varnachitram

A Blog on Cinema

MovieMazaa Review: Calcutta News

| 23 Comments

(Crossposted at Movie Mazaa)

Blessy’s Calcutta News is a slickly designed film that unfortunately has very little to say. Well intentioned, but astoundingly unexciting, the film is a major disappointment in terms of content, concerns and convictions.

Ajith Thomas (Dileep) is a Senior Correspondent with Calcutta News who inadvertently runs into a Malayali couple, Hari (Indrajith) and Krishnapriya (Meera Jasmine), on the bustling streets of Kolkata, in the midst of a hectic Kali Puja shoot. When Hari is discovered murdered a few days later, Ajith along with Krishna, embarks on a perilous journey that would decidedly change both their lives forever.

Social satire has always been Blessy’s forte; one which has at times, vehemently displayed a fierce passion that is at once authentic and intense. The Blessian protagonist is hence quite at ease donning the spectator’s garb, be it Madhavan in Kazhcha or Monichan in Palunku. However, Calcutta News badly falters as the censure this time around is distinctly strained; arising out of a hoard of illogical and terribly specious sequences that are seemingly as disjointed as they possibly can get. And it doesn’t help a bit that the film has as its premise a done to death theme, albeit set in a different milieu.

This is a film that fervently aspires to be something but sadly turns out to be something else. It’s unbelievably unsure of itself. One moment it’s a drippy, dopey tale of romance and a psychological thriller the next; at times it’s a moral fable and a little later a surreal parable. It means to be seductive but merely progresses from the contrived to the manipulative. There is a frantic attempt to maintain an air of mystery through out, which falls flat on its face, since it gets increasingly wary as the minutes pass on. Bewilderedly led round and round along the street maze of Kolkata, you dolefully lose what’s left of your curiosity, when at the end of it all you find yourself stranded where you had set off a couple of hours back. And it does ultimately go overboard with a totally theatrical denouement that is clogged up with visually spectacular shots sans a reason or purpose.

It’s refreshingly wonderful to see S. Kumar back in action after a while. His camera generates sheer poetry on celluloid. Having realized that there is not much of a story to bank on, it assumes a life of its own and sets out on a voyage, capturing a host of dazzling hues, detailed portraits and outstanding moments in the process. Be it the hazy Kolkata rains or the star studded nights, the russet avenues or the raging river, Kumar is at them with a zealous vengeance and the results are nothing short of captivating.

I am appalled by the lead performances though. For, Calcutta News does neither of its leads any particular favors. Dileep in a journo act looks refreshingly modish, and yet it isn’t what I would term an effortless makeover from his usual Romeo roles. He staggers on quite a few occasions and essentially needs a few lessons in articulation. Meera Jasmine on the other hand runs the danger of being stereotyped as the damsel in distress; she looks a tad jaded and world-weary throughout and startlingly manages at times, in sudden spurts of eagerness, to ham to the hilt as well. Of course, there might still be some appeal to the outcome if there were any charisma in the leads or any chemistry between them. But that’s not the case either. There’s absolutely no spark between them, forget a fire, though they strive desperately to rub up some warmth.

The film has no particular result; rather it shoves a contrived ending down our throats as we still wait with several of those jigsaw bits dying to fit together. It remains caught up in its baffling rationale, and ends up looking scheming and gauche. The more intricate it tries to be, the less convincing it becomes and hence rightly invites ponderings about method over matter.

23 Comments

  1. I have not seen the movie. Having read the movie mazaa review, I am of the opinion that it is time Blessy should review himself. I think the problem with blessy is his ego that he do not consider anyone else’s stories, all confined to himself. It is good if he has something nice to say. If he has nothing new to say, look out for something fresh. His mentor Padmarajan was a master writer. Though he adapted stories of the Tamil writer Vasanthi(Koodevide, Innale) and K.K Sudhakaran(Namukku parkkan munthirithoppukal) and the story of “Thinkalaazhacha nalla divasam” is also someone else’s. He took the story and did the screenplay by himself. Why Blessy can’t move in his path? The artist should consider cinema is always greater than him. The problem begins when the artist thinks viceversa. And may be it is the problem with blessy. Buth think loud such persons are ruining the producer, the viewer, the actors and finally the silver screen.

  2. Blessy has credited a Psychologist as consultant, but that fellow has fooled Blessy. The Psychiatrist who treats Meera diagnoses her with “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”, and that disorder is in fact something totally different. Blessy should have googled the term before incorporating it into his screenplay.

    One reason for failure of the movie is that it tries to be formulaic – x no, of songs, y no. of comedy scenes, z no. of sentimental scenes, etc. The mother who becomes labile whenever late-father is mentioned is an example.

    Only good thing is that it is a lot different from previous Blessy movies. Reminded me of the metamorphosis Sibi Malayil did in Summer in Bathlehem.

    @Sajeev
    Moonnampakkam was based on Vasanthi’s story

  3. The movie is good, but the attitude of Public against good movie are quite evident from the public response. It should improve. The problem with the mindset is that a bunch of bad guys will always be there to boo, that for any movie. If u look at the three biggest hits of 2007, all three were quality wise average, Hello, Chocolate and Mayavi. The quality has come down very badly.

  4. Calcutta News is Blessy’s worst film as yet. The psychological messup that Shahul has pointed out is just one among the several flaws. And there are plenty of them as well.

    I was in awe of Blessy after Kazhcha.
    Until I saw the Iranian film Bashu.
    That was released in 1991.
    And since then, my opinion has changed.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096894/plotsummary

  5. @ Vinu,
    Thanks for tracing out the original of Kazhcha. It was shocking to see the similarity.

    Even the much-praised climax scenes of Calcutta News, especially the scenes “shot” by that little girl, are very similar to the scenes in Born into Brothels (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388789/)

  6. Shahul

    Its not just the content, scenes have been liberally used for the original. Can u believe the fact that the river overflowing scene has been adapted per se from the original?

    See Bashu to believe it!

  7. If you see Majid Majidi’s Baran, you can find an uncanny resemblance of the plot in Satyan Anthikkad’s Rasathantram. In both the movies the heroine will dress as a boy and work in a construction site and only the hero will know about this. The second part of the movie takes a different route, but the similarity is pretty evident.

  8. Yes Ramesh, thats absolutely right! The parallels cannot be ignored. I have seen Born into Brothels as well, and the climax scene of CN as Shahul said is heavily ‘inspired’ as well.

    And I feel MM has rightly pointed out about Dileep’s pronunciation. Its nothing short of atrocious. The least he could have done is to polish it up a bit before making those hilarious utterances.

  9. These directors has to be aware that such criticisms is going on. Or someone should inform them to read this site. Such lifts should be brought in public and their halo should be taken off. A guy told me Lal Jose’s debut movie “Maravathoor Kanavu” is also a straight lift from a foreign movie. I forgot the name of the movie.

  10. Sajeev

    You are absolutely right!
    Thats a French movie called Jean De Florette that was released in 1986.

    Here is the link!
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091288/plotsummary

  11. seen culcutta news yesterday…..a short story narrated well enough…..The black magic gimmicks in the movie is just to make the situation a bit more mysterious as the narrator himself is suspectfull towards the authenticity of the black magician’s words……

  12. no matter what the original may be,we malayalees can see some world class movies in our own language…isnt that a good thing?

  13. Thankfully we have company in Tamil industry for shameless lifting. Checkout the fish face posters from Vikram’s new Movie Kandasami:

    http://www.indiareel.com/Tamil/gallery.asp?MovieNo=447

    And here’s the original:

    http://haha.nu/creative/fish-bodyface-art/

    They didn’t even bother to alter the fish or the color!

  14. @vinu
    jeeez
    [No SMS language please – ed]
    i guess blessy watches a lot movies..The story is a clear lift.. but blessy a smartie changed the climax.. in bashu the family accepts the kidd. there r similar scenes too… watch it guyz and u will know

  15. Vinu thanks for the french movie name. And Jojo it is okay we malayalees can enjoy world class movies. But just leave the story name blank to respect the real writer like what Padmarajan did in Kaanamarayathu since it is a copy of Daddy long legs by judy webster. So here is one more evidence to frame the skills of sreenivasan, the intellect. And think of udayananu thaaram except the bowfinger paste parts! Is not it Mukundetta sumitra vilikkunnu the story idea of was which was taken from an orean drama. Courtesy was given to that orea drama in the title cards. Stealing the skills of someone without his knowledge happens to be the story idea of both the films. Long live sreeni and lal jose.

  16. I saw the movie Calcutta news last weekend and i must say that i am very disappointed to see a fake movie being made…copied from different world movies and because of this the flow of the story/events in the movie is highly appaling…the so called great director blessy is trying to fool our intelligence with some very mediocre script and characters…if dileep wants to speak english in a movie, i think he should get his english pronunciation right.. he should not be talking “manglish”…and the bengali which he talks is bogus….a huge disappointment..

  17. Seems that blessy’s steam has run out with his fourth film. Allegations were made be someone that he lifted the story of his third one “palunku”. A story with no brilliance. When water is poured on an uneven surface the liquid takes different directions. That’s what has happened to the movie. An imperfect story and dull direction which ate up 5 crore plus. Blessy, what next? Another steamless story and you are out.

  18. Having heard the story of Calcutta News, I have the following doubts:

    Does a beautiful woman like the character done by Meera Jasmine needs to go for a ‘Samuha Vivaham’ to have a husband? Why the director, did not look for an ordinary looking girl for this role? So, the director wanted to exploit the star value of Meera Jasmine. When others making a movie, there is a barrier between good and bad, but some directors making a movie there is no barrier. All are making good movie, no bad movie? Is it not the hypocricy?

  19. Seems blessy lifted the story from the film “priya” penned and directed by the eminent writer c.radhakrishnan. Article about this appeared in ‘tic tic’. In priya the backdrop is old bombay. The base of ‘priya’ is from the writer’s story ‘thevidissi’.

  20. “He staggers on quite a few occasions and essentially needs a few lessons in articulation.”

    Dileep is a mimicry artist, he is not an actor.
    He is one of the luckiest people to have risen up to the level of being a lead actor.

    And Lal Jose’s debut film was written by Sreenivasan.

  21. I guess Malayalam cinema needs some new generation script writers.
    We lack some good stories, so the youth should be encouraged.

    Where is the Siddique-Lal and “Ramji Rao Speaking” of the 21st century?

  22. I agree with James on his comment about Dileep. Together with Screenplay writer duo, he brought the standard of Malayalam cinema to thara level.

  23. I know its an old thread but I will still leave this comment here. I saw some comments that Sreenivasan is a copying guy. Guys please watch Jean De Florette before making such allegations. The water blocking is a very important part of the story. In Maravathoor its just an element in the story. Just watch both the movies and you will realize how different they are. Same goes for Bow Finger and Udayananu Thaaram. Whole of Bow Finger is about making a movie without the actor knowing that he is being shot. Whereas in Udayananu Thaaram that is only used in the climax. Also Udayananu Thaaram is a satirical take on the Malayalam movie industry’s hypocrisies.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.


Get Adobe Flash player