Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Open Tee Bioscope [2015]

The Bengali music band Chandrabindu wonderfully complements humour with nostalgic evocations that may be referred to as ‘Bangaliana’ (the pop-cultural equivalent of Americana, perhaps). The debut directorial venture of Anindya Chatterjee (one of the band’s prime vocalists and songwriters), Open Tee Bioscope, thus, as one may anticipate, is packed with flavours and memories of growing up in a milieu that’s distinctively ‘Old Calcutta’ – narrow meandering lanes, dilapidated colonial-era mansions, the co-existence of Karl Marx and lumpen proletariat, a love for football extending from “India’s Maradona” Krishanu Dey to Tele Santana’s Brazil, the ‘para’ (community) spirit, lamentations on ‘good ol’ days’ by the old-timers, and the act of growing up relived through tinted glasses. Understandably, it’s easy for a film like this to fall into the trap of sentimentality and clichés. While it does have these flaws, to the director’s credit he nevertheless managed to create ‘a simple tale simple told’ through a series of lovingly etched tableaus that made this enjoyable despite some of its unevenness. The coming-of-age tale’s protagonist is a troubled teenager (Riddhi Sen) haunted by memories of his dead footballer father and having a complicated relationship with his single mother (Sudipta Chakraborty) due to her potentially quid pro quo connection with a slimy local political leader (a top-notch Kaushik Sen). Three developments help in his transition – his friendship with a group of fun-loving street urchins; his falling in love with the girl who, unlike him, belongs to a ‘bhadralok’ bourgeois family; and his unlikely camaraderie with an ageing and volatile former football coach (Rajatava Dutta). The film comprises of quirky moments and characters, albeit tad forced at times, and an excellent soundtrack capturing both fun and melancholia.

Director: Anindya Chatterjee
Genre: Comedy-Drama/Buddy Film/Urban Drama/Coming-of-Age
Language: Bengali
Country: India

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