Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Kaalbela (Calcutta My Love) 
Samaresh Majumdar’s novel Kaalbela (The Odd Hours), which was a fascinating time-capsule of the turbulent 1960's and 70’s Calcutta, remains both an exceedingly popular Bengali novel and a terrific work of art. Compressing a layered and dense book like that into a movie would have been a tough task for anyone. Never to shy away from challenge, Goutam Ghose did take up this arduous task; the end result, one must agree, is reasonably competent and satisfying. Parambrata Chatterjee, in a role any actor would give a limb or two for, plays the principal protagonist Animesh Mitra, an idealistic young guy from North Bengal who has come down to Calcutta to study Bengali literature. Unbeknownst to him, he lands right in the middle of a political hotbed. Over the next few years, he slowly gets indoctrinated into the ultra-Leftist ideologies, and becomes part of the student-led urban guerrilla movement by the name of Naxalism. He also finds love in the form of Madhabilata (very well played by Paoli Dam), a fiercely independent fellow college student, and it is her love that will keep him alive when his grand visions of an egalitarian, classless society get shattered into a thousand pieces. The film did seem a tad disarticulated at times (in need of better editing and bigger budget perhaps) and certainly not as emotionally resonating or gut-wrenching as the book, but I found this well-enacted film a laudatory effort on Ghose’s part nonetheless.
Director: Goutam Ghose
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Romantic Drama