Posted: 31 January 2008 at 1:42am | IP Logged
Dileep, Meera Jasmine, VImala Raman
Blessy the pathbreaking director in modern Malayalam cinema has come out with his fourth film in six years, Calcutta News which is as good as his previous oeuvres. The writer and director this time holds a mirror to metropolitan India's ugly underbelly of trafficking in women and how a middle class girl from Kerala gets caught in it.
It is riveting cinema and exhibits emotional depth and visual richness aided by lovely music, razor sharp script, superb camera, slick editing and above all knock-out performances from the lovable lead of Dileep and Meera. Blessy is able to bring savvy freshness to form hitherto unexplored. The story and settings are entirely different from the earlier films of the director which were basically family stories set in lower middleclass milieu in Kerala. Here it is a love story set against a big city like Kolkata and the plot unfolds like a thriller and has to be appreciated for tackling a relevant theme with a sensitive portrayal.
''Calcutta News'is technically my best film': Blessy
Ajit Thomas (Dileep) is an acclaimed investigative television anchor and producer with a leading channel 'Calcutta News', and is the son of a former footballer who grew up in Kolkata. His team at the channel includes news assistant Smita (Vimala Raman), and anchors Aruna (Manasa) and Sheela (Brinda). Ajit is a lovable guy who lives in a flat with his mom and sister and is active member of the Malayalee Samajam led by a comical president (Innocent) and his wife ( Bindu Panickkar) One day Ajit bumps into a newly married Malayalee couple while on work in a tram, but the guy is hostile when he tries to introduce himself as a Mallu! However, while editing the news, he is shocked to find that an unidentified body found near Kalighat resembles the rude guy he met in the tram.
Ajit's investigative nature comes into the fore as he goes about finding the mystery behind the brutal murder of the guy. The guy was Hari (Indrajith), who had married an orphan Krishnapriya (Meera Jasmine) from Pattambi and brought her to Kolkata, before his brutal murder. Krishnapriya is unaware of her husband's job or what he does for a living and is shattered to know about his death. However hope floats into her life after Ajit sort of becomes her protector and also gets attracted to her for her innocence and their mutual love for music.
Meanwhile Ajit finds that there is something rotten and discovers that Hari was one of the henchman in a sex racket that traps innocent girls and sells them to a one-arm bearded guy (Kathal Krishnamoorthy) who operates from Sonagachi, the largest red-light area in eastern India! Ajit along with his friends try to unravel the sex racket using their television channel, which leads to the bearded guy kidnapping Krishnapriya and taking her to his den in Songachi! Can Ajit in hot pursuit get through the maze of nightmarish and confusing alleys and by-lanes of Songachi to reach his lady love?
The film makes a strong statement against the trafficking of women and sex trade in big cities which are dependent on the gullible girls from villages across India including Kerala who are lured into it by middle men who con them into marriage. Blessy has a solid straightforward plot with an emotional core that pulls your heart strings like his previous films. Blessy has told it in a realistic manner through the eyes of his protagonist Ajit Thomas an ordinary journalist with guts and determination.
You cannot take your eyes off Ajit Thomas, played brilliantly by Dileep with a new hair style, glasses and looking every inch a television reporter who is expressive and riveting. The director has fleshed out his protagonist background adequately explaining his reason for falling in love with a country girl and making it believable. Meera is splendid pitching her act just right and portrays Krishnapriya's strength and vulnerability beautifully. Indrajith has the right look and menace required for his character,Thambi Antony as doctor is impressive, Vimala is wasted while Krishnamoorthy creates fear as the sex trader.
Technically it is Blessy's best film. The veteran cameraman S.Kumar has been able to capture the grimness of Songachi and its myriad alleys and the majesty of old Kolkatta its trams, Howrah Bridge, Kalighat, Oberoi Grand and its elegance amazingly. Count among other plus points Vijay Shankar's fast cuts, Ranjit Ambadi's make-up especially of Dileep and Manu Jagadh's art work and choice of locations essential for the story.
And the biggest factor working for the film is the music of Debojyoti Mishra, based on classical forms and definitely there is a Bengali feel to it which Kerala listeners love (Remember Salil Chowdhary influence in Malayalam film songs of the 70's and 80's). Music is part of the film as they are married to the visuals by the lyrics of Vaylar Sarathchandra Varma with the melodious - Engino Vanna Panchavarnakili…. and the peppy Kannadi Kootile Kowmara Thumbi…. being the pick of the lot. The background score of Ouseappachan adds to the rich fare which makes the film gel.
Calcutta News is a vital, sardonic and disturbingly brave attempt within the commercial film format at good meaningful cinema that also entertains. Great going Blessy!
Verdict: Very Good