Aug 29, 2011 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Chaplin, the 2011 Bengali Movie directed by Anindo Banerjee starring Rudraneel Ghosh in name role is a tribute to Charles Chaplin. Read the review at Calcutta Tube.
There are so many ways to interpret a film that can become one of the best of its times but I choose to say that it pays a unique tribute to one of the greatest artists who ever lived- Charles Spencer Chaplin. The directorial debut of Anindo Banerjee manages to live up to all the hype and hoopla and delivers a hard hitting stunner that keeps you dazed.
A simple austere man Banshi Das who had “loved movies of Charlie” during his early childhood takes up the mantle of the legendary actor and with winks, jiggles and smiles he impersonates Chaplin to earn his bread and butter.
The light of his life is his “botu-botu”, his only son Nimua (Soham) who laughs and cries with him as they share their daily tribulations with a big heart and a sanguine smile.
Banshi at his heart believes himself to be an artist and firmly concludes that “one day people will also come to see me like that.”
Nimua’s world is centred around his father and he dreams of having a birthday party like the more affluent kids of his age but he knows about the inability of poor Banshi and accepts his fate with a captivating innocent grin.
Banshi’s disarming smile and his acting ability draws the attention of a saviour in Rina (Rachita) and he gets a chance to showcase his talents.
As the story progresses we see a struggle between Banshi the father and Banshi the artist ensues as Nimua falls prey to a fatal sickness just when Banshi hits the right notes with the judges at the talent hunt.
Banshi thus must make a choice between his dream and his love for his child and just like everything else he handles it with a surreal simplicity and unpredictable ingenuity.
The story – 4.5/5
A world of human happiness that exits in a world of social poverty. A world of a father that collides with the world of a shunned artistic genius and the worlds of so many others colludes to make the tale of “Chaplin” superior than its contemporaries.
Hats off to Padmanava for penning an innovating concept in an engaging style and portraying the reality of so many people who are brilliant at what they do and yet are deprived of the recognition they deserve.
Hats off to him for creating characters that are real and irrespective of screen time they manage to create a foothold of their own.
So often we see that characters apart from the protagonists fade away and appear redundant and irrelevant, but that is not the case for “Chaplin”.
Just as poignant and striking are Banshi and Nimua so are Zafar (Mir) and Indra (Srijit). Each and everyone of them are indispensable and play their parts perfectly to form the entire picture.
Further noticeable are the subtle expositions of each of the characters that are so fluid with the entire tale that their appearance causes no ripples in the minds of the viewers.
Throughout the movie the characters create such a pictorial influence that through their actions we can identify their feelings even without the words they do not form.
The script may seem a little chaotic with events cropping up suddenly and with impulsive bursts of joy and gloom intertwining but isn’t life hectic itself? “Chaplin” captures reality with all its darkness and confusion and yet manages to articulate a tale of human prowess overshadowing all of life’s obstacles with definite clarity.
“Chaplin” also manages to pay homage to its namesake in a inimitable way by showing how a man turned down by society and facing poverty still manages to shine gloriously by gifting laughs to the very people that shunned him. In more ways than one this story of Banshi Das remains true to its ancient roots and eloquently displays the sadness that had once plagued the monumental actor in his lifetime.
Albeit the circumstances were different and the reasons for grief were not same but still somewhere down the line this “Bengali Chaplin” imitates Charlie Chaplin in more ways than one.
The movie also manages to tackle the much ignored niceties of a great father and son relationship. As was touted “Chaplin” does effectively show how a dad can also be a son’s brilliant friend and not just the ruthless administrator of the family.
There is just one single flaw that this story has and that’s the ending. Perhaps due to haste or in a bid to capture the continuity of life’s existence this story fails to offer proper closure to the events and remains closer to Rabindranath Tagore’s words describing a never ending tale.
But that is true for short stories and not a drama film and so the ending falls short of expectations and leaves an unquenched thirst with a bad taste in one’s mouth.
So apart from the need for a more elaborate ending the story is a true masterpiece and one of the killer elements of the movie.
The direction and technique- 4.5/5
With a story like that of “Chaplin” it is generally a potential gold mine, provided one has the right tools to excavate that gold and debutante director Anindo Chatterjee passes that test with flying colours.
He shovels deep and hard to bring out all the shades that the characters had to portray.
The cinematography might not affect you with all the acting brilliance but let me assure you that this silent camera hovers and fixes itself at all the right angles to get the job done.
The opening scene itself is a marvel that immediately grasps your attention and from that moment you are drawn deeper and deeper into its worlds.
It is said that great authors can illustrate with words and in “Chaplin” Anindo manages to do the alternative with the camera, he succeeds brilliantly in portraying words through silent pictures something that was the forte of Chaplin himself.
He creates the world of Banshi and subtly and slowly enmeshes us in the web of Banshi’s thoughts. So we cry and laugh with Banshi. We feel sad when Banshi feels sad even though the actual scene portrays quite the contrary.
We laugh with Banshi and Nimua as they eat bread with water while pretending to ingest delicacies and yet can’t stop ourselves from being touched by the pathos that stays hidden in their hearts.
Kudos to the director for that but still there was a single flaw that has marred the otherwise brilliant effort- the pace of the film which slows down quite a bit at parts and the movie tends to be a drag.
At least twenty minutes of the lengthy film could have been left out without any giant side effect, which does tend to make the film a tad boring.
Having said that, apart from the want of a tighter editing, the movie encapsulates our attention quite effectively and does manage to strike home the messages it wanted to give and the story it wanted to tell.
The acting – 5/5
Perhaps Rudraneel Ghosh playing Chaplin is an idea powerful enough to tilt heads and cause stir in our minds but viewers beware, don’t underestimate anyone, especially Soham.
Soham is a revelation and this small boy who reads in standard six has created an indelible impression through Nimua. He has delivered an honest stunner with a simplicity that only a child can display.
Soham hold his own in front of the tower that is Rudraneel and accomplishes what very few can achieve even at a much matured age- he is never overshadowed by Rudraneel and he actually manages to compliment Rudraneel on several occasions throughout the movie.
To speak about Rudraneel’s performance as Banshi is equivalent to showering praises upon him.
He was treading a very thin line when he took up the challenge of depicting Chaplin as seen through the eyes of an uneducated man and yet he does so with all the human imperfections that a real Banshi Das can have. He mesmerizes with a performance that is undoubtedly his best and far surpasses the contemporary bests of his time.
Seeing him don that legendary hat and stick of the world famous “tramp Chaplin” you feel amazed and when he moves you feel unnerved but when he winks with that oh so familiar teasing lopsided grin you are blown away.
Rudraneel makes you wonder- is there anyone else at all who could have done what he did? But just then you smile and realise that in most probabilities the answer to that rhetorical question is no.
And yet there is much much more. Banshi as a father is even more brilliant and so is the unsettling simplicity of that man, all of which Rudra shows with a unchallenged fervour.
At some exceptional moments he mirrors the brilliance of Will Smith in his legendary performance for “The Pursuit of Happyness” and sheds tears that are so original that it is impossible to detect the absence of actual conviction.
Everyone else including Mir, Srijit and newcomer Rachita excels at their job and adds to the mix all that is expected of the characters that they represent on screen.
Funny man Mir does an excellent job of portraying the serious Zafar which is absolutely a contrast to all his other stints and Rachita brings freshness to the movie while Srijit plays the role of a cool dude with definitive emotional control.
Each of the actors displays a fine control and cautiously manage to prevent an overkill with emotional attyachar. They accomplish the much needed task of showing more through their eyes than what their words can tell and truly add the required flavours to this exceptional venture.
The music- 4.5/5
The music is also the icing on the cake for “Chaplin”. The duo of music director Indradeep and lyricist Srijato has manufactured tracks that keep us enamoured and yet never deflects the attention from the movie.
Kaushiki’s astounding vocal performance is highlighted by the number “Patto ka hei jism” that is sure to touch the hearts and ears of everyone.
The background music too creates an unbelievable synchronicity with the screen events and blends perfectly adding that extra dash of spice to the already delicious offering.
The music deserves as much accolades as the movie itself, though I would have liked to feast a little more on the mellifluous treat of the songs that have not been played completely in the movie.
So what’s the verdict?
The verdict is loud and clear.
“Chaplin” is must watch for movie lovers in spite of the less than brilliant editing.
This movie has enough to offer both in terms of audio and visual performance and has enough of a punch to knock out everyone.
Still if you want to have a money’s worth evening for you and your family then theatres playing “Chaplin” is the place to be.