Review Bengali

Kishore Kumar Junior review: Kaushik Ganguly successfully pays tribute to the konthi singers

Cinestaan Rating

Release Date: 12 Oct 2018 / Rated: U / 02hr 25min

Roushni Sarkar

The film's story offers a peek into the life of a Kishore Kumar konthi, who lives off by performing the songs of his ‘devata’ in the obscure corners of Bengal.

Earlier, in an interview with Cinestaan.com, director Kaushik Ganguly stated that if a story is told in a simple form, it hits the audience with greater depth. This is exactly what he has done with Kishore Kumar Junior, starring Prosenjit Chatterjee, Aparajita Adhya and Rajesh Sharma.

The film's story offers a peek into the life of a Kishore konthi (Chatterjee), who lives off by performing the songs of his ‘devata’ i.e. Kishore Kumar in the obscure corners of Bengal. Konthi is a term used for singers who do covers of a popular singer. To the rustic audience, this konthi is the superstar, a shadow of the legend. Yet in reality he is a middle-class man full of passion and insecurities, who often bares his frustrations on his dedicated wife Rita (Aparajita Adhya) and his son Rishi (Rwitobroto Mukherjee), who is fed up of the shadow image of his father.

In the Junior’s (as the character is called in the film) life, all the glitters are confined to his evenings. No matter how drunk he is, he manages to deliver the tunes of his 'god' to the audience with great enthusiasm. Though, he is grateful for the being identified as the 'Kishore Kumar Junior', his frustrations become apparent when he gives into alcohol. At times he feels sorry for his reckless, irresponsible lifestyle and apologises to his son. However, when confronted about his profession, he is as stubborn as a wooden log and defends his idol.

The director has taken inspiration from the life of popular konthi Goutam Ghosh, though he seems to have taken much liberty in giving the story a twist. Junior is suddenly invited to sing at the Indo-Pak border as part of a programme organised by the Government of India to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. Initially he is surprised, however, he soon begins the rehearsals with his entire team.

As soon as they reach Jaisalmer, they are received by a few local people. On the way to their destination, the people reveal themselves to be thugs and abduct the group. They treat the artists with respect but do not disclose their identity and the reason behind the abduction.

Here Ganguly manages to sustain the mystery till the climax of the film and at the same time, brings out more shades of the characters, more elements out of a konthi singer with interesting interactions between the thugs and the travelling group.

Ganguly pays tribute to the konthi singers as he presents the simple plot of kidnap against the unwavering devotion of Junior to his idol and his inextricable connection with music. It also becomes apparent that a konthi singer lives on essentially as an artiste of common men. Here, Junior is seen as a thorough artist of immense talent and capabilities, who comes into full energy even in the state of confinement and manages to engage his enemies with his singing.

The director adds more layers to the storyline as he explores the character of the proagonists wife’s with a lot of drama and emotions of a Bengali housewife. Junior’s flute player and confidante Khokon’s (Lama Halder) character also has a journey in the film.

The chemistry between the singer and his wife is endearing yet complex. Throughout the course of actions, the wife establishes the dialogue — "it takes talent to be an artist but to become an artist’s wife, it requires courage" — by standing brave beside him, irrespective of the circumstances, despite facing abuses from him in the beginning. The equation between the two definitely reveals the grey shades of the characters, but the sacrifices made by his wife might appear a bit problematic to the audience.

Surprisingly, when the entire team goes missing, the members of the ministry don’t bother to look for them. This seems to be a lapse in the course of the plot. If the director’s intention was to show that the so-called important people are not really bothered about these not-so-distinguished artists, he could have at least shown the lack of interest. Only when Junior’s son pursues the people in charge of the program, one of the ministers asks him to keep quiet till no news is received.

Actor Prosenjit Chatterjee manages to retain a certain enigma of the character yet brings out his shortcomings in his dramatic act. He mostly fits into the character of the devoted singer but shines more as the performer, who knows how to transfix the audience.

Actress Aparajita Adhya is also convincing as the soft natured, yet brave wife of the passionate and not-so -practical artist. She successfully emotes all the shades of kindness, vulnerability and responsibility of her character with honesty.

Actor Lama Halder too retains the grounded and rustic nature of his character with a natural performance. Actor Rajesh Sharma, who plays one of the thugs, delivers a dramatic act as one who is rough on the outside but respects values and humanity the most. The actor who plays Taufiq, the head of the thugs, too, leaves a mark with his performance.

Needless to say, the songs of Kishore Kumar sung by both Kumar Sanu and Babul Supriyo play an integral part in the film. Through the songs, Ganguly and music director Indraadip Dasgupta have ensured that the audience not only carries the songs in their hearts, but also relate to the pulse and emotions of the not-so-revered 'junior' singer. The Rajasthani folk songs during the climax add to the mood of departure for the audience.

The jump shots from Junior's performances in the forts of the desert to his previous performances on stage are cleverly edited by Subhajit Singha.

“Kishore Kumar is nowhere in the film yet he is everywhere,” Ganguly had said in the interview and he sticks to this idea till the very end. There are some melodramatic dialogues that go well with the emotionally charged story.  

Junior's movements, dreams and consciousness on the whole revolving around his idol only prove his ingenuinity as an artist. The progression of the problematic equation between the father and the son takes a predictable course, however, the climax of it proves that Kishore Kumar and his songs never get outdated.

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