Review Bengali

The Round Trip: Middling film that fails to do justice to an intriguing idea

Release Date: 24 Feb 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

The short film explores the desire to know one's roots but fails to capture the complex anxieties or emotions involved.

How important are blood relations and what is their significance for a person? This is the question Priyam Chanda’s short film, The Round Trip, seeks to explore through the journey of its protagonist, Sanaya (Asmita Bhaduri).

Sanaya and her husband Mihir (Avinaba Pal Chaudhury) have been trying for a baby and are contemplating adoption. However, for Sanaya, blood relations are integral and she sets out to find her family, hoping to make a connection with her roots. She locates a first cousin, Tushar (Anindya Banerjee), in India and makes the journey from New York to Kolkata to connect with him. But when she meets him, she realizes that the reality is very different from what she had imagined and she has to confront certain uncomfortable truths about her past.

The film refers to The Human Genome project that set out to map the human genome and examines the deep desire in humans to know about their ancestry. It offers a statistic at the end that tells us how many millions spend vast amounts of money in the hope of finding their ancestors. It is this desire that brings Sanaya to India, but she finds something unexpected and is forced to reassess her insistence on blood relations. 

The short film's theme is certainly unusual and the title captures the protagonists’ mindscape succinctly, but the treatment is flat as the characters fail to engage the audience with their predicament. Much is left to the audience’s imagination and we have to try and piece together the motivations of characters and fill in the blanks. There simply aren’t enough details for the characters to be fully etched out or for us to empathize with their actions.

The questions explored in the film are foundational, with ancestry, family and roots being brought to the fore. Yet the characters fail to convey the complexity of emotions such an exploration would evoke. The actors go through the motions, with the exception of Anindya Banerjee whose performance is notable. 

The director tries to build an air of suspense, especially with the use of a non-linear narrative, but there is little depth to be found. Overall, it is a passable film with an interesting idea that could have been presented in an engaging and inventive manner.

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