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Review Bengali

Kuler Achaar review: Half-baked screenplay makes this drama film a tedious watch

Release Date: 15 Jul 2022

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Roushni Sarkar

Directed by Sudeep Das, the film, which critiques the patriarchal mindset, boasts a commanding performance by Indrani Haldar.

Sudeep Das’s Kuler Achaar, starring Madhumita Sarcar, Vikram Chatterjee, Indrani Haldar and Sujan Mukherjee, depicts how the evils of patriarchy get passed down through generations until rebellious family members break the cycle.

The film tells the story of a woman who chooses to retain her maiden name after marriage amid objections from her in-laws. Initially, this seems to be a trivial issue, but the self-proclaimed guardian of the pedigree of the family turns it into a matter of ego.

Mithi (Sarcar) and her husband Pritam (Chatterjee) get into trouble during their honeymoon when the police call into question their marital status because of their different surnames. Mithi is also disappointed with her husband for putting her up in a shady hotel and becomes adamant about returning home as soon as possible. Upon their early return from their honeymoon, Pritam’s parents turn anxious. As they learn the truth, Pritam and his father (Mukherjee) holds Mithi to blame.

The family's problems do not subside with time. Pritam’s father’s friends stoke his egoistic beliefs and he decides to compel Mithi to adopt the family's surname. Mithi’s mother-in-law (Haldar), on the other hand, realizes she is not being unreasonable but is striving to retain a link with her own family history.

One of the strengths of the storyline is that all the characters go through organic transformations. While Mithi is clear about her intentions, it also hits her in moments of acute crisis that she values her relatives and their well-being above her own interests. On the other hand, her mother-in-law, who never put her desires above her family’s welfare for years, finds new meaning in life when she too decides to use her maiden name after forty years of marriage.

Despite some poorly written scenes, the film depicts how the upholders of patriarchy in a family, like Mithi’s father-in-law, victimize women until they feel completely helpless in the face of the stark reality of life and realize that their desire to protect their ego stems from personal dissatisfaction or the fact that they were deprived of fulfilling some desire at some point of their life.

The director here deserves to be lauded for not taking a diplomatic stand on hypermasculinity and female solidarity. All the male characters of the story are clearly victims of years of societal conditioning, but they hardly realize that until the women in their life turn “rebellious.”

Indrani Haldar is adorable on screen. She owns every dramatic moment with honesty and proves that after a hiatus of almost five years why she dominated the silver screen in the 1990s. Mukherjee also enacts the negative shades of his character with ease.

Chatterjee is decent as Mithi’s husband, who makes his inner transformation felt through his actions rather than words. However, Sarcar’s frivolous and one-dimensional acting rather impacts the seriousness of the storyline most of the time.

Prosenjit Chowdhury’s camerawork captures the emotional turmoil of the characters. Both the compositions by Prasen and Mainak Mazoomdar, ‘Bhul Koreche Bhul’ and ‘Ami Amar Modhye’ lend moments of relief to the screenplay, which is mostly full of chaotic moments.

While there are more grave issues pertaining to feminism around the world that could have been addressed, the film attempts to critique the patriarchal mindset in a middle-class setting. However, Bengali filmmakers these days rather seem to be hesitant to deal with serious issues in an unflinching manner and tend to incorporate frivolity to ensure mass appeal. Kuler Achaar suffers from the same problem which makes it tedious to watch at times despite its unpredictable storyline.

Kuler Achaar was released in theatres across West Bengal on 15 July.


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