‘Uma’ Review : A rich tale of expensive wish-fulfillment!

When this movie was announced, the trailer was launched, all eyes were on its director – Srijit Mukherji, was going through a period of time in his career, where nothing clicked for him. His usual cast ensemble, his high-profile scripts, and even literature adaptations couldn’t help his cause. All that wasted/un-used talent was stored somewhere maybe, all this while – until here, where he just uses a tiny spoon-full from his store-house, picks out a real-story for his plot, adapts it in his style.
Here basic human emotions, common parental feelings and cliched Bengali sentiments are dealt with, but with a difference – this is essentially a rich man’s expensive emotions, we are talking about. Srijit drives away the “mass”, with the upper class structure he creates, yet we all feel accomodated, irrespective of how fat our back-pockets are, mainly due to the fact that the crux is a basic father-child relationship – the struggles of a failed marriage, the responsibilities of a single parent, the melancholy of a dying child and the fulfillment of an immature, childish bucket-list.
Based on the life and death of Evan Leversage of Canada, for whom, a whole city celebrated Christmas, earlier than scheduled, as Evan’s last wish. Here, Srijit uses this story as per his need. He celebrates parenthood, childhood, he plays in the delicate corners of anticiapted sorrowful endings and he mixes all of these with the ultimate glorification of “Cinema” – as a life-saving drug, through one of the most beautifully pictured metatheatres of Bengali Cinema history. It is marvelous to see the courage he has to include a sub-plot too many.
Uma wishes to see a Durga Puja, of which she has only heard of, from her single parent, her NRI father. She has 3 months to live, and so (Jishu U Sengupta) Himadri decides to set an alternative reality, where Durga Puja will be celebrated, in April-May.
Without revealing any further, lets just know that, here enters Anjan Dutta, as Brahmananda – an once famous, failed director, who just needs one last chance to redeem himself – to create a master-piece. His sub-plot of a failed family and marriage co-incides with Himadri’s and here lies Srijit’s brilliance in merging plots, into one, making each coherent to other.
The antagonist named as Mohitosh Sur (Anirban) works by suggestion. “Sur” and “Mahisasur” – you understand, don’t you? Infact, this isn’t all of it – every name used, every scene shown has so much of symbolism filled into it. The director (Brahmananda) as God, the father as God, Uma as God – all bow to their creator, Srijit, when at the last scene, there happens a pure cinematic ecstasy, a highly-satisfying poetic justice. All may seem a bit super-imposed, but then, this is a movie about happy-endings to the ultimate tragedy.
The movie’s problem lies, in its celebration – much paradoxically. There is too much of everything, the completion of the bucket-list, defies all imagination, reality and practicality. Though Srijit dedicates this movie to all fathers, everywhere in the world, but there certainly will be a difficulty in identification with Himadri’s character – because he is ‘out-of-the-world’ rich and can grant a wish, too much. There are stretched out scenes, un-necessary dialogues and boring scenes.
Anjan Dutta grabs the movie by its collar, and like the character he plays, gives it, his all. Stunning, fantastic, dream performance from a fading away legend. You pray for his justice, you wish for his masterpiece to be successful, you sympathise him, you glorify him. Jishu U Sengupta enjoys a spell of Midas’ touch. His breakdowns, his joys, his satisfactions in all his impending tragedy almost speaks as a character. Anirban is as usually fantastic as he is, with that voice. At times, he mistakes the cinema for a stage, but he makes all that up in his final revelation. Rudranil and Neel are obviously delightful with Rudranil playing the comic relief. Sayantika appears and disappears before you see her, and fortunately so. Srabanti is little but very aptly used. And now comes the star – Sara Sengupta in and as Uma. What a fine performance from the little girl. Every scene she is in, is a delight. Her expressions, her ease of facing the camera, her diction, her dialogue-delivery, her body language makes her the soul of the film. I personally, never have seen a better child actor in Bengal, before. She is already a star, a long glorious path infront of her, and we wish her all the very best.
Mukherji’s use of surrealism twice, both very much related in parallel context is very successfully attempted. He always has the luxury of a star-studded cast line, a never-ending budget and a brand name – he, only can dream and achieve this project. This isn’t a common man’s movie. The plot isn’t ordinary – but the context is, hence you love it. Uma isn’t just about a terminally ill child’s wish fulfillment, it is about what human beings can attain with the power of love (rich human beings). Share the space with a pitiful father, watch him bring down the moon for her daughter. Share the space with the industry’s little intricacies, watch Brahmananda serve a poetic justice. Share the space with Uma – relive your Durga Puja memories, satisfy your Saptami-Ostomi hunger, for this religion is that of the human, where God plays a puppet.

My rating :- 3.5/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

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‘October’ Review : Unanswerable Questions of plaintive understanding!

Have you ever been there at a moment, when you feel totally exhausted, fatigued, challenged, frustrated in life, and yet there was a single tiny little bit of light, that kept you going? October is that essence, of awkward, weird, illogical waiting – with an understanding, that the wait is trifling, absurd and endless. It is an abrupt movie – of switching scenes of active participation, busy nuisances and calm passive in-action, where nothing happens.
October isn’t a movie. It is just an autumnal feeling juxtaposed with the genre of love. Love isn’t ecstatic, joyful or loud here. You cannot describe the feeling. It loses all definition. You can’t even judge whether this was love or we took ‘care’, deceiving to be ‘love’. But then you question “care” – why do people care? Why should Dan (Varun Dhawan) care for Shiuli (Banita Sandhu) ? The nurse asks, “uski boyfriend ho tum?” – he isn’t. He isn’t her family even. He is just a co-worker, with whom she hardly ever spoke properly! Then why? Juhi Chaturvedi, doesn’t even dare to answer the question – she leaves it to a much elevated level of paradoxically simple understanding of emotions – very subtle, soft, foolish, immature. The tale is as if enveloped by immaturity, and lack of practicality – yet the tale is about life’s fundamental essence – of living for oneself, of living for another.
It is wonderful to see how carefully Sircar has prevented reality and practicality to creep into the plot and disturb the harmony of a plaintive story. He never tries to drive away the mood of melancholy. He doesn’t let you have a moment of complete joy – He lets you soak in a full autumn, to smile at the aching joys, to laugh at the silly commitments, to enjoy the immature sentiments.  Sircar allows us to have a confused first impression about his protagonist, and just at a point where you will be ready to write him off,  Sircar exposes the soul – once you look at that – you fall in love with the character. You try to find reasons, you can’t and so fortunately you can’t that you feel happy with your failed attempt. October’s crux is based on your in-ability to find a meaning.
The movements in-plot are sudden. You are taken aback by the pace at which tragedies occur, till a point of time, where you feel the anxious anticipation of the next ‘fall’ – and as long as they aren’t falling in lives, they are falling in love – bit by bit, slowly, then all at once – without definition, without meaning, without purpose, without history.
The hospital scenes are horrifying, the visuals are pathetic, only to be punctuated by Dan’s appearance. There is no Varun Dhawan – the “hit machine” here. This is a nameless, faceless, man who has started acting perhaps, just now. He has given his all that he has been saving since Badlapur. Poised in anguish, calm in anger, satiated in sorrow. The constantly brooding individual who can question his hotel staff about why they have put an elastic underwear for laundry, and also the nurse about why there is more urine in Shiuli’s catheter pouch, than there was the previous day! He makes you participate in his melancholy. He makes you feel sorry for his suffering – yet you don’t quite know, why he chooses to suffer. And till the point, when you will not know – you will let October come onto you.
Banita Sandhu takes up a huge challenge. The points where she is just lying in the ICU of a hospital bed, with tubes and channels running all through her body – you feel the horror. That is passive acting at its very best. Her paralyzed self, where she is carried around by Dan, where she wants to smile, but can’t move her lips is delightfully sorrowful. And Sircar, perhaps, for that reason wanted a ‘not-so-famous’ actress, who doesn’t carry the fear of being lost in the action all around, without being herself able to participate in the happenings. She ensures, she does ‘nothing’ – so beautifully accomplished. Gitanjali Rao as her mother, is a delight to watch. She is the perfect mother, who can’t allow the doctors to plug off the ventilation, even after knowing that all hopes are slipping away. Her unseen tears pierce through the scenes.
Music, is all in the background. No song present as a whole sequence, and the constant interplay of fine chords set the perfect mood for celebrating the sorrow. The end is abrupt, extended, and then anti-climactic – there lies the success – anti-climax is the constant dramatic happening. Silence is the most important dialogue and absence is palpable. The camera works by suggestion. There is constant meaning and symbolism in-between the lines.
If you haven’t seen it already, then pick a day to participate in the sorrow. Shed a tear or two, be sad, enjoy the intricacies of not knowing why, and celebrate sadness – celebrate autumn, celebrate the end. Winter will be a harsh month and spring doesn’t necessarily bring rejuvenation. Engage your 1.54 hours of life, in contemplating, meaninglessness.

My rating 4.5/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.