Over the years, Bengali arthouse cinema has made much progress. Today, the average urban youth casts a distasteful glance at a commercial poster and embraces a parallel film. Neglecting the hard work done by almost all actors in a mainstream film, movie goers and movie critics staunchly protect parallel films, turning the most insignificant incidents into philosophical questions, unnecessarily bring great bards like Tagore into comparison, and similarly, try to find every flaw in a mainstream genred film.
Okay, Hemlock Society, the third film of Srijit, has been well-borne and well-cared for, but a bit underweight. Why? Well, maybe all factors (almost) have their roles to play for the disappointment that had been caused in the public mind. Let me ensure I mention the high points, as only defining the negative parts will fetch me the title of "critic" which I would like to intentionally avoid.
Srijit's HS, if not a masterpiece, is a good story, said well and made well. The basic storyline revolves around dark humour...Hemlock Society, the suicide organization, is merely a fluctuation in this respect, or a vehicle for better and greater manifestation of the place Srijit wanted to strike.
Srijit's screenplay has always fetched him accolades, and that's one thing you can look out for in the film. How simplicity can adorn complexity, how a natural commonplace incident may be a perfect contrast to a dark, heavy burden, maybe aspiring directors can learn from him. Indeed, Srijit's style is worth emulating.
Next, one very high point is the performance by Parambrata. He brings to his character rightly all shades the film demands of him and the brilliant dialogue-throws and impeccable comic timings really make him stand out. His eye movement, lip movement and facial expressions are tips you can give to young actors.
In fact, performance wise, this is a good film. Rupa Ganguly has always been fabulous. Here she and Dipankar don't get scope to exercise their acting much but they impress us just like all others who are present in cameos or guest appearances.
Songs are good. I liked the Shreya Ghoshal number "Ei to ami chai" the most, though. It's delightful, hummable. Others too are good. Anupam is of course a good writer, a less good director of music and even a less good singer. But his singing suits him since he writes the song and can effectually bring out the right emotions.
Now, the not-so-good things:
1) Loopholes in the script - This is a point everyone has been discussing about and I need not explain further.
2) Koel - Okay, she's a mainstream queen and casting her in an offbeat role will help fetch enormous revenues due to her popularity. Also, her presence will explain the level of expectation of viewers. HOWEVER, she doesn't quite match up to the hype. She fails, many a time, to successfully bring out life in her character, and often looked drab and boring. She could not bring out the sense of helplessness in her fury. I feel Raima would have done better had she been cast. But, I salute Koel's decision to participate in an offbeat venture.
3) Srijit could have portrayed the "Ekhon Anek Raat" song in a different way. A better way of imagination perhaps would have avoided the cliche of the lead actor singing and playing an instrument. In fact, the value of the lyrics don't come out the way he has picturized them.
4) The end could have been easily a much better one. Like, Parambrata and Koel adding value to their friendship or even, Parambrata heading towards heaven, leaving behind memories, leaving behind Koel to take charge of his beloved HS.
5) The slangs - Srijit should restrain himself from using unnecessary slangs. They may be cash-multipliers but they don't make a good cinema.
HS is an experience, but not that very fulfilling one, unfortunately. A little more attention to it could have made it "BRILLIANT". It had the potential to be so.