Come closer to me…See what fire is burning inside…Surprisingly this song is being picturised as the lead actress is performing on a stage show with Exide Batteries as the main sponsors. She is dressed up in golden tights, with a group of women who desperately need to join VLCC (a health care clinic which helps in losing weight) and yes, the winner of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005,Debojit Saha is singing the male leads in this song. I guess that trivia helps if you were actually worried if Debojit had gone underground.)
Do you think this idea of asking questions was just plain stupid?
Do you think I am an arrogant prick? May be I am. After all I am burnt by the scorching Tollylights. Yeah, third degree burns.

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4 thoughts to “Movie Review :Tollylights”

  1. No,you are not arrogant.this film is really irritating film and one of those disgusting films.arjun chakroborty needs to 1st unlearn himself of what he learnt and learn directing films.ending of the film is too ridiculous……one person who couldnot adjust to situations in tollywood goes to adjust at bollywood.and arjun chakroborty has forgot that film is an audiovisual medium.a frame has the power of speaking for himself but the film lacks that much initiative with lots of irritating melodramatic dialogues and cheap dialogues.


  2. @ Prajjal,
    My sympathies with you. We collectively survived through the movie. Yippee!!Can you imagine what Mr.Gulzar must be going through the movie, and well, he had to show his appreciation of the “craftmenship” of Mr.Chakraborty. Pfff!!! The point is when Tollylights sets out to show the stereotypical aspect of Tollywood, it actually falls in its own trap. Just, another one bites the dust.


  3. Oh my God, I recently went to Calcutta (I stay abroad) and picked up this CD from Music World, and once I was back at my home in NY I was like brimming with expectations and expected nostalgia to see a modern day bengali movie after a long time – and gosh, guess what I felt like turning it off once the very first scene popped up on the screen. I totally agree with Sujoy – what the hell was this? In fact i have seen intolerable but yet hilariously entertaining Baba Keno Chakor type films but this one was complete no show more so because it had reputed actors in it – but i just wonder how even god actors can all collectively produce a crap performance and make a film go from zero to negativity in seconds. There is no compactness in the story, actually there is no story, and all events are unrelated and tried to be assorted together to form a futile impact. It is totally unclear why the housewife chose to go the Tollywood way, and it is even more painful to see how the director tries to implant motherhood in her in one scene and establishes her as a usual prostitute in another – so lame! Arjun's story should have been a parallel track but it suddenly emerges as the main event and washes away all impact, if any at all. And what about those songs – the exide one especially! Haha, Sujoy gave a better description of it. If you really want to see some meaningless disconnected set of drama adorned with an beyond-excuse script go and see this movie. God help Bengali cinema, and oh ya…Bengali housewives!


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