April 26, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Vorer Alo is a 2011 Bengali movie directed by Prabhat Roy with Rituparna Sengupta, Rohit Roy, Anusmriti Sarkar, Priyangshu Chatterjee and others. Read the Bengali film review at Calcutta Tube.
VORER ALO – TOO SWEET AND SUGARY
Banner: Green Pigeon Movies
Produced by: Vaishali Dalmiya
Story, Screenplay and Direction: Prabhat Roy
Music: Jeet Ganguly
Choreography: Baba Yadav
Costumes: Masaba Gupta
Cast: Rituparna Sengupta, Rohit Roy, Anusmriti Sarkar and Priyangshu Chatterjee
Date of Release: April 22, 2011
One unique achievement of Vorer Alo is that it is being released in Kolkata, West Bengal, Delhi, Mumbai, Tripura and Assam at the same time. Another is its Bengali identity. It is a Prabhat Roy signature that brands him as a director rooted to Bengal. His characters do not speak in Bengali spiked with generous doses of English or even Hindi. The women in his films are mostly covered and dressed in decent clothes. His storylines are high on family values.
Therefore, it is a bit confusing to discover his digression to commercial compromise that takes away his signature from his own film. Hangover was a massive disappointment. Vorer Alo (The Light of Dawn) has a stronger storyline spoilt by the long, dragging and never-ending script narrated almost totally in flashback. Arunabha Mitra (Priyangshu Chatterjee), a wealthy businessman, lives alone with daughter Rinka (Anupriti Sarkar).But he seems to have a secret liaison with a woman whose identity remains a secret because her head and face are always covered with the end of her sari. When daughter Rinka accuses him of insulting her dead mother Srimati’s (Rituparna Sengupta) memory, he unfolds a tragic story of love, betrayal, obsession, crime and punishment.
Before the flashback, the audience is granted a brief preview into the lovey-dovey father-daughter relationship cutting into a song scene showing bikini-clad young women romping in the waters with a few males thrown in. This is very unlike Prabhat Roy because the scene has been put in purely for the whistling front-benchers. It sticks out like a sore thumb. A slowly growing love affair between the beautiful and talented Srimati and the debonair and dashing rock star Shubhankar (Rahul Roy) turns sour on a dinner date when Sreemati catches him doctoring her coke with sleeping pills. While walking back on a rainy night through a dark street, she is rescued by Arunabha who drives her home only to find her cancer-ridden father dead, leaving her with the responsibility of taking care of her kid sister Payel (Anupriti Sarkar). Payel pushes the two to get married. But Srimati is so obsessed with her sister that she even sacrifices her motherhood. “Not until she is married and settled,” she tells Arunabha, always patient, acquiescing and understanding.
The story goes through so many twists and turns that it loses track of logic such as the same modernised oil cans and kitchen infrastructure 25 years ago into the flashback, or, the sudden change of heart in Shubhankar who falls really in love with Payel though his initial intention was to avenge the insult her sister heaped on him. His long-winding sob story about his mother is absurd, incredible and superfluous. What made Roy suddenly whitewash the character no one knows. What makes Rohit Roy always begin a dance number with his back to the camera or wear glares most of the time is also mysterious. He did the same in his earlier Bengali film Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. The way he treats his father, a single parent, is obnoxious and not the Prabhat Roy kind at all. Roy’s hail-fellow-well-met bonhomie is credible because the character is always faking his emotions. Good performance, Rohit. Poor Priyangshu is burdened with a flat character that is too sweet and syrupy to lend to the excitement and this flatness seeps into his marriage to Srimati who is made up to resemble Sushma Swaraj with a huge red bindi and the too obvious vermillion in her hair. The two leading ladies, Rituparna as Sreemati and Anupriti as Payel are much more convincing than the two men. Anupriti has a beautiful and fresh screen presence that can be tapped in a more central character.
It is the too sweet-and-syrupy nature of the characters that spoils the whole show. It is amoral to find that when Payel finds out that her older sister has killed her husband, the shock does not make her either angry or revengeful at all. Is she a forgiving Mother Theresa? Later, when Rinka learns that the woman she had known to be her biological mother has killed her own father directly and is also responsible for her mother’s suicide, instead of being shocked and furious, she is all melted wax dying for a mother’s love! Where is the moral in these stories? What message is Roy trying to get across?
The production values are wonderful, and can stand competition with any big-budget Bollywood film. The cinematography of a misty morning in the opening frames, the night scenes of the streets on a rain-leashed night and in the dance jugal bandi in the beginning, is brilliant.. Editing is wanting as the film could have been clipped of at least 30 minutes of its 150 minutes of b-o-r-i-n-g screening time. Jeet Ganguly’s title song Vorer Alo is very good and sets the pace of the film. One more song is very good but the background music is ear-piercing and in some places, downright bad. You cannot even doze off because the background score will not allow you to.
– Shoma A Chatterji