Review Bengali

Abyakto review: Emotionally potent story of a dysfunctional mother-son relationship

Release Date: 31 Jan 2020 / Rated: U / 01hr 28min

Cinestaan Rating

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Suparna Thombare

Director Arjunn Dutta unravels layers of the restrained relationship between a mother and son, through snippets from the protagonist's childhood memories. 

Director Arjunn Dutta's debut film, Abyakto, is a beautiful depiction of childhood memories that affect us all deeply as we enter adulthood, but may not always reveal the entire truth. 

Abyakto narrates the journey of Indra (Anubhav Kanjilal) through snippets from his childhood as he is forced to revisit them when he returns to his hometown Kolkata to take care of property matters two years after his father's death. 

His restrained relationship with his mother in the present is obvious, but to reach the root of it requires unravelling of several layers that Dutta does in the most simple yet beautiful manner. 

Indra has become a person that in worldy terms can be called normal and successful, but he feels that his mother never really let him become the man that he yearned to be as a child. 

The memories that come to us intermittently in the form of flashbacks, slowly and steadily reveal the depths of the dysfunctional relationship between the son and his mother Sathi (Arpita Pal Chatterjee). 

They also reveal a certain respect for his father Kaushik (Anirban Ghosh) and his fondness for his father’s friend Rudra (Adil Hussain).

Instances from his childhood reveal his mother as a beautiful woman with an equally beautiful voice, but one with an ill temper. And classical music works as an important tool in the screenplay. 

Why would a woman, who herself has creative talents forbid her son from exploring his? 

She won't allow her son to explore his creative side or play girly games, which he is inclined towards. She also often loses her temper at her husband for encouraging her son to follow his heart. She also doesn't like the influence of Rudra, who recites fascinating works of literature to her son and buys doll houses for him. She is often annoyed by his interference in their personal lives. 

As the memories are replayed to us on screen, a picture begins to form, but the complete picture is  never revealed until the very end. 

While all the performances are decent, it's Dutta's sensitive and creative story-telling through perceptions that creates an emotionally potent film from a seemingly simple plot. 

Each of the three characters have had a huge impact in shaping up Indra's childhood and each of them also has their own truth, hidden away in plain sight. When the truth is revealed, one can see the emotional baggage that each of the characters has been carrying through out their lives, making the end, an emotionally overwhelming one. 

Perhaps, one should not rely fully on his or her childhood memories to understand the relationships shared with parents and the person that we become as an adult because they may never really reveal the complete truth.

Abyakto was screened at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Panaji, Goa on 23 November.

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