Houseful (2009) Bengali Film Review-Preview-Cast-Ratings
Houseful is a 2009 Bengali film starring Prosenjit, Shreelekha Mitra, Rachna Shah, Ushasi, Rimjhum Gupta and Rita Dutta Bandopadhyay in lead roles. Bappaditya Bandopadhyay has directed the film where Prosenjit is playing the role of a film director.
Review: HOUSEFUL – AN INTROSPECTIVE JOURNEY INTO CREATIVITY AND FAILURE
by: Shoma A. Chatterji
- Banner: Algos Entertainment
- Screenplay and Direction: Bappaditya Bandopadhyay
- Cinematography: Rana Dasgupta
- Music: Kaya and Abhijit Basu
- Editing: Deepak Mandal
- Cast: Prosenjit, Nitya Ganguly, Rwita Dutta Chakraborty, Ushashi Chakraborty, Rimjhim Gupta, Anindya Banerjee and others
- Rating: 3.5/5
- Playback Singers: Band Kaya, Subhomita, Raghab Chatterjee, Jojo
- CAMERAMAN – RANA DASGUPTA
- ART DIRECTOR – GAUTAM BOSE
- PRODUCTION MANAGER – ALOK MITRA
- EDITOR – UTTAM ROY
- Movie Webpage: http://www.enjoyhouseful.com
Like Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome and Satyajit Ray’s Nayak, Houseful concentrates on following the single character Nikhil with his idiosyncratic ideas about filmmaking. He is notorious for directing films that are disasters at the box office. He wants a hit but at the same time, refuses to bend under commercial pressures. The opening frame shows a newscast reporting bomb blasts in the city against visuals of blood-splattered streets, bodies on stretchers being pulled away followed by the weather report voiced in staccato tones by an expressionless news anchor who only reads weather reports. The camera pulls back to show Nikhil seated in a near-empty, darkened cinema hall watching his own film. The camera cuts between Nikhil’s movements and scenes from this film, showing how the weather reporting newscaster (within the film) is thrown behind bars for her links with the bomb blasts in the city because the cell phone used to make the bomb connection was hers.
Not moved by his failed marriage and threats from borrowers for cheques that bounce, Nikhil is troubled when he finds that the film he has made as well as the film he has conceived and is yet to make is replicated in real life. As he gropes with his new production, the same incidents he showed in his last film find expression in real life, landing his new heroine behind bars for bomb blasts that rock the city. This film flops too. But when he goes to meet his heroine, Nandita/Sujata (Rimjhim Gupta) in jail, he tells her it is a box office hit and that she is now a star. Nandita smiles sadly, and sure of a life sentence, walks back to lie in her solitary cell, coiled up in a foetal position, lonely and distanced from the world she once belonged to.
The one quality that distinguishes Bappaditya Bandopadhyay’s Houseful from other films that concern themselves with cinema-within-cinema is that it has strong autobiographical elements. Prosenjit’s look is fashioned after Bappaditya who wears a beard. Each time Nikhil’s mobile rings, it is Bappaditya’s cell-phone ring tone that belts out Gautam Chatterjee’s famous Mohimer Ghodaguli number. Bappaditya is known for giving breaks to new girls in his films. Nikhil does the same, sometimes by force of circumstance because top heroines openly give him the cold shoulder, shrugging him off with sarcastic barbs. Yet, it does not bracket itself with films like Guru Dutt’s Kaagaz Ke Phool.
The storyline is straight and simple. The treatment is not. Nikhil Banerjee (Prosenjit) is a filmmaker whose films are commercial flops. But he seems content watching his own films in an empty cinema hall with its owner threatening to pull off the film after a day or two. His wife leaves him in disgust with daughter in tow. He appears to be disturbed but does not try to mend fences. The only company he keeps is his hapless distributor (Nitya Ganguly) who desperately tries to make him see sense by bringing in DVDs and CDs of South Indian box office hits and persuading him to copy them frame by frame to get a hit.
Bappaditya is generous with surrealistic characters and incidents that flit in and out of both the narrative and the cinematographic space of the film. One is the nightclub crooner who is real for Nikhil but surreal when she appears as a character in his would-be film. The other is the young man distributing handbills dressed like a circus joker. The production design spills over with posters of old Bengali films where Nikhil’s favourite is one large poster of Ritwik Ghatak’s Jukti, Takko Aar Goppo, perhaps in keeping with the spirit of Houseful. When Nikhil joins the fingers and thumb of both hands to frame his wife as she walks away from the flat with daughter in tow, she turns around and angrily tells him that she has seen Kieslowski’s Camera Buff! The projection man is fast asleep as Nikhil’s film is screened to an empty theatre. The loyal distributor patiently explains the nuances of how to plagiarize from a South Indian film to make a Bengali box office hit. Nandita tells Nikhil point-blank that one can go only so far if one sleeps with the producer and director. The huge four-poster bed placed squarely in the middle of a green field is another example of the absurd in cinema. Somewhere along the way, one loses track of where the actual narrative ends and the illusory ones begin because they merge and fuse. In the end, we find Nikhil watching his last film on a large screen against the backdrop of the sea with his distributor friend still trying to talk him into taking on a South Indian hit.
Rana Dasgupta’s cinematography captures the dark, sinister shades of the shifting moods of the film and its off-beat character while Kaya and Abhijit Basu’s music in its mind-blowing emotional element, does the rest. The director’s well-appointed apartment with its split-level entrance is a bit too much for his financial status. Prosenjit underplays Nikhil, listening, or rather, pretending to listen rather than talk, scratching a cheek absent-mindedly, failing to react to the acidic barbs thrown at him by all and sundry, delivering a performance that strips him completely of his starry halo. Even as one watches him actually directing a shot, it looks like he is not really interested in what is happening around him. He is more offbeat than his films are. The title of the film Houseful, deliberately misspelt with a single ‘l’ gives the story away. The ‘house’ for Nikhil’s films are far from ‘full.’ The pace is grindingly slow. If you are looking for logic, love item numbers and fights, you can keep away from Houseful. On the other hand, if you are looking for something different, distanced even from what goes for offbeat, please try to feel one with Nikhil who, like many of us, with the best of intentions, fails to get his message across the way he wants to. But then, Houseful just has no message to deliver.
Nikhil (Prasenjit), a struggling director of Bengali art films is in dire straits after all his film flop and the movie theaters refuse to show his films. His personal life is sin shambles and he has defaulted on several of his payments. His assistant asks him to make a commercial film on the lines of a Tamil film to revive his career. He decides against it for the time being and decides to make his own film by turning producer himself as he has managed to convince his father to mortgage their house. He receives a call from a man one day who decide to provide him with a financer, but in return he would have to take a heroine of the man’s choice. Nikhil agrees and they start shooting with the girl Sujata better known as Nandita (Rimjhim Gupta).A series of explosions take place in the city and the main accused Subhash who had provided Nikhil with the finance and he is also Sujata’s boyfriend. Sujata is also arrested in due course of time and this film also meets with the same fate like his other films .Nikhil finally decides to make a commercial film on the lines of a Tamil flick.
Houseful Bengali Movie Photogallery