Kolkata, 03 Apr 2022 14:21 IST
Directed by Raajhorshee De, the film puts too many complex characters into the mix and is then forced to contrive an ending.
Raajhorshee De’s multi-starrer film Abbar Kanchanjangha tells the story of the Deb family which reunites after several years at its ancestral home Abhilash in Darjeeling, facing Mount Kanchenjungha. The family embodies the line from Hamlet, 'something is rotten in the state of Denmark', a line that Saswata Chatterjee’s Sumitra, an outsider in the gathering, uses to describe the goings-on.
The film begins with a narration by Buni (Arpita Pal Chatterjee), only daughter of the Deb family, as she introduces her siblings — four brothers — and their relations in the credit sequence. Eldest son Tridib Deb (Kaushik Sen) has planned the reunion with all members of the extended family after 20 years in Abhilash, which, he says, has wrought miracles in the family for years.
The complicated equations in the life of each of the siblings begin to unravel the moment they set out for Abhilash. Third brother and second youngest sibling Debesh (Rahul Banerjee), now a busy, corrupt politician, refuses to be cordial with Buni’s husband Sumitra, a journalist who has voiced his criticism of Debesh’s corrupt ways many times.
Like all the other members of the family, youngest sibling Rohit (Gaurav Chakrabarty) has his own agenda for joining the reunion with live-in partner Angelina (Devlina Kumar).
On the evening before Christmas eve, Tridib finally reveals his motive for calling everyone together: he wants them to collectively decide on disposing of the property. The revelation leads to a nasty confrontation among the family members. Buni receives a shock and requests Sumitra to resolve the situation by playing Santa Claus among her selfish siblings, much the way their late father used to do years ago.
The flawed characters, their scandalous histories and dysfunctional lives drive the narrative. Yet, it does not quite make sense when Tridib, the person who has convened the reunion to decide on selling off the ancestral property, is also the most enthusiastic when it comes to wallowing in nostalgia about the house and its supposed miraculous features.
When the ugly sides of the various characters are revealed, and the family seems to be on the verge of falling apart, it becomes quite easy to predict the ending. Sumitra’s Santa Claus plays his part in encouraging the characters to keep their selfish interests aside. The director doesn’t allow the characters, who have been sketched with so many complexities, to undergo an organic transformation but forces them to sort out their problems for a contrived ending with a touch of tragedy.
Kaushik Sen’s character should have been written better. Bidipta Chakraborty as his wife, Tanushree Chakraborty as Debesh’s wife caught in an unfulfilling marriage and reminded of an unrequited love from the past, and Ranita Das as Buni’s sensitive niece Ritawja deliver decent performances.
Rahul Banerjee, with his dramatic performance, hides the faults in the writing of his character of a self-obsessed, temperamental politician.
Arpita Chatterjee and Saswata Chatterjee portray strong chemistry as the sensible couple who are deeply in love and also aware of an impending tragedy.
Gopi Bhagat’s camera captures the turbulent emotions of each of the characters but fails to establish a strong connection between the magnificent natural surroundings and the characters. Though the director’s attempt at establishing a thread connecting all the characters’ narratives seems strained, editor Sanglap Bhowmick makes the transitions for each of the subplots relatively smooth.
Ashu Chakraborty’s musical arrangement for the songs is soothing; but the sudden rock concert-like background score does not sit well with the several heated moments in the film.
By repeatedly speaking of the magical features of the house, it appears that the director wanted to convey that it is only adjustments and noble intentions of the members that can perform a miracle and keep a fractured family together. The cause would, perhaps, have been served better by investing in fewer and well-written characters and allowing them to grow out of their circumstances.
Abbar Kanchanjangha was released in theatres across West Bengal on 1 April 2022.
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