PAGLU – MUCH SOUND AND LITTLE FURY
Banner: Shree Venkatesh Films Pvt. Ltd.
Producer: Nispal Singh
Directed By – Rajib Kumar Biswas
Music: Jeet Ganguly
Lyrics : Priyo Chatterjee
Written By – N.K. Salil
Editor: Rabi Ranjan Moitra
Choreographer: Baba Yadav
Action: Judo Ramu
Cast: Dev, Koel, Rajatava Dutta, Tulika Mukherjee, and others
Date of release: June 3, 2011
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[ReviewAZON asin=”B003Y3X08O” display=”inlinepost”]The term ‘masala’ was defined as a ‘formula of variety entertainment, charming stars, songs, dances, fights…..spectacle, lavish sets and big locations, melodrama, humour” by B. Bahadur in 1995. Rajib Kumar’s Paglu starring the charismatic boy-wonder Dev pitted against a delightfully different Rajatava Dutta, his would-be father-in-law fits into this description very well. The two challenge each other over the prized ‘trophy’ Rimi, the former’s lady-love and the latter’s beloved daughter. No one raises an eyebrow over the repeated reference to Rimi as ‘trophy’ by her boyfriend which tells you what to expect from the film from the point the hero and heroine fall for each other.
Paglu is a ‘global’ film. Rimi (Koel Mullick) is the daughter of Gunadhar Sen (Rajatava Dutta) who is Senator in the US Government. (The fact that an Indian can become a senator in the US government is a strikingly original invention!) Dev (Dev) is an very poor orphan who lives in a slum-kind of home in a narrow bylane of Kolkata. The film dwells for a long time over the inter-gang rivalry between the lowly Dev’s group and the affluent, arrogant and violent Ronny’s group. When Rimi arrives from US to finish a thesis, the two gangs get into a fight over this girl and of course, Rimi falls in love with Dev to incur the wrath of Ronny whose ego is badly bruised.
The real drama begins much later when Gunadhar, suspecting his daughter’s links with a lowly Bangali, arrives in Kolkata and takes her back with him under false pretences. But the intelligent Dev smells a rat and tosses a rupee two coin in the air caught by Gunadhar as a challenge. The first half is a drag that the director has tried to pep up with song-dance numbers shot in foreign locations and in the US and lots of action scenes peppered with N.K. Salil’s dialogue. The song Paglu, thoda saa karle romance is a foot-tapping number executed with zest and vigour by the lead pair. Though the main drama is focussed on Dev and Gunadhar, Rimi’s character is given some flesh through her interactions with her father who holds her captive in the US in a room with windows big enough for her to jump out. She does not because who then will Dev rescue? There is a bit of plagiarisation from the Ghulam race with a speeding train and in the climax, from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where Dev pulls a Shahrukh Khan by refusing to take Rimi to India knowing she will join him with the blessings of her father. This is an Indianised Mills & Boons story that takes every liberty possible to bring out the most incredible ways of love. Dev, who should not know to drive a car, merrily drives around on US roads in a white convertible. You should not ask stupid questions like where he got the car from or how he knows the traffic rules in a country he has never visited before. He also organizes a sit-down group with members holding a white flag with a big red heart in the centre to hold the US Consul and persuade him to grant him a US visa in the name of love and Eureka, it actually happens! Is it not taking incredibility a bit too far? Why does Gunadhar handle a bunch of all-Black goons who Dev reduces to a pulp before you can say Mohammed Ali?
Dev captures our hearts with his screen charisma that does not challenge him too much with acting skills. Koel looks lovely but her addressing her father as “Mr. Senator” is a bit too much. Rajatava is wonderful in a different role and Rajib’s triumph lies in propping up the villainy with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour. The art direction to establish Dev’s roots and backdrop is very good and so is the choreography. Jeet Ganguly’s title track will soon make it to the ring tones and caller tunes of all youngsters in Kolkata. Dev is adorable, lovable and youngsters can identify with him because he looks like the grassroots man he usually plays. Paglu will score high in the box office takings but not in the critics ratings because it is not a very consistently handled film that takes ‘willful suspension of disbelief’ a bit too far.
– Shoma A. Chatterji