Kolkata, 11 Feb 2019 16:44 IST
Though the film does not offer an engaging experience, it can be watched for the dedicated performances by almost the entire cast.
Recently, some Bengali filmmakers have tried to tell ensemble stories through a single film, linking them up in the end. This also appears to be a relatively easier method, as the director can focus within limited spheres of different stories and does not have to invest a lot in delineating the journey of all the characters.
Anjan Dutt follows the trend in his latest Finally Bhalobasa. The three different stories of the film are named after three ailments — Arthritis, Insomnia and HIV-positive. In each story, one of the characters suffers from the disease. However, the titles do not carry much significance as, apart from HIV-positive, neither of the other two stories establishes any connection of love with the ailment.
Except for in HIV-positive, how the characters eventually find their respective true loves at the end is also not clear. Moreover, flashing the title every time during the transition from one story to another is not only unnecessary but also interrupts the flow of the plot.
Insomnia revolves around an eccentric businessman (Arindam Sil) who beats his wife (Raima Sen) now and then. His excessive interest in the body and its reflexes does not come across as natural. At times, it seems comical.
He hires Bibek (Arjun Chakraborty), a naive young man, as his secretary. Bibek’s roommate Sallu (Saurav Das) reveals that Bibek’s boss has a dark past, having murdered his previous two secretaries.
Bibek expresses solidarity when he learns of his madam's thrashing at her husband's hand. But despite being in a relationship, he does not seem to be too affected when she wishes to meet him for some intimate moments or kisses his hand suddenly. Also, while he doesn’t seem to be too brave and undaunted after learning of the fate of previous secretaries, he gives in to his madam’s demand to elope with her.
In Arthritis, Ahiri (Sauraseni Maitra), who spends her days smoking, accidentally comes in front of the car of ex-military officer Dinesh (Anjan Dutt), who takes her home. She also plays the trumpet and is associated with jazz music. Dinesh suffers from arthritis.
Ahiri and Dinesh do not take much time to become intimate. Also, the ambitious trumpeter Ahiri decides to leave her career goals in no time to accompany Dinesh, who needs to pay an emergency visit to Darjeeling. Intentional or not, Dinesh seems to feel the pain of his ailment every time he needs to form a close bond with Ahiri or, later, Rajat.
Joy (Anirban Bhattacharya) is an HIV-positive patient. Acting and films run in his blood. Though he is on the verge of death, he imagines the world to be a stage and wishes to live every moment to the brim, often getting his nurse, friend and confidante Rajat (Suprobhat Das) into trouble. Dutt seems to have woven this particular story with utmost care and its climax establishes the victory of love over any kind of treatment.
In HIV-positive, the equation between Joy and Rajat comes across as complex, desperate yet beautiful while the equations in the other two stories do not go through any organic progression. Though both Ahiri and Bibek are far from stable characters, they do not feel vulnerable nor does the director intend to peek into their psychology before they take some bold decision.
Also, both Ahiri and Bibek seem to be unaffected by all the tumultuous incidents that lead them to the climax. On the one hand, Bibek doesn’t fear to take risks while trying to elope with his boss’s wife. At the end, he doesn’t think twice about his madam, with whom he empathized so deeply, before going back to his girlfriend.
Similarly, Ahiri’s immediate happiness to see her boyfriend during the climax reduces her character to a superficial one, who doesn’t seem to feel deeply for anyone.
Dutt hardly establishes the journey towards finding true love. Neither does he show how hormones run faster than emotions. The director seems to have lost track in the crowd of all the characters. Also, one wonders why a homosexual always has to be diagnosed with HIV.
Dutt also fails to explore the potential for friendship in Insomnia and the complexities of a romantic relationship between two characters from different age groups in Arthritis.
Though the film does not offer an engaging experience, it can be watched for the dedicated performances by almost the entire cast. Dutt brings alive the fragilities as well as the caring side of his character with sensitivity. Sauraseni Maitra gets into the skin of Ahiri. Arjun Chakraborty never falters as the timid and confused Bibek.
Anirban Bhattacharya uses his theatrics according to the demands of his character, never going overboard. Suprobhat Das is quite subtle as the sensitive nurse who sheds all his frustrations on the punching bag and desires to give some moment of pure joy to the person he cares for the most, in his heart.
Sourav Das is extremely natural in his portrayal and brings authenticity in his mixed Bengali-Hindi accent. Arindam Sil delivers his best; however, the character itself appears to be quite pretentious. Raima Sen’s act is one-dimensional.
Neel Dutt’s music plays a major role in giving some moments of relief in the film that appears to be quite grim visually. The song 'Koto Koto Mon' deserves a major part of the credit. Gairik Sarkar and Arghyakamal Mitra have made major contributions in capturing the emotions of all the characters in great detail.
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