Friday, December 29, 2006

Review: Aamra

A movie for the youth, about the youth and by the youth. That's precisely what the makers of Aamra proclaims it to be. It is about six characters from diverse backgrounds and their take on love and sex. In fact its also officially the first sex comedy in Bengali.

Amit (Jisshu) is a telefilm director who has just had her girlfriend (Pallavi Chatterjee), older than him and a wife and mother, walking out of their relationship. On a chat site he meets Shreya (Ananya Chatterjee). Shreya, young, pretty and sexy, is a teacher in a junior high school. She has just dumped Raj (Parambrata) who is a wannabe rockstar struggling to make it big. Raj hooks up Sunny (Debutant Momo), an undergraduade student in the same college/university, who has a secret relationship with Tapas (Kaushik Ghosh), her English professor. Bhasha (Nilanjana) is the professor's wife with an aspiration for acting. She meets Amit for a drama audition and starts liking him in subsequent meets. Except Tapas who is 39, all others are in their early to late twenties.

The film has deliberately not attempted to answer the quest for true love. At the end some of the characters find themselves better placed in the new relationships while some don't know what awaits them, yet they are satisfied with their decisions.

The director has done a damn good job of casting of most of the characters. Almost all the actors look their part. Param, Momo, Kaushik and Nilanjana have delivered extremely credible performances. So have Rudraneel and Rajatava in small roles. The realistic and easily identifiable characters helped, especially Param, Momo and Rudra. Momo hardly looks a debutant. Nilanjana, with a bit of motherly weight gain, looks the age and persona of Bhasha. Ananya is good too, except that her fluent English sounds a bit rehearsed sometimes. But though Jisshu looks a complete dude, his character should have been given a different background more suitable with his look and persona, and not that of a telefilm director. He is a mismatch.

Mainak Bhaumik, based in US, having made two international award-winning documentaries, debuts with feature film in Aamra. He has used a documentary style and non-linear narrative. The characters introduce themselves to the camera and talk about themselves throughout the film. Around these monologues Mainak weaves a story where they cross the paths of each other and come across new realisations of life. Treatment and style wise the film is a docu-feature on the youth's take on love and sex in contemporary urban society.

The film is urban, cool and chic in feel. A fare share of the dialogues are in English and justifiably so. It looks oven fresh and brutally honest on the take on love. Sex has been dealt with in a natural, straightforward and candid fashion, as a natural element of love and none of the characters are fussy about it. Most of the comic scenes are built around sexual encounters or discussion or banter. Interestingly, the director didn't show any sex scene to make a point as it was not called for by the script. It was pretty evident the makers had a struggling time with the censors as many a time words have been replaced with a beep.

About the visual experience there is one limitation though. Being a digital film, since all outdoor shots have been taken in natural light, many frames look dark on big screen. Most of the film is smartly edited by Shamik, though I feel jump cuts could be used less in some scenes, like the showdown of Pallavi and Jisshu. Such a scene distracts the viewer. Samik Halder's cinematography is minimal and realistic. Among other things the jerky camera movements made the film look candid and very different from the usual fare.The role of handheld camera movement to make the scenes look candid is well accepted, but the degree of it must be intelligently set, else it can make the audience lose focus on the story, like it has done to this film at some places. The dialogues need a special mention. They are extremely real and one can relate to them completely. There are some extremely funny one-liners with a sexual tone, and a fair share of them has gone to Rudraneel. The background score matches the mood.


Anindo Sen said...

Wonderful review - as usual. I hope the film finds its viewers. A film like 'Aamra' runs the risk of disappearing from the big screens pretty fast, as films like these do not have many takers, nor is it likely to receive much critical acclaim from the high-brow press. We, Bengalis, take ourselves too seriously and lack the sense of humour to appreciate something as candid as sex-talk in the common-place lingo. 'Aamra' successfully takes a dig at the conventional sexual behaviour of the modern Bengali youth and that in itself is something refreshing.

dipayan said...

Very well made film, but nowhere is it mentioned that it's a lift from the movie "Sideways of New York".

dipayan said...

Sorry, its Sidewalks of New York

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