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Review Hindi

Music Teacher review: Love in Shimla, mixed in with regret and bitterness

Release Date: 19 Apr 2019

Read in: Hindi

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Sonal Pandya

The drama, written and directed by Sarthak Dasgupta, has sympathetic characters but does not raise the bar musically.

Music teacher Beni Madhav Singh (Manav Kaul) lives a simple life in the mountains with his mother (Neena Gupta) and sister Urmi. It’s not the life he had imagined for himself, but it is the life he has settled into. Besides tutoring students in music, he is a singer at a local club.

Every now and then, he wonders what his life could have been if, eight years ago, he had made a different choice. In the past, Beni returned to Shimla after his father’s death to take care of his family. An aspiring singer who dreams of making it big in Mumbai, he takes up music lessons while he is around.

One of his students is the young and impressionable Jyotsna Ray (Amrita Bagchi). The two hit it off instantly. As a music teacher, Beni is exacting and demands perfection. Jyotsna, fondly called Jonai by Beni, has no musical ambitions of her own, but allows herself to be entered in a competition that will change her life.

In the present, Jyotsna is now a National Award-winning singer who has won nationwide fame and Beni is older, but not wiser in his position. The hometown singer is returning for a special show by the Shimla Culture Club, and Beni is determined to bury his feelings and avoid her at all costs.

But his regret and longing which has lain dormant for so many years, comes back with a vengeance. Manav Kaul, as the directionless Beni, who has watched his student surpass him, brings real emotion to his role. His character rolls through a range of emotions throughout the film and it’s wonderful to see a male character acknowledge something important as a failure and speak about his feelings.

Beni is surrounded by a cast full of women who are unafraid of speaking their mind in front of him. Neena Gupta, as his mother, tries to navigate him through his current dilemma. When he insists on perfection, yet again, in his life. “Life is never perfect,” she insists.

Jyotsna, his first love, is direct in her feelings but when she asks him to marry her, his answer leads her to make a difficult choice. Then there’s Geeta, played by Divya Dutta, Beni’s understanding neighbour who has been deserted by her husband. Her lingering sadness matches Beni, but he is unable to leave Jyotsna in the past.

Writer-director Sarthak Dasgupta takes his lead character, Beni, on a journey of self-discovery through waiting. He has created well-etched and sympathetic characters whose inner turmoil will affect you. Beni and Jyotsna have been holding onto their anger for eight years and their long-awaited reunion felt unsatisfactory.

The supporting characters that surround them also get their say.

But for a film revolving around music, the songs composed by Rochak Kohli are underwhelming. The film recreates a few old Kishore Kumar hits and singer Papon lends his voice to Kaul, while Neeti Mohan is Jyotsna’s voice.

The film’s highlight is the beautiful setting of mountain city of Shimla. The constant greenery captured by Kaushak Mandal’s camera is soothing and makes you wish to see those stunning views as well.

Dasgupta’s film builds the narrative well, but within the last few minutes, ends things abruptly. This reviewer could have done with a little more time in their world.

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