AJOB PREM EBONG – OUT OF THE BOX
Banner: Ishaanee Films
Direction: Arindam De
Story and Screenplay: Padmanabha Dasgupta
Cast: Rahul, Paoli Dam, Chiranjeet, Padmanava Dasgupta, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Biswajit Chakraborty, Mithu Chakraborty, Shamik, Paran Bandopadhyay.
Date of release: August 12 2011
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[ReviewAZON asin=”B0057XXJKI” display=”inlinepost”]Sometimes, a film is released without any fanfare. Even the mandatory p.r.o. machinery is missing that hands you a press kit with pictures, brochure, a ball pen and a writing pad. These give you an idea of what to expect. But when a film is suddenly thrust on you without warning and a text message on your cell is the only indicator of a press show, you tend to shrug it off as “one of those debut making films for a director that will surely be pulled out within the week.” Ajob Prem Ebong sticks out a tongue at your thoughts. “Ajob” means strange and attached to the word “prem” it could cook up a collage of colourful images to imagine what this strange love could be. Then there is the “ebong” which means “and” promising things other than the strange love the title boasts of.
Ajob Prem Ebong is a surprise package despite the teething troubles of the new director and the lack of top stars, or, even a cohesive storyline. It sometimes threatens to reduce the narrative to a soppy melodrama but picks up in mood and tempo almost at once with intelligent tongue-in-cheek satire. Nakul (Rahul) a bus cleaner, is in love with Munni, the bus he works for. He dreams of driving into nowhere in and with Munni some day, along the dusty roads of Birbhum and Bolpur where the story is located and the film has been extensively shot. “This is my woman, I cannot live without her,” he cries out desperately when everyone tries to appropriate the bus with their own political, social and financial axes to grind.
The ‘Ebong’ is comprised of an idealist Mathematics teacher (Chiranjeet) and his assistant (Padmanabha Dasgupta) whose school runs empty because there is no bus for the children to move in and back. They wants the bus. Mahadeb (Biswajit Chakraborty) is a farmer whose son (Anirban) gets a government job in a village nearby. But while getting off the bus, the young man gets run over by the rear wheels of the bus and dies instantly. The bus belongs to one of the two political contenders (Sabyasachi Chakraborty) who hides the bus and gets the driver Makhan killed. The satire begins when the police hushes up the case of the callous accident by recording that a falling tree killed the man and not a speeding bus. His political opponent Boroda (Paran Bandopadhyay) tries to take mileage out of this incident. The two in their own distinct ways, try to curry favour from the grief-stricken, near-crazy Mahadeb. In the meanwhile, Mahadeb’s widowed daughter-in-law Moina (Paoli Dam) has fallen for Nakul and wants to run away with him. But Nakul is trapped – the bus or Moina? Both eccentric and villainous Sabyasachi and the slimy Boroda chase Maina while Sabyasachi offers the bus as compensation to Mahadeb when the latter wins in the court case against the bus owner.
Ajob Prem EbonG is a roller-coaster ride of a collage of characters – eccentric, funny, sad and pathetic in turns. Mahadeb spits out satire when he says, “those whose kids die in bus or train or car accidents can easily get a bus as compensation,” without intending to be satirical. Biswajit Chakraborty is mind-blowing as Mahadeb followed by a very controlled performance by Mithu Chakraborty as his seemingly docile but really strong wife. Chiranjit is good in a character he has never done before, shorn of his mannerisms. Padmanabha complements him ably. Rahul is natural as a normal young man afraid to fight a dozen men ready to reduce him to a pulp and torn between his love for Munni and his desire for Moina. Sabyasachi Chakraborty does a caricaturish villain that harks back to his exaggerated villainy in a popular television serial. Paoli is good in the scenes where she expresses her sexual desire but is otherwise too camera conscious with plucked eyebrows and a lovely skin, sans the dark circles a young widow is expected to have. Pamanabha’s screenplay and dialogue are pithy, satiric, funny, emotionally touching by turns. Shomik’s music is good but at least one song – the one featuring a romantic scene between Nakul and Maina sticks out terribly. The item number is another negative point and so are the repetitive romantic scenes between Nakul and Moina.
Ajob Prem Ebong is too long in footage, sometimes over-the-top in its attempt at humour, sometimes overly sentimental. But it does strike a chord somewhere deep down.
– Shoma A. Chatterji