July 28, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Icche is a 2011 Bengali film presented by Rituparna Sengupta, directed by Nandita Roy and Shibaprasad Mukherjee with Bratya Basu, Sohini Sengupta, Samadarshi Dutta and others in the cast. Read the Bengali movie review at Calcutta Tube.
ICCHE – A DANGEROUS DESIRE
Producer: Jignesh Films
Presenter: Rituparna Sengupta
Directed by: Nandita Roy and Shibaprasad Mukherjee
Screenplay and dialogue: Nandita Roy and Shibaprasad Banerjee
D.O.P.: Soumik Haldar
Editing: Moloy Laha
Music, Background Score and Lyrics: Surojit Chatterjee (Bhoomi)
Sound: V.N. Kishore, Biswajit Sengupta and Tito
Art Direction: Tanmoy Chakraborty
Cast: Bratya Basu, Sohini Sengupta, Samadarshi Dutta, Bidita Bag and Ruplekha Mitra
Date of Release: July 15, 2011
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[ReviewAZON asin="B0057XXJKI" display="inlinepost"]Icche should have been long ago. The film is based on a story Iccher Gaach by Suchitra Bhattacharya that closes on an open ending. But the film takes the story one step further to have a definite but tragic closure.
Mamata (Sohini Sengupta)’s name is a misnomer as her over-protection of her only son Soumik (Samadarshi Dutta) shows from the first frame of the film. Her existence revolves around the son whose life is tailored, designed, censored and controlled by Mamata. She pays little or no attention to her good-natured and tolerant husband Manas (Bratya Basu) because in her eyes, he is a non-achiever. Her dreams, aspirations, ambitions are focused on Soumik. Manas keeps telling her that she is actually trying to live out her dreams vicariously through her son, because they are not his dreams or ambitions. But Mamata is adamant, rigid and determined to send off her son to Oxford, Harvard, everywhere. We watch helplessly as Mamata feeds him a banana on his way to school because he had to memorise his Bangla before leaving. He grows up being beaten up for playing football till he is forced to submit. He becomes the butt of jokes of his coaching class friends because his mother calls up frequently to monitor his movements. But he is a brilliant and obedient boy and does not rebel.
Sohini Sengupta fills the character of Mamata with the multi-layered performance it deserves and some more. It is a character we have perhaps never encountered on the Indian screen. The portrayal spills over with fine nuances of emotions, feelings, expressions – oral, verbal, visual, emotional that convey the messages with and without dialogue. When she visits her mother in the village after a tiff with Soumik and the son suddenly arrives to call out to her, she hides behind the door and smiles shyly, a gesture only a woman in love will make, not a mother.
He discovers a childish, fresh romance in his coaching class friend Debjani (Rooplekha). Hell breaks out when his mother, while rifling through his cupboard, his books, his clothes, chances upon a red file filled with love letters penned in red ink, love cards and the like the two have exchanged. Failing to frighten her son to break the relationship, she embarks on cruel strategies to break off the affair. She invites his coaching class friends over to high tea asking them not to inform Soumik about it. She reads out the letters to them. She barges into Debjani’s home and warns her mother that if she did not stop her daughter from meeting her son, she will Xerox the love letters and distribute it in their neighborhood. Back home, she pulls out her long forgotten harmonium and begins to play. In one powerful stroke, the film establishes that Mamata’s is a case of borderline personality disorder where her love for her son crosses the normal lines of a mother-son relationship. Soumik tells her, “You have won Maa, and I have lost. I will do whatever you tell me to do. But please do not invade my private space.”
Samadarshi as Soumik is brilliant in the way he can hold in his emotions, his anger, that finally come out in an expression of pain in being forced to part ways with his mother and the dreams she cherished for him through her life. He hugs his mother and whispers that he has married Jayati into her ear. He sticks a roll of paper in her numbed hand and says it is a Xerox copy of his marriage certificate. He tells her that the certificates, the cups she holds close are lies. “I am real mother, look here,” he says and pulls her hands to touch his face, his cheeks as the mother turns speechless and numb with shock. This is Samadarshi’s debut film and it is a brilliant debut performance. But the scene where he is shown in his black underpants desperately cries out the need for him to pull up his muscles and go gymming. Bratya Basu is cast against his villainous grain as the loving but helpless father and he once again proves what a wonderful actor he is. There is a touching scene where he botches up while trying to fry eggs for his son’s breakfast. Mithu Chakraborty is wonderful in a brief cameo. Rooplekha is very good as the hesitant, shy, nervous and scared Debjani while Bidita Bag as Jayati is very loud and too much in the face as Jayati in the beginning but tempers her performance later on. The two kissing scenes are beautifully shot, the second one conveying the helplessness and insecurity of Samadarshi and the supporting stance Jayati gives him. It is a kiss that has little to do with physical desire and more to do with hidden fears and scary emotions.
Mamata scoffs at her husband’s promotion, but is unaware that the relationship between the mother and son is now on war footing. She opens an old trunk to go back to Soumik’s boyhood. She smells his clothes, caresses a cup he won, touches a certificate before going to sleep. Soumik finds Jayati (Bidita Bag) a new girlfriend at the university. He ditches his joint entrance exams and shifts from his honours course to pass course informing his mother only afterwards. Bidita is aggressive, bold and a bit loud but she is also gregarious and warm. Mamata changes her strategy when she learns about this new love. She makes friends with Debjani’s very surprised and puzzled family with the aim of breaking her son’s new relationship and bringing Debjani back. Soumik is now openly rebellious. He slams the door of his bedroom on his mother’s face when she catches him kissing Jayati. He whispers kisses into the phone when Jayati calls within his mother’s hearing and finally, goes through a clandestine registered marriage with Jayati on his birthday when Mamata has invited Debjani’s family to tea!
The sound is too loud and shrill especially in the beginning of the film that seems a bit jarring for the very serious issue the film tackles. Though the songs and lyrics are composed very imaginatively by Surajit Chatterjee the lead singer of Bhoomi, all but two of them are terribly misplaced. The only song that really jells is the one sung by the female Bangladeshi band singer at a family get-together. The other is filled with Soumik’s memories of his mother playing cricket with him, singing songs to him. The editing is smooth but what takes one’s breath away is Soumik Halder’s cinematography without which some of the ‘desires’ of the film’s directors would have remained unfulfilled.
Icche is purely a character-centric film. Many sons across the world and their mothers will identify with Icche. It rings a warning bell for young mothers who suffocate their sons with love, possession and compulsion and an opportunity for retrospection and repentance for mothers whose sons have grown up and gone their own ways unless their mothers have destroyed their lives completely.
-Shoma A. Chatterji
ICCHE – A DANGEROUS DESIRE