Kolkata, 04 Nov 2018 19:43 IST
Though the lead pair are partners in real life, they fail to generate any meaningful chemistry on screen in this film hobbled by poor writing.
Films such as Raja Chanda’s Girlfriend are proof that when it comes to making mainstream romantic films, Bengali directors do not bother to experiment or address the topic with a fresh approach.
Instead they tend to rely on formulae that have not only been exhausted for years but have become quite outdated as well. The leading artistes' comfort in being confined to stereotypical roles is also to be blamed for this.
The male protagonist of the film, Bonny Sengupta, almost reprises the character he had played in his previous film Raja Rani Raji (2018). Co-star Koushani Mukherjee, who happens to be Sengupta's real-life partner, also portrays a character very similar to the one played by Rittika Sen in Raja Rani Raji.
The film follows the predictable pattern of an uneducated young man falling in love with a topper who comes from a family that has nothing in common with his. Hence, trouble creeps in the way of their union and the young man eventually proves himself to be the most suitable partner for the supposedly intelligent woman.
First of all, why the director chose to name his characters after legends from the glorious past of Bengali cinema is not known. The idea doesn’t invoke humour nor does the flat and absurd plot of the film do any justice to the memory of the artistes.
Uttam Kumar (Sengpupta) is born to a father (Shankar Chakraborty) who runs his family by stealing petrol and parts of vehicles and selling them in the black market. As he himself is illiterate, he can hardly guide his good-for-nothing son on the right path. Hence, Uttam Kumar does not even feel guilty after he fails in the exams and randomly mistreats people on the road.
Uttam Kumar meets with a minor accident with Kamal Mitra (Bharat Kaul), a health inspector, who is obsessed with the importance of quality and learns that his daughter Suchitra (Koushani Mukherjee) was a state topper in the board exams. Uttam Kumar also suddenly bumps into Suchitra and falls in love with her. To stalk her, he follows her to her college and though he never gets admission, he roams around freely there and even takes part in a stage production, supposedly a play!
The topper apparently loves all this stalking and finds in Uttam Kumar the right outlet to vent her frustration about a mechanical lifestyle. When Uttam Kumar asks for her hand for marriage, Kamal Mitra asks him to prove his ‘eligibility’ by earning an amount that is needed to run his well-off family for a month. Quite predictably, the ‘hero’ accepts the challenge and sets out to prove himself.
The topper only raises her voice when she wants her fiancé to be beaten up by Uttam Kumar. She remains silent like a bimbo whenever her domineering father insults the love of her life. That she loves Uttam Kumar and does not want to marry the young man chosen by her father is also conveyed by the latter to her father. The supposedly intelligent girl remains at her street-smart boyfriend’s mercy throughout the film.
Uttam Kumar is not only an irritating character, but he also never proves himself to be capable of earning a living honestly. Apart from delivering a few sentimental dialogues at the end, his character has nothing to stand for in the entire film. His acrobatics do not invoke laughter at any point.
NK Salil’s writing is not just bad but regressive. The way Sengupta’s character compares his love interest with a Rs2,000 note is not funny. Nor, for that matter, is his dialogue, “98.3, it’s hot!”
In the second half, Mitra calls a few relatives of his, saying he is going to give them a supari (contract) to tackle Uttam Kumar; however, what they really do in the subsequent segments does not make any sense. The climax, which doesn’t arrive with any twist, establishes the lack of depth in each of the characters and the absence of logic in the storyline.
Despite being a couple in real life, Sengupta and Mukherjee never manage to create any impactful chemistry on screen. Sengupta is quite natural as the happy-go-lucky Uttam Kumar, Mukherjee is mostly stiff.
Bharat Kaul attempts to leave as much impact as he can as the antagonist and stubborn father irrespective of the weakness of the script. Kanchan Mullick shines in his brief appearance as an effeminate bus conductor, who is attracted towards Uttam Kumar. Shankar Chakraborty also delivers his best as Sengupta’s desperate and illiterate father.
The title track 'Girlfriend', sung by Rupam Islam and composed by Jeet Gannguli, goes well with the mood of the budding romance. Also, the songs 'Aalto Chhuye' and 'Mon Kharap e Brishti' provide the few moments of relief in the film.
The film is only bearable in the first half. Throughout the second, you almost can't wait for it to end. Even Murali Krishna and Gopi Bhagat’s sleek camerawork and Mohd Kalam’s attempt of retaining a fast screenplay cannot save the film from becoming a disaster.
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