Kolkata, 08 May 2022 11:31 IST
Directed by Rajdeep Ghosh, the film has crammed in too many life lessons and melodramatic moments for a child's viewing experience.
Rajdeep Ghosh’s debut feature film Kolkata’s Harry is also the first home production of actor-turned-producer Soham Chakraborty. Supposed to be a children’s film, Kolkata’r Harry gives some important life lessons with a fairy tale-inspired story but is loaded with sentimental clichés, a common element in most of Chakraborty’s massy romantic films as well.
Haripada Patra (Chakraborty), fondly called Kolkata’r Harry (Kolkata's Harry) by his admirers, narrates his journey from driver of a school bus to owner of Kolkata’s first storytelling café. In the flashback, we see that Hari has turned an ordinary school bus into a fantasy space, which he calls Abbulish. Hari is a big fan of the Harry Potter series and, inspired by Rowling's stories, has set his own code of conduct for the kids while travelling in Abbulish.
The mesmerized kids fondly call him Captain and have a ball on the way to and from school. Hari not only tells them enchanting stories, but he also infuses important life lessons in the anecdotes.
Of all the kids, Titli (Oishika Guhathakurta) is Hari’s favourite, and he calls her Pari. Titli’s mother (Laboni Sarkar) has all the traits of an abusive parent. She continuously puts pressure on her to study and often beats her up as well. Titli finds solace in Captain’s company and memorizes his mantras to counter her sorrow.
While Titli’s increased fascination for Harry Potter and fantasy intrigues her sister Mohor (Priyanka Sarkar) to befriend Hari, for the same reason Titli’s mother accuses him of ruining her studies. However, she doesn’t stop at that. Instead of focusing on her own problematic attitude, she proceeds to make Hari’s life miserable.
In the first part, there are ample moments interspersed with dreamy visual effects that might appeal to children. But with the progression of the story, the filmmaker has simply gone overboard in his attempt to turn Hari into a saint-like figure. The latter part, where he goes on asking for help from boarders at an old-age home to open his café, is way too boring and drags. There are ample tearjerker moments in a story that tells the tale of an underdog's journey to victory, followng the pattern of a fairy tale.
As a storyteller, Chakraborty can be seen in a different avatar from his typical romantic hero image, but in the second half, he tends to repeat his melodramatic acting style. Priyanka Sarkar is average in her portrayal of Hari’s friend who helps him achieve his dreams.
Oishika Guhathakurta as the innocent admirer of Hari's fantasy stories personifies the vulnerabilities and simplicity of children with her expressions and natural act. Laboni Sarkar as the terror-inducing mother makes a significant impact too.
Gopi Bhagat has maintained a balance between fantasy and reality with his camerawork, while editor Subhajit Singha could have cut out some moments with repetitive dialogues. Jeet Gannguli’s songs suit the moments of joy and sorrow while Avijit Kundu's background score adds to the melodramatic moments.
Apart from the visual effects and Titli's narrative, Kolkata’r Harry contains hardly any light-hearted moments suitable for children. The makers have made the film rather heavy on the mind with all the life lessons, touching upon the cases of child abuse in school buses, and also addressing the misery of elderly people abandoned by their children, that too half-heartedly.
Kolkata'r Harry was released in theatres across West Bengal on 6 May.
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