MAHANAGARI (2010) Bengali Movie Review: Firdaus, Rimjhim Gupta

Firdaus and Rimjhim Gupta
Firdaus and Rimjhim Gupta

August 1, 2010, KOLKATA (Calcutta Tube): MAHANAGARI is a 2010 Bengali Film directed by Kanoj Das starring Firdaus, Rimjhim Gupta, Sangeeta Sanyal, Rajatabha Dutta, Manoj Mitra and others. Enjoy the complete Bengali Movie review for MAHANAGARI at Calcutta Tube.

Cast and Crew:

  • Story and direction: Kanoj Das
  • Screenplay and dialogue: Shankar Dasgupta
  • Lyrics and music: Subhash Chandra Bose
  • Cinematography: Samik Talukdar and Sudipta Sengupta
  • Playback: Kumar Sanu, Nachiketa, Shubhomita, Anwesha and Arindam Ganguly
  • Cast: Firdaus, Rimjhim Gupta, Sangeeta Sanyal, Rajatabha Dutta, Manoj Mitra, Paran Bandopadhyay, Biwajit Chakraborty, Sunil Mukherjee, Koushik Banrjee, Anamika Saha, Debika Mitra, Sreela Majumdar and others
  • Rating: 5/10

MAHANAGARI Bengali Movie Review – GOOD STORY, WEAK NARRATION

Rajatabha Dutta and Sangeeta Sanyal
Rajatabha Dutta and Sangeeta Sanyal

Kanoj Das has established himself as a director who chooses original themes and out-of-the-box stories that are not carbon copies of old Bengali films or cut-and-paste jobs on South Indian hits few Bengalis know about. His earlier films, namely Chabiwalla, Rangamati and Thikana Rajpath paved the way for his fourth film Mahanagari. The originality of this film lies in its tackling of a rarely-discussed issue in films – ghost writing for an already famous writer.

Famous Bengali littérateur Ranjan Mukherjee (Rajatabha Dutta) has won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his famous novel Mahanagari. The story is unfolded in flashback from his point of view when people from the media crowd around him to ask him what inspired the story of the prize-winning novel. Is it based on fact? Or is it pure fiction? It is about the dream of a young man, Nabin (Firdaus) who lived in a Bengal village to become a writer of note. He is in love with Chitralekha (Sangeeta Sanyal), who promises him that one day, when she becomes wealthy, she will publish his novel. She runs away to seek a future in films and gets trapped in a prostitution racket ultimately becoming the keep of the writer Ranjan Mukherjee. Nabin comes to Kolkata to seek a willing publisher (Manoj Mitra) who demands a hefty sum to get Nabin’s manuscript published. A shocked Nabin meets Ranjan Mukherjee who is suffering from a writer’s block. He offers Nabin money to write novels on order that will be published in Ranjan’s name. A desperate, frustrated and thoroughly disillusioned Nabin accepts the proposal because he is financially in dire straits. He becomes a ghost writer for Ranjan Mukherjee. Chitralekha’s father (Biswajit Chakraborty) dies while performing the ghata shraddha of the daughter who defaced him socially. Swatilekha (Rimjhim Gupta), her younger sister, promises to wait for Nabin till he meets with success. Does he?

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Sreela Majumdar and group
Sreela Majumdar and group

The story has a strikingly original angle that gets diluted over the footage due to needless sub-plots such as Chitralekha dying of HIV-AIDS, Nabin turning crazy following her death, the issue of gullible young girls getting trafficked into the sex world. Manoj Mitra gives a sparkling performance in a cameo as the publisher who brazenly asks for money up front followed by Rajatava Dutta’s significant performance in the first half. Sreela Majumdar as a senior sex worker does not quite fit into the scheme in terms of the script. She enacts a baijee which is obsolete in Kolkata. More glaring is the way she sings while sitting on a bed as her instrumentalists are seated on the floor. This is just not done. Firdaus as Nabin is also a misfit because his weight and his smooth skin and his body language do not lend themselves to the lifestyle of an impoverished author who lives off tuitions in a small village. Sangeeta Sanyal tries to do her best as Chitralekha but she does not have screen presence at all. Rimjhim Gupta as Swatilekha is okay. The script loses track of her after she comes with her widowed mother to Kolkata.

Das closes the film on a defeatist note of disillusionment which might not go down well with the audience. Why Chitralekha does not try to come out of Ranjan Mukherjee’s trap when he is so good to her remains a mystery.  Subhash Chandra Bose’s musical score is average while the cinematography could have fared much better given the pastoral backdrop of the village scenario in the beginning. The footage could have been clipped at least by 30 minutes by taking away the sentimental melodrama surrounding Chitralekha’s being unwittingly trapped in the prostitution racket. It is indeed sad that a promising film turns awry because of a wobbly and rambling script. Thikana Rajpath was a better bet any day.

Shoma A. Chatterji

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