(Crossposted at Movie Mazaa)
Blessyâ€™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 Blessyâ€™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 spectatorâ€™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 doesnâ€™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. Itâ€™s unbelievably unsure of itself. One moment itâ€™s a drippy, dopey tale of romance and a psychological thriller the next; at times itâ€™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 whatâ€™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.
Itâ€™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 isnâ€™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. Thereâ€™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.