TEEN YAARI KATHA (2012) Bengali Film Review – WONDERFUL SOCIAL COMMENT

Review

TEEN YAARI KATHA – WONDERFUL SOCIAL COMMENT

Teen Yaari Katha (A Tale of Three Friends) is a film that predates most male bonding films like 3 Idiots and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara by quite some years. It was ready for release in 2007 but the release got delayed because the Censors thought that the dialogues were too bawdy for their taste alongside some visual graphics. The audience has changed, social comments in films have mutated beyond recognition and the Censors have, in a manner of speaking, been forced to refrain from passing moral judgements on language and visuals in films. After years of waiting, Teen Yaari Katha retained the “A” but was released without a single sound beep to drown the words considered ‘indecent’ six or seven years ago.

Presented by:SaharaMotion Pictures

Produced by: Arpita Chattopadhyay

Directed by: Sudeshna Ray and Abhijit Guha

Story: Sudeshna Roy, Abhijit Guha and Anindo Banerjee

Music: Bhoomi

D.O.P.: Debnath Gangopadhyay

Editing: Sujoy Dutta Roy

Cast: Parambrato Chatterjee, Neel Mukherjee, Rudraneel Ghosh, Gargi Roy Chowdhury, June Mallya, Rimjhim Mitra, (Late) Geeta Dey, Saswata Chatterjee, Nitya Ganguly and Biplab Chatterjee

Rating: 07/10

 

Teen Yaari Katha (A Tale of Three Friends) is a film that predates most male bonding films like 3 Idiots and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara by quite some years. It was ready for release in 2007 but the release got delayed because the Censors thought that the dialogues were too bawdy for their taste alongside some visual graphics. The audience has changed, social comments in films have mutated beyond recognition and the Censors have, in a manner of speaking, been forced to refrain from passing moral judgements on language and visuals in films. After years of waiting, Teen Yaari Katha retained the “A” but was released without a single sound beep to drown the words considered ‘indecent’ six or seven years ago.

Dil Chahta Hai (2001) which predates Teen Yaari Katha, explored a different area of bonding that covered an elitist, English-speaking, post-modernist group like 3 Idiots and ZNMD did. Teen Yaari Katha is down-to-earth, unpretentious, honest and entertaining. Through the close involvement of three friends whose lives are led almost in the margins, the film digs into coming-of-age issues of the youth like – ogling at topless covers of soft-porn glossies, drilling a hole into the wall that divides their room and the next rented out to a newly married couple to peep at you-know-what, using language considered bawdy by the commoner, standing beside absolute strangers like the young couple when they attempt suicide and so on.

That is a glimpse into the ‘real.’ There is also a bit of the surreal that comes through the fantasies of the three young boys who try to live out their dreams and fantasies in different ways. Biloo (Neel Mukherjee), an orphan, lives in his maternal uncle’s dilapidated mansion with his loving grandmother. His two friends Shyamal (Rudraneel Ghosh) drives an auto rickshaw and Antu (Parambrato Chatterjee), the most educated and quiet of them all, is frantically  looking for a job. He fills his empty hours either thinking of his mother back home who sends him a money order every month from her meager salary while Neel recalls his parents’ death in an accident suggested only through sound. Shyamal has visions of his village home where his asthmatic father does not earn and fears the family might be wiped out due to poverty and starvation.

Their sexual and emotional angst are expressed through tiny bytes of sound-visual collages. Biloo’s uncle’s daughter (Rimjhim Mitra) takes Shyamal’s rick to go to college everyday. Shyamal is terribly attracted to her but of course she never responds. Once, he hears her comment on how handsome he was looking with his glares the other day. Later, she tells him that she was talking into her hands-free cell! Biloo falls for a lovely girl (Paoli Dam in a dialogue-less role), the daughter of one of the houses he delivers the papers to. She is not aware of his existence. The prim and proper Antu is seduced by the slightly older Dola (Gargi Roy Choudhury) he meets at the local theatre group’s rehearsals. But he refuses her offer of a job on television when he sees what she has to do to get into the circuit.

Towards the end, when the three friends are riding back in Shyamal’s auto from the hospital where the young couple is recuperating from a suicide attempt, the three have fantasies about these three young women coming back into their lives. The girl Biloo fell for stands in full bridal attire on the roadside and gets into the auto to join him. Dola opens the door of the hotel room and falls into Antu’s arms. Biloo’s cousin walks into Shyamal’s rick. These are fantasies that provide the grist to their humdrum lives they have accepted with grace.

The wonderful script takes potshots at social realities in a very subtle but firm way. The director of the local theatre group setting his spy on Dola’s movements because he has an eye on her is one example. Dola’s succumbing to the casting couch willingly to get away from the mundane life in the suburbs is another. The very-much-in-love young couple’s frustrations after the elopement because the husband fails to find a job even in a coaching class are a comment on unemployment. Biloo not throwing his uncle’s political clout in anyone’s face unless he is pushed to do it is an example of his self-esteem.

The art direction is mind-blowing, complete as it is with the dirty mosquito net, newspaper reproductions of Shyamal’s ‘guru’ Prosenjit pasted on the walls of the room beside the framed images of Gods and Goddesses, the graffiti, the dark lanes of the suburbs they live in, the newspaper stall that defines the opening frame, the bench outside the hospital where the three friends spend a sleepless night, the village home with Shyamal’s sickly father coughing away, the bed where Biloo’s grandmother spends most of her time, everything is worked out to the tiniest detail aided by a tightly-knit script and pungent-yet-pithy dialogue and outstanding cinematography that fleshes out the setting without letting glamour take over. The only scar is in the ‘fixed’ scene of the ‘rescue’ of the pretty cousin that goes awry. It is hilarious but does not belong.

Bhoomi’s music is rightly rendered secondary to the story but even so, it blends into the rhythm and the narrative unfolding of the film fluidly. The acting runs away with the top prize. The three actors, who come together in one of their first films, are now well-known names across the board and they have done the directors proud with their no-nonsense performance. The supporting cast even with one-second scenes have not ignored the brevity of their cameos beginning with Nitya Ganguly who runs the newspaper stall, through Biplab Chatterjee for a change in a sober and earthy role, Saswata Chatterjee and June Mallia as the ill-fated couple, Gargi as the ambitious girl with sensuous looks, Rimjhim Mitra as Biloo’s cousin to the late Gita Dey in one of her last roles.

The editing seems a bit jerky at a place but perhaps that has to do with the needs of the screenplay. Even so, at times, it disturbs the smoothness of the unfolding. Teen Yaari Katha will carry emotional resonances among men who are now in their forties and fifties who will become nostalgic about their coming-to-terms-with-their-sexuality days. It offers an insight into how young men bond with their fights and their foibles, their loves and their hates, never mind that they are different from each other in every respect as chalk is from cheese.  The film stands out as a social comment that is as true today as it was when the film was first made six or seven years ago. The cold storage life of six long years in hibernation has not dated the text and the context in any way. In this sense, it is also a sad comment on how time has not changed the lives of youngsters like Biloo, Shyamal and Antu who we see around us every day, living off their dreams and fantasies to infuse some colour and music into their dreary lives.

Three cheers for Sudeshna Roy and Abhijit Guha for a delightful film that is as entertaining as it is a social statement. One desperately wishes that the commercial run of the film lives up to the promise of the film’s selection for screening at the KFF six years ago, at the Osians the following year and another international film festival that obviously had less moral baggage and more sense than the Central Board of Film Certification!

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