Kolkata, 25 May 2019 9:00 IST
The director ought to have gone through the script for Jadu Kadal several times to omit the many unnecessary sequences and give more thought to the climax.
Meghdut Rudra’s Jadu Kadai is supposed to be a fantasy tale, but it just tests the viewer's patience with its average cinematic composition. The fantasy elements seem to be there just for fancy while the simplicity of the tale is also a problem as this is not a children's film.
Initially, the film does appear interesting with some humorous parts that don’t seem forced, but, gradually, the screenplay loses its fizz with needless sequences and plenty of dialogue. The dramatic twists are also more in the beginning. In the latter part, the story just loses its spontaneity and the slow pace of the film, without anticipation or suspense, does not work.
The film is about a magical kadai, or frying pan, that changes the life of talented home cook Bikram (Rahul Banerjee) who has been working as an accountant owing to pressure from his zamindar (feudal landlord) family. His lineage doesn’t have much connection with his lifestyle or character traits. It only carries significance in relation to the kadai.
In the beginning, we are told Bikram has perpetual stomach trouble, which is strange for a cook of his quality who is always conscious of using fresh ingredients. Also, it is hard to digest that a skilful cook can be such a simpleton in his way of life.
Bikram’s sudden plunges into his deepest desires and imagination that he cannot fulfil in real life deliver a few moments of joy. Only next to his passion for cooking is his desire for colleague and love interest Rupsa (Sayani Datta), who thinks him stupid. However, his passion for cooking is well known and so another colleague, Priyanka, sometimes pushes her to consider Bikram just to get access to the dishes he makes.
Bikram receives the magical kadai in the beginning of the film in curious circumstances from a stranger, who claims to be a seller of antique household curios. However, it takes Bikram long to discover its magical abilities and the moment does not even feel like a revelation.
Bikram goes on a quest to unearth the mystery of the kadai. He gets a warning from an elderly fellow at his native village about the pan's association with the sins of generations. Bikram is in a fix but eventually decides to use it for beneficial reasons. But given the predictability of the script, information of the magical kadai falls into the wrong hands and Bikram lands in situations that he had pledged not to be in.
The climax is a big let-down, as if the director did not find enough inspiration to push the narrative further and find an interesting way out.
Whether Rudra wanted the story to have a fairytale-like structure is unclear. Besides the ample and unnecessary sequences of conversation among various characters, including Bikram and his colleague on the morning of a scheduled party, or the one between his flatmate Timir (Amit Saha) and Rupsa on the road, it doesn’t make any sense when Bikram reveals about the kadai and its role in building his relationship with Rupsa and the latter doesn’t even react.
The entire episode of marriage within a month and the businessman taking advantage of Bikram’s kadai doesn’t contain any element to engage the audience.
Moreover, director Rudra has not invested much thought into the cooking itself. Had Bikram been an amateur cook with a lot of aspiration and the kadai had lent him some special skills, the fantasy part might have made a greater impact.
At times Rahul Banerjee acts way more idiotically than the script demanded. He lacks the body language of a cook and is never seen cooking properly in the film even once. His act is mostly one-dimensional.
Sayani Datta’s act is average, lacking drama. The only engaging performance is delivered by Amit Saha, who is quick and spontaneous even under the amateurish direction.
The director is squarely to be blamed for the not-so-engrossing performances. There are sequences in which the artistes can be seen giving false looks to the camera.
The tone and light are not in synch with the situations in the film. Cinematographer Subhadeep Dey hardly takes any close-ups to capture emotions and his camerawork prevents any moment from the film leaving a deeper impact on the viewer.
Meghdut Rudra should have gone through the script a few more times to omit the unnecessary sequences and give more thought to the climax. The film has every trait to disappoint food lovers and cooks. Jadu Kadai is simply a failed attempt to make a fairytale-like film, with the journey of an underdog who emerges victorious after fighting evil.
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