'Chaplin', Anindo Banerjee’s directorial debut is a tribute to one of the greatest figures of our time-Charlie Chaplin or Sir Charlie Chaplin, the Little Tramp. It is not a biography , but a make believe story of a father and son with elements of slapstick, pathos, irony and happiness to make the story more realistic.
It is in fact the story of Bangshi Das and his son who live in a slum and Bangshi imitates Chaplin or tries to imitate him at various weddings/parties/occasions just to make a living as he can’t do anything else. If 'Icche' was about mother and son, Chaplin is about the father and son.About a father who desperately needs a break and who wants to see his son happy at any cost.The underprivileged are such people who can be happy with even the bare minimum and they do not necessarily desire for more and more. This particular fact perhaps comes out in the scene where Banshi brings home a loaf of bread, wakes up Nemoa and tells him to have their meal together since he has brought home ‘mutton’, they relish that bread by dipping in a bowl of water and having it.That scene is probably the most ironic scene in the film where one relaise what povery is and what it can make a person do.
Then you have Rina, the young worker from a N.G.O who teaches children in a slum.Nemoa is one of them and when she approaches Bangshi to know why Nemoa is not coming and comes face to face with reality.She decides to help Bangshi and asks Indra, her boyfriend who is involved with the television industry and is about to launch a reality show on genuine talented comedians.Indra recognizes Bangshi from a past incident where he had irritated him at a wedding and had been slapped by him.He does not want to entertain him.However when Bangshi does get to perform in the show and even turns out to be the eventual winner, Indra even apologizes to him and appreciates his talent.
The film is essentially about the father and son and the film should have ended with Bangshi’s triumph as the eventual winner, but the storyline somehow changes.To make it more melodramatic and to create more pathos, the ultimate segment becomes necessary for the filmmaker, but maybe uneccessary for the audience.Nina’s speech in front of the media and Nimoa’s terminal illness and Bangshi's performance in front of his son on his son’s birthday is a little stretched.The film could have held it’s own without such additions, but these were inserted to make the audience ‘weep’ a little more and feel a little more.
The performances of Soham as Nemoa is so natural that you would think that he is actually Rudranil’ s son and so is Rudra.The father and son bond is one of the best things about the film.The last sequence is beautiful, but a little too overstretched.Rudra is much better as Bangshi than as Chaplin.Yes he is good, but he could have been better.Rachita as Nina is very good and natural, but her voice seems to be dubbed.The performance of Srijit Mukherjee, the director of autograph as Indra is also worth mentioning as he has played his part well.All the performances including those of Bangshi’s neighbours Paresh(Debesh Chatterjee), Jafar(Mir) and the others are so natural that you get taken in by the circumstances.
The set design and production design is worth mentiong.The entire slum or even Bangshi’s room is done up in such a way that it can only belong to a struggling ‘artis’ like him.Soumik’s cinematography is beautiful.The background score and the music in general is very beautiful.Kaushiki Desikan has made her debut as a playback singer in a Raga based song which is very nice.
Chaplin has strong performances(had to be as it is a performance oriented film) and definitely one of the better films in recent times.