Sometimes one needs a first time, enthusiastic, sensitive Bengali filmmaker to bring the best out of Hindi mainstream actors. Though the best of Dia Mirza in Paanch Adhyay may not be good enough for the viewers but it is certainly an achievement by writer/director, Pratim D Gupta.
Paanch Adhyay (screened during MAMI festival) is a relationship story that has sometimes bookish, sometimes endearing, sometimes old fashioned, sometimes self indulgent pages structured in the form of five chapters of a couple’s life. It attempts to unravel the complications of married life, a subject too intense, with a treatment too casual. A stylized, contemporary narrative form and stunning visuals lifts Paanch Adhyay to an above average watch.
A handsome young film director, Arindam ( Priyanshu Chatterjee) and a pretty, young school teacher,Ishita (Dia Mirza)meet at a party. A charming banter later, Arindam follows Ishita around with red roses and wins her over. Starting on this rather filmy and amateurish note, the film moves to real ground. Arindam, now an older and a successful film director eats lonely meals at home. Opposing ideologies have created a silent rift in his marriage. He casts a young, vivacious new face, Ranjabati(Sampurna Lahiri) in his upcoming film. They fall for each other, thus opening a challenging chapter in Chatterjee’s life with Dia Mirza. More complications follow, both predictable and unpredictable, turning around Chatterjee’s concept of lasting love. A simple line in the film puts out an interesting perspective,.. “there is nothing purer than love, sometimes with the same woman..sometimes..”
Besides the story, the film’s take on Satyajit Ray’s Charulata(as one director-played by Soumitra Chatterjee in a fabulous guest appearance, says to Arindam in the film-“how long will Bengalis milk Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray ”)is a good insight. Arindam’s character in his new film is called Charu. In his own life, Ishita portrays the neglected wife with strong beliefs which challenge his own. This fascination with Ray’s Charulata is brought out well; kind of a half chuckle.
Dia Mirza as Ishita looks extremely pretty and graceful in elegant cotton sarees but doesn’t quite get into the character’s skin. Likewise, Chatterjee is equally charming in his presence but superficial in his performance. Sampurna Lahiri as the young newcomer is the most compelling of the three.
Anand Chakravarti ‘s cinematography makes every frame look like a piece of admirable artwork. Shantanu Moitra’s music lifts the theme wonderfully but at times gets distracting, especially in a serious scene between Mirza and Chatterjee in the end.
Writer/ director, Pratim D Gupta who is also a film critic with The Telegraph, is commendable for displaying a keen cinematic sensibility and a genuine love for the medium.
Paanch Adhyay has much promise and potential in its style and theme of love redefined but lacks the intensity and maturity the story requires.