December 5, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): NATOBAR NOT OUT is a 2010 Bengali Comedy film directed by Amit Sen starring Raima Sen, Mustafa Prakash, Ananya Dutta, Ramaprasad Banik, Biswajit Chakraborty, Mousumi Saha and others. Databazaar Media Ventures has acquired the distribution right of the Bengali Movie in the USA and the the wonderful film is already available for online watch from Dingora.Com.
Cast and Crew:
- Banner: Bunch of Buddies
- Director: Amit Sen
- Story, script and lyrics: Kamaleshwar Mukherjee
- Music: Debajyoti Misra
- Art direction: Mridul Baidya
- Editing and Sound Design: Sumit Ghosh
- Cast: Raima Sen, Mustafa Prakash, Ananya Dutta, Ramaprasad Banik, Biswajit Chakraborty, Mousumi Saha, Sudeepa Bose, Kharaj Mukherjee, Chandan Sen, Kaushik Ganguly, Kamalika Banerjee
- Special Appearance: Jeet, Moonmoon Sen, Mir, Biplab Chatterjee and Saswata Chatterjee
- Date of release: November 12, 2010
- Rating: 7/10
Natobar (Mustafa Prakash) does not want to join his father’s lathe business on the ground floor of their house in the northern parts of Kolkata, more tradition bound, more distanced from the cultural infiltration of the West than the nouveau rich South. His father Braja (Ramaprasad Banik) wrings his hands in despair because Natobar cannot write one line that can really be defined as poetry. But Natobar is determined to make it big. Mishtu (Raima Sen), his pretty girlfriend next door he throws arrows of his poetry at, has faith in him.
His bedroom walls are plastered with Black-and-White portraits of all renowned poets of Bengali literature from Kabi Nazrul Islam to Jibananda Das to Subhash Mukhopadhyay. But nothing happens to his talent for poetry which remains as laughable as it was. One day, Natobar walks back home with a huge portrait of Tagore replacing the older one and hanging this big one instead. The next morning, Natobar, with blessings from Tagore, none else. He fills two red-covered books with 200 poems dedicated to his lady love. But all publishers show him the door saying that poetry does not sell. Natobar lands a job as Bengali copywriter in an ad agency with the help of a friend who has made it big in the business of intellectual property rights! Natobar’s world changes miraculously. He looks in wonder at a world he never knew before about accounts and visualizations and disco hopping and parties and ramp shows and Ujaala (Ananya Dutta) the glamorous and sexy accounts head to takes a liking to Natobar. Though he helps sponsor the fancy dress show with the help of his ad agency’s prized client, he begins to look down on his old friends and his girlfriend too. But the miracle is short-lived and like Cinderella, one fine day, Natobar dashes down to good old earth and to his father’s lathe machine. Mishtu guides him in accepting his destiny and everything is all right in Natobar’s world.
The neighbourhood is typically the Kolkata of the Sixties and Seventies, with a weekly adda of would-be poets gathered to read out their poems, a local boys’ club that organizes everything from blood donation camps to fancy dress contests to football matches, and a girl’s hostel with its single superintendent who has an eye for a slightly older bachelor among the boys of the club. The para stereotypes are sharply drawn though some appear to have been stretched a bit too far for the comedy to rub off the right way on the audience. Balai (Kharaj Mukherjee) for example, is the neighbourhood drunk who grabs the mike for every para function and keeps yakking off his head. Chandan Sen’s football coach with a vocabulary dotted with football terms does not jell after a point of time. Mishtu’s father forever donned in hunting hat gear poised to go to a hunting expedition any time really fails to convince. Tribhuvan (Koushik Ganguly) who heads Mukhosh, the ad agency, is naturally cranky like many ad head honchos. The scene where Natobar is rude to him turns into soppy and tearful melodrama bringing down the lovely comedy the film is otherwise filled with. The guest appearances however, are very impressive beginning with comedy king Meer taking everyone by surprise as the one who paints in the graphics – one of the most interesting bit of credit title visualization one has seen in a long time. Saswata Chatterjee as the sissy man with his arms forever wrapped around his secretary’s buxom figure does a brilliant cameo and Moonmoon Sen’s surprise item number in a sari at Venom is wonderful shot in strobe lights capturing the many faces of a changing city very well indeed. Biplab Chatterjee as the publisher who speaks only in rhyme and asks Natobar to ghost-sell his poetry is wonderful.
The characters that sustain both curiosity and interest are Natobar, Mishtu, Braja, his live-in partner Tuni and Ujaaala, the accounts head in Mukhosh. The first prize for acting goes to Mustafa Prakash who wins everyone’s hearts with his naïve freshness and his spontaneous performance, an innocence that does not change even with the plastic money business and all that come along with it. It is a wonderful and very credible debut performance. Raima Sen as Mishtu lives up to the name of her character – sweet and pretty like the creamy top of a well-baked cake. Ananya Dutta’s sex appeal is too much in the face but her performance is natural and spontaneous. Ramaprasad Banik as Braja and Mousumi Saha as his opium-fond live-in-partner are also very good. The group that forms the poetry circle is subtly conceived and presented and is yet quite funny.
The dream scene where she and Natobar dance to the tunes of megher palok chaander nolok fused with the Tagore number mamo chitte nritte is one of the most aesthetically cinematographed and creatively choreographed dance numbers in recent Bengali cinema. The complete whiteness of the screen and the costumes of the dancers are given relief with the ornamental make-up of the chorus girls with one side of their faces painted in alpana designs. The white is diaphanous, investing the sequence with an air of the ethereal and the fantasy-driven at the same time. Mridul Vaidya’s art direction is realistic, capturing for posterity the many faces of a metro city and of the people who live, love, hate and work within it.
Natobar Not Out is soaked in the nostalgia for a Bengali culture that is fast losing out to globalization and modernization symbolised concretely with shopping malls and multiplexes and skyscrapers and fast lifestyles. It is actually a tribute to a decaying Bengali culture in general and Rabindranath Tagore in particular. There are frequent references to old Bengali films like Kabuliwallah, Bikele Bhorer Phool, Khokababur Pratyabartan, Charulata and so on. The scene where Mishtu dressed up as Charulata for the fancy dress contest, her eyes searching for Natobar who has forgotten all about the contest is very touching. The problem with the film is its overlong footage that spans a running time of 150 minutes, especially because the beginning drags and drags generating nothing but boredom. The interaction between Natobar and Tagore is not only unique and original, it is also a bright example of comedy laced with intelligence and information. Debajyoti Misra’s musical score blends magically with Kamaleshwar Mukherjee’s lyrics lifting the film to a different plane altogether. There are no villains in the film, no violence, overt or covert and no sleazy scenes. Mukherjee’sx story is as magical as the magic realism he has filled it with.
In sum, Natobar Not Out is entertainment that is wholesome, dynamic, intelligent and wonderful fun, barring the time-span and the characterization of the supporting stereotypes. Amidst a flood of tributes to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore on his 150th birth anniversary, Natobar Not Out touches a deep chore with its magic realism approach to Rabindranath Tagore, to his creative genius and to ordinary young men like Natobar who dreams of becoming famous one day like his favourite bard. The treatment is through comedy, an emotion one does not get to see everyday within Bengali cinema, mainstream or off-mainstream. Above everything else, it is Bengali in soul, spirit, presentation, approach and treatment. Thank you Amit Sen and Tagore!
Shoma A. Chatterji