TARA (2010) Bengali Film Review: PROSENIT-PAOLI DAM

Prosenjit in Bengali Film TATA
Prosenjit in Bengali Film TATA

November 13, 2010, Kolkata (Calcutta Tube): TARA is a 2010 Bengali Film directed by Dratya Basu starring Prosenjit, Tota Roy Choudhury, Parthosarathai Deb, Paoli Dam and others. Read the complete review of Bangla Movie TARA at Calcutta Tube.

Cast and Crew:

  • Producer: Badal Kumar Ghosh
  • Presented by: Mala Creation
  • Story, Screenplay, Lyrics and Direction: Bratya Basu
  • D.O.P.: Adinath Das
  • Music: Tapan Sinha
  • Art Direction: Samir Aich
  • Editing: Atish De Sarkar
  • Cast: Prosenjit, Tota Roy Choudhury, Parthosarathai Deb, Chandan Sen, Paoli Dam, Bratya Basu, Gautam Haldar, Debashish Biswas
  • Playback: Rupam Islam, Rupankar, Srikanta Acharya, Sumona and Ustad Rashid Khan
  • Date of release: November 5 2010
  • Rating: 05/10

Review: TARA – CONFUSING JIGSAW PUZZLE

Tara is based on a story set against contemporary political disturbances in Lalgarh where the Maoists are currently reigning supreme. The central focus is said to be a sort of love triangle involving the Maoist leader Indra Bose (Prosenjit), Madhuja (Paoli Dam), the girl-next-door he fell in love with but could never forget and Jehangir Khan (Tota Roychoudhury), an honest police officer who steps into Madhuja’s life when she is alone and in a critical situation.

On the surface, the story sounds straightforward and cliche. Once you scratch the surface, your mind is dogged by questions that actually form the crux of the film but do not offer answers, real, fictional or fantasy based. Indra is a painter who does not give up painting portraits of Madhuja even in the jungle when the walls of his hide-out are practically plastered with portraits he has painted of her. From the quality of the paintings, it is not difficult to discover why he did not pursue it as a vocation. But why or how this soft-hearted, romantic painter decided to become a Maoist rebel one never gets to know, underscoring that there are some mysteries in cinema that are best left unanswered.

Madhuja, who lives with her widowed father, a professor in a local college, is shocked when one night, the police come knocking to arrest him on charges of having secret ties with the Maoists. He is subjected to regular torture in jail, mainly by an ugly policeman who is forever hogging eatables from chunky chicken bits to a corn-on-the-cob to a banana. Members of an undefined political party pounce on Madhuja to force her to sign a paper admitting to her father’s Maoist links. They increase this pressure when they somehow discover that the Maoist leader loved her once. They do not know that she did not even know about Indra much less about his fascination for her that continues to haunt him and cut into his concentration levels in his Maoist mission.

The other layer explores corruption in all quarters of the august body-politic, pointing out to the ruling party and to the police from top to bottom. In this scenario, the police find Jehangir Khan (Tota Roy Choudhury), an honest and responsible IPS officer, a pain in the neck so he is promptly dispatched to a ‘waiting’ demotion and then suspended. He rescues Madhuja first from persistent harassment by political goons who do everything but molest and rape her and then from being abducted by the Andhra Pradesh faction of the Maoist rebels headed by Ramkrishna Naidu (Bratya Basu). Naidu seems to boss over Indra but why or how one does not know as the equation between the two, as individuals and as representatives of their regional factions, remains unexplained.

Madhuja and Indra’s character remain paper-thin. Jehangir Khan’s character is given some history and tons of sex appeal and therefore, finds greater cheer among the audience than the other two. Jehangir’s action scenes convince with their professional execution. Madhuja remains a decorative piece. She wears very expensive ethnic saris right through. Her appearance and body language hardly carry the impact of a lonely woman pushed against the wall and terrorized by anti-socials. Madhujai falls in love with Jehangir before you can say “Jack Robinson.” Prosenjit does not seem to be involved in the character or the story. Piya Sengupta as Prosenjit’s commando older sister is better though her weight belies the tough conditions they live in. Tota’s performance is outshined only by Bratya Basu’s restrained fleshing out of Naidu. Gautam Haldar with his irritatiing hamming and the mama-mia tagline, outdated in the US, is so overdone that you breathe a sigh of relief when Indra pulls the trigger on him. Chandan Sen is wasted in an ill-written role.

Adinath Das’s cinematography is mind-blowing and so is Sameer Aich’s art direction. Aich pleasantly surprises us with a brief cameo. Tapan Sinha’s music and songs, confined to the soundtrack, is impressive in places specially the Rashid Khan raag-pradhaan number. Basu fails to establish which side he is on – the opposition, the Maoist factions in Lalgadh, the lovers or the rebellious Devdas who lost his love. We remain in the dark about the Maoists’ agenda whose local leader is busier painting portraits of his lady love than devoted to a serious mission. Probably, Basu is not sure himself. His confusion rubs off onto his audience. Tara had a lot of promise and potential. But lack of focus played villain in the story.

Shoma A. Chatterji

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