TAKHAN TEISH (2011) Bengali Film Review: CHANGING TERMS OF ENDEARMENT

Takhan Teish - Indrani Haldar
Takhan Teish – Indrani Haldar

January 23, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): TAKHAN TEISH is a 2011 Bengali Film directed by filmmaker Atanu Ghosh starring Jisshu Sengupta, Paoli Dam, Aparajita Ghosh Das, Tanusree Shankar and others. Atanu Ghosh has successfully recreates the magic in his second venture into movie making. TAKHAN TEISH will soon be released in the USA distributed by Databazaar Media Ventures.

Cast and Crew:

  • Cast: Jisshu Sengupta, Paoli Dam, Aparajita Ghosh Das, Tanusree Shankar, Biswajit Chakraborty, Rajatabha Dutta, Biplab Chatterjee, Neel Mukherjee, Locket Chatterjee and Indrani Halder
  • Banner: Tara Film Productions Pvt Ltd.
  • Producer: Chhanda Guha
  • Story, screenplay and direction: Atanu Ghosh
  • Director of Photography: Soumik Haldar
  • Art director: Indranil Ghosh
  • Editor: Sujoy Dutta Roy
  • Music: Rocket Mondol and Mayookh Bhowmick
  • Costume: Suchandra Chowdhury
  • Stylist: Aniruddha Chakladar
  • Rating: 7.5/10
  • Date of release: January 21 2011

TAKHAN TEISH: CHANGING TERMS OF ENDEARMENT

Paoli Dam in Takhan 23
Paoli Dam in Takhan 23

Takhan Teish is a looking back film. But it is not narrated in flashback though clips from the past creep into the present that begins with Tamadeep’s (Jisshu Sengupta) 23rd birthday. He is a brilliant doctor, an introvert who cannot communicate with people in the real world. Yet, he has around 1000 virtual friends on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. His manner of stress-busting is to sneak into sleazy cinema halls and watch soft-porn films from the South. Mostly, he finds a clinical link with what he watches till a film starring a dusky and sexy beauty with the screen name Mohini sucks him into an obsessive mental state pushing him to watch all films that feature her. He is the only child of affluent parents who he finds little to share with except through SMSes.

Have the rapid changes in information technology and the associated flux in communication strategies changed the medium, manner and character of human interaction and relationships? Tamodeep is a classic example of this change. The film has a prologue showing a dusky and seductive Mohini rising out of a swimming pool, dripping wet, in a peek-a-boo swimming costume. Three rogues watching her rise to chase and she breaks into a run. Just when they are about to attack her probably to rape, the camera switches to the inside of a darkened theatre where Tamodeep is watching a film. He turns his eyes away when the rogues attack her. He drives past her posters on lamp-posts, fantasizes about her item numbers performed in itsy-bitsy costumes and finally calls up a counsellor on a local FM channel to confess his obsession.

Takhan Teish - Jisshu and Aparanjita
Takhan Teish – Jisshu and Aparanjita

Takhan Teish is not only about Tamadeep. It is also about the four women who are intricately linked to his life and to how these relationships change within 48 hours. Among them is his mother Sraboni (Tanusri Shankar) with whom his relationship was fractured when she cut him off completely from his biology teacher Meghna (Indrani Haldar) he depended on morally and was very close to. He unwittingly catches up with her again through a FM channel where she is the confidante. The two new women who walk into his 23rd birthday are Sriparna (Aparajita Ghosh Das), a peppy, bubbly girl he met on Facebook and Mohini (Paoli Dam) who is admitted to the private hospital Tamodeep works in because she has had an accident on her way from the airport. Why she flies back to Kolkata where she has no home to repair to remains unexplained. Mohini, like her screen name suggests, is a mystery in Tamadeep’s life he is intent to rescue but not solve. In her real persona, Shampa Dasgupta, the woman behind the screen image is a no-holds-barred woman who does not spare any man from her bitter, razor sharp tongue including Tamadeep. Is she a victim of the tragic circumstances of being brought up in an orphanage? Who is Sandipan (Rajatabha Dutta), other than the managing director he is in the public domain? He is one of Sriparna’s 15 male friends she managed to meet within the brief span of two months. But he also has some shady links to Mohini/Shampa’s past and there is a mystery to his role in her present status in life. These two characters invest the story with the quality of a psychological thriller that ends however, in a kind of anti-climax.

Jisshu Sengupta in Takhan Teish
Jisshu Sengupta in Takhan Teish

In this character-driven story, director Ghosh who has also written the story and the screenplay, has fleshed out each character to the minutest detail from costume, hairstyle, make-up, body language to speech patterns complete and varied within itself, making its strong presence felt within the film’s narrative structure and in Tamodeep’s life in the brief span of 48 hours that changes the matrix of every relationship for him and consequently, his life. Tanusri Shankar as Sraboni is dignified in her pain, trying desperately to build bridges, but withdrawing when Tamadeep silently closes the door in her face. Tanusri gives a controlled performance and sounds natural without the heavily English-accented Bangla she is known for. Indrani Haldar as Meghna believes in plain-talk, is aggressive in a quiet way, confident but lonely and this builds the invisible but lasting bond between Tamodeep and herself. The relationship between them defies any socially conditioned or institutionalized social labels. Indrani as the Biology teacher-turned-unseen-confidante over a FM channel is very good in a mature role. She is fashionably dressed in ethnic saris with jewellery to match, her hair cut close in a fashionable style, with glasses and dangling ear-rings added when the film flashes forward four years later to celebrate Tamadeep’s 27th birthday and the closing of the film.

Sriparna is a talkative, friendly and open young girl whose courage in meeting men who are complete strangers in strange circumstances only through a Facebook introduction easily makes her the most interesting character in the entire film. She dresses in hep clothes and carries a mod hairstyle. She is more than just a friend but not a lover. Aparajita Ghosh Das slips into the character as if she is born into it, peppering it with her charm, her guts, and her ready wit to survive tricky situations that threatens her personal safety. Behind the frothy exterior is a depth that endures and protects as her evolving involvement in Tamadeep’s life demonstrates. Paolii as Mohini/Shampa speaks very little and within those lines, her tongue spills over with acid angled against all men. Her silence is expressed tangibly through her eyes, with a scathing look here, a turning around on her bed there. With a wonderful performance, she clearly demarcates her screen image of the titillating item girl or heroine of soft-porn regional movies from her apparently straightforward, simple victim-playing real life persona, not interested in propping up her looks with costume or make-up.

Jisshu Sengupta pours everything he can as Tamadeep, a power-packed performance in understatement and quietude through a character who lives inside a shell but is ironically thrown in the company of the medical fraternity and the sick and ailing as part of his profession. He is desperate to open up, but can do so only in the virtual world of which all the four women are a part directly or indirectly. Rajatabha Dutta has a layered role as Sanatan who has a dark side to his character much like his one-time protégé Shampa does. When the skeletons begin to topple, Tamadeep is no part of these but they underscore the basic theory of appearances being truly deceptive. Rajatabha spells out the pain the character seethes under, veiled by a false assumption of a power he does not possess.

Soumik Haldar’s cinematography plays around with the varying landscape of the film beautifully. He explores the contradictions of light and shade – light in the outdoor sequences where Tamodeep is driving along an avenue in his new red car, or, standing with Sriparna on a jetty that projects into a river, or, the open ambience of an offbeat restaurant. The darkness takes over in the sleazy, dimly-lit theatre where Tamodeep watches soft-porn, or, in Mohini/Shampa’s hospital room, or, inside Sayantan’s private office with its secretariat table, the book-lined walls of the dark room with light filtering in through the stained glass French window, showing up Sriparna’s face in light and Sanatan’s in semi-darkness. Indranil Ghosh’s art direction works hand-in-glove with Haldar’s cinematography and so does Sujoy Dutta Roy’s editing and the lyrical background score by Rocket Mandal and Mayookh Bhowmik. The sound design – the beep of a speeding ambulance near the private hospital, the constant beep of the cell phone, the sounds of door bells ringing, street side hawkers hawking their wares, the sound of the crashing taxi and shattering glass, the stinging slap Sanatan gives an accusing Shampa, are seamlessly structured into the cinemascape.

Takhan Teish is beautifully crafted in terms of all the ingredients that have gone into its making except the slightly kinky structure. But it fails to weave a storyline strong enough for the ingredients to cook up an unforgettable dish. Sanatan’s face-off with Shampa is a bit melodramatic. Does every good man need to have a tragic back story? The ‘Happy Ending’ that marks Tamadeep’s 27th birthday where we find him trying to discover his roots in his grandfather’s forgotten house in the countryside is orchestrated like a poem. But it terms of the screenplay and in relation with the rest of the film, it appears quite forced. The third drawback of the film lies in Ghosh’s presumption that everyone in the audience is familiar with social media networks like Facebook and Twitter beyond their names. Many do not, even in urban metros. This narrows down the target audience the film is aimed at considerably.

The important message the film spells out is the precariousness of our moral and social order. In trying to build a different world within virtual reality through the cell phone with its irritating SMSes, the virtual world of Facebook and Twitter where one makes friends without ever meeting them, images of third rate stars beaming on the large screen, people tend to forget that they live in a real world and must come to terms with this reality. One is always drawn towards the edge of sanity, reality, illusion, delusion, inclusion, seclusion – self-induced, or socially imposed that is difficult to extricate oneself from after a point of time. Good work Atanu Ghosh. One only wishes you had a strong story with a stronger closure.

Shoma A. Chatterji

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *