Mar 6, 2012 (Calcutta Tube): Zameen is a 2012 Bengali movie directed by Sourav Mukhopadhyay with Dolon Roy, Supriya Chowdhury, Dulal Lahiri, Sunil Mukherjee and others in the cast. Read the Bengali film review at CalcuttaTube.
ZAMEEN – A REASONABLY GOOD EFFORT
Direction: Sourav Mukhopadhyay
Producer: Umesh Kumar Agarwal
Presented by: S.D. Movies 2011
Story: Sangeeta Misra
Script: Manav Mukhopadhyay
D.O.P.: Mondal B.
Editor: Raj Singh Siddhu
Cast: Dulal Lahiri, Supriya Debi, Dolon Roy, Sunil Mukherjee, Aindrilla Chakraborty, Sambhu Chakraborty and others
Zameen is not exactly the run-of-the-mill film one expects to flow away in the week-end breeze following a Friday release. The storyline is melodramatic. But the telling of the story is reasonably good. For all it soppy sentimentality, it has a very realistic closure grounded in its lack of compromise or playing to the gallery.
It is a straightforward story without flashback or ornamentation about a small family devastated by personal tragedy where compromise with the powers-that-be becomes the ultimate truth. Shovarani (Supriya Devi) is an aged widow who lives a contented life with son Shiben, daughter-in-law Basanti (Dolon Roy) and their little boy Amar. Shiben runs a grocer’s shop in one corner of the big ancestral house, Basanti looks after the home and Amar is very good in studies. Sourav Mukhopadhyay has established a sweet and close bonding between Shovarani and Basanti that Basanti clings to long after her mother-in-law has passed away.
Shiben dies in a traffic accident and Basanti has to take up the reins of the shop and also look after the homestead. The script suggests the death of Shovarani instead of showing it, sparing melodrama. Amar grows up to be an educated young man married to Madhumita, a sweet wife who also holds a job.
The 35-year span of the film considers the changing circumstances where values have changed, where land grabbers are out to usurp the property of others and where young couples are eager to make a fast buck as soon as they can. Basanti is no exception. She is not spared the pressures and designations of the changing demands of changing times. In this story, it is represented by the sweet-talking promoter, Pramod Ranjan Sharma (Dulal Lahiri) who tries to persuade a now –aged Basanti to trade the ancestral house and land for two flats, a garage and some money. Basanti sticks to the nostalgia of her beloved mother-in-law and her departed husband and refuses to budge. Amar and his wife Madhumita are not averse to Pramod’s proposal but the house is in Basanti’s name.
Pramod takes the short cut to acquire the prime land and house – he arranges for his men to abduct Basanti from a hospital where she is lying sick. But his goons bump her off against his command. They bump her off and discard the body along the railway tracks in a jute bag. Amar, who is adamant to see that her mother’s killers are brought to book, is finally forced to surrender under Pramod’s threats on the one hand and the temptations he offers on the other. The big housing complex comes up and is named Basanti Apartments after Amar’s wishes.
Pramod is no villain. He is a microcosm of the changing face of the new Bengali who might resort to dubious ways to attain his goal but sticks to his promise made to Amar and his wife. He is a small nut in the big machine of India Shining. Amar is not a bad son either. He is just another cog in the giant wheel of greed and materialism. The film’s highest point is the use of well-chosen and positioned Tagore songs on the soundtrack instead of the characters lip-synching to them. The picturesque, lush green mantle of Palashpur village juxtaposed against the towering multi-storied housing complex brings out the irony of the old versus the new.
After doing indifferent roles in feature films, Dolon Roy has finally been able to prove her talents on the big screen as Basanti. She commands both dignity and credibility save that the make-up and hair do not do justice to the the time-leap. Dulal Lahiri is a treat to watch as Pramod. Supriya Devi is good but needs look the age the character demands and the plucked eyebrows. The film has very little violence, mainly incidental to the story, no item number and no exaggerated dramatics. Sadly, it will not run because the casting is not top-draw and the climax is too real.
– Shoma A. Chatterji