TEEN TANAYA (2011) Bengali Film Review: REDUCING TAGORE TO MELODRAMA

Teen Tanaya Bengali Film Review
Teen Tanaya Bengali Film Review

February 6, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): TEEN TANAYA is a 2011 Bengali Film directed by Shukla Mitra starring Debottam, Sudipta Banerjee, Bhaswar Chatterjee, Soumili Biswas based on a Rabindranath Tagore story.

Cast and Crew:

  • Produced and directed by: Shukla Mitra
  • Story: Rabindranath Tagore
  • Music: Gautam Mitra
  • Cinematography: Shakti Banerjee
  • Editing: Sudip Das
  • Cast: Debottam, Sudipta Banerjee, Bhaswar Chatterjee, Soumili Biswas, Priya Pal, Saheb Chatterjee, Rupanjana Mitra
  • Date of release: January 28 2011
  • Rating: 3/10

Teen Tanaya is based on three story poems by Rabindranath Tagore. The first one is called Koni, after the original poem. The second one is called Kamala changed from the original Camelia, the name of the poem and the last is called Binu though the original poem was titled Phanki. The three stories are bound by several common elements. One of them is that they are all based on the works of Rabindranath Tagore. The second is – the protagonists in all three are women. The third and final commonality is that all the three films are varied expressions of love explore different dimensions of love – through childhood nostalgia, (Koni), through unreciprocated admiration from a distance (Kamala) and within marriage (Binu).

Teen Kanya
Teen Kanya

Koni, as a small girl had a close friend in Amal, her next door neighbour, the sole scion of a rich villager landlord. The film begins with a grown-up Koni, now married, arriving in the village to visit her parental home. The visit triggers memories of her friendship with Amal who has just returned from abroad after having finished his studies and is about to move away with a good city-based job. The two meet but, just like in real life, the story ends with a sharing of memories. The new actor who plays Amal is like a block of wood, awkward, expressionless and really bad while Sudipta Banerjee tries to put as much life in Koni as she can, failing because of the script and the direction and not because she has not done well.

Nalin (Bhaswar Banerjee) is a young commercial artist who is smitten by the beauty of Kamala (Soumili Biswas) who he encounters on his way to office every day. But Kamala already has a boyfriend as is planning to marry him after persuading her father who does not know about the relationship. She thinks Nalin is following her everywhere, even to the hills where she goes with her friends on a picnic. But Nalin camps himself in a tent, growing a camellia he promises to gift her with when it blooms. But when the camellia really blooms, he realises that his love story will never happen and gifts the flower to the Santhali maid to comes to wash his vessels at the tent on the hills! The film drags, is executed without imagination, failing to bring out the talents of good actors like Soumili Biswas and Bhaswar Chatterjee who try to draw the best out of the script they are given. The dress, make-up and acting of the actress who plays te Santhali beauty sticks out like a sore thumb and the film falls flat on its face. Mitra could have exploited the comic and the satire structured into the original poem but she could not.

Teen Kanya Bengali Movie
Teen Kanya Bengali Movie

If you can leave out the constant flow of glycerine in the character of the ever-ailing Binu (Rupanjana Mitra), the last story is perhaps the best in a pack of three inferior films. While waiting for a train to arrive before venturing on a climate change with her husband, Binu promises the young woman who sweeps the waiting room that she will ask her husband to give her some money to tide over her problems. After Binu’s death, her husband who had not given the promised sum to the poor woman and had accused her of trying to con his innocent wife comes back to the station to fulfill his deceased wife’s promise. But the poor woman has already left with her husband for some other place and the promise remains unrealized. Rupanjana as Binu and Saheb Chatterjee as her loving and empathetic husband do very well but the film fails to rise above mediocrity. The domestic scenes of a happy past are artificial impositions from without.

The 150th birth anniversary of Tagore has spouted a flood of feature and short films based on his creative works. Mitra has chosen poetry of which Phanki is the most widely read. However, the telling of each story is so banal, soppy, slow and full of plastic sentimentality that it refuses to touch the viewer in any way at all – emotionally, in terms of the story, aesthetically, in terms of the language of cinema, or in terms of entertainment. If the beautiful Tagore song numbers and music had not been there, many of the handful of audience gathered to watch the film might have walked out.  The terrible projection values in Nandan II reflect the very bad post-production work specially over the first 15 minutes of the film where the landscape and the figures appear quite hazy. The use of the cell phone in Kamala is quite confusing as it co-exists with the old tramcar that has almost disappeared from the streets of Kolkata! Mitra has tried to give Kamala a contemporary treatment but has not bothered to attend to detailing.

The films have been shot almost entirely on picturesque locales enriched by Tagore’s music and these are the only two positive points one can rate the film against. One more point goes to the actors who tried their best, specially Saheb Chatterjee, Soumili Biswas and Biswanath Ghosh but their performance could not hold Teen Tanaya together.

Shoma A. Chatterji

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