There is just something about beautiful movies that makes them so effortlessly loveable. ‘Antaheen’ is one such movie. And even though it does try to ruin it with some really jittery additions to the narrative, I have failed, quite miserably, in my attempt to not like it. I am in love with this movie and after having watched it twice , I am very sure that it is indeed one of the finest that Bengali cinema has produced in the last couple of years.
There is no single storyline which carries you forward. But writer Shyamal Sengupta’s narrative shuffles between characters and it is their individual slices of life that build the streamlines which finally coalesce to the larger story arc. And Director Anirudhha Roy Chowdhury aces in that. It is a collage of love stories, one which speaks of love in different forms and in varying degrees. So there is Love in the first drops of rain which drench the Kolkata horizon; there is love in the heavy shower which splashes the glass panes; there is love in a random sight such as a kite stuck to a roof antennae. And there is love in the endless wait for a stranger’s call. While ‘Antaheen’ can be accused of high emotional and hopeless romantic exaggeration, it also portrays real life moments with equal ease. Moments of loneliness and mid-life crisis, and moments of unhappiness in marriages.
Speaking of the performances, there is no single stand-out performance which makes you feel completely in awe. Yet, the cast as an ensemble is brilliant. Rahul Bose as Abhik, the hopeless romantic is very credible.
Radhika Apte as Brinda is a breathe of fresh air [ seriously, she is]. Maybe, it’s because of her resemblance to Piggy Chops don’t you think?
Everyone who watches this movie will be left complaining about the under-utilization of Sharmila Tagore. The most annoying of the lot has to be Shauvik as the corporate honcho – Mr.Mehra. What was that fake accent all about? He is the most artifical of the lot especially with those Scotch sips that he tried hard to fake as if he was enjoying it.
But having said that, what works best here is the duo of real life couple – Aparna Sen and Kalyan Ray as – Paro and Ranjan. Their mid-life crisis, and yet unspoken love is a treat to watch. I believe this is what the Dharmendra and Nafisa Ali jodi actually set out to achieve [ Life in a Metro] but fell short on many accounts.
Don’t think that Antaheen is without its share of flaws. A modern day cop who is very much at ease with tackling arms dealer as much as giving press con appearances is an introvert who’d rather retreat to Virtual chat-rooms talking to his ”Raat Jaaga Taara”. Okay, very possible. How about the cop who sprouts Jim Morrison while going on a raid? Umm, far fetched, but still Bongs can be quite modern. Err, how about some random product placements – Reliance Money, Reliance Broadband, Star Ananda, Nihar Oil? Oh please, take them out of my face!! You are just ruining a pretty painting and instead sticking company logos on them. Also, the movie’s intro scene when Abhik captures the arms dealer, is supposed to be a proper patrol and not a Reality TV footage caught on candid camera. Agreed? So how the fuck did the News Channel manage to get that footage? I guess just one of those cinematic freedom of creativity.
And any review of Antaheen is incomplete without mentioning the haunting melodies of the soundtrack – all credits to the awesome Shantanu Moitra and the very melodious Shreya Ghoshal. I have been going gaga on twitter about how much I have been playing Jao Pakhi. The rest of the soundtrack is brilliant as well. My other favourites are – Pherari Mon, Shokal Ashe Na and Muthor Rumaal.
So, in a way, that has been my pitch for Antaheen and you NEED to sit down and watch this. Everything about Antaheen is so very “Korean cinema”. The ambience, the lights, the laid back dialogues, the silent scenes and the high emotional quotient. Not to forget the impeccable cinematography by Avik Mukhopadhyay [No wonder they named the main protagonist after him]. And yet, when Radhika Apte, Kalyan Ray, Aparna Sen and Rahul Bose appear on the screen and speak in Bengali, it does not feel out of place. Instead, it feels Bangla cinema has always been intended to be this way – modern, contemporary, lively and brilliant. Director Anirudhha Chowdhury’s second movie – Antaheen is a labour of love blended with pleasant colours and extreme romanticism that can make even the most cynical heart melt like wax. To say the least, it truly deserved the National Award.