Goutam Ghose and the producers at Doordarshan have decided and conceptualized the Samaresh Majumdar novel “Kaalbela”, into a digitally shot feature film (which was originally conceived as a 10 episode project scheduled to be aired on Doordarshan).
What confuses the audience is the “length” of the film. As a feature film “Kaalbela” is undoubtedly lengthy (2hrs 35mins). As a film adapted from a popular novel, “Kaalbela” remains majorly unexplored and unevaluated. It would have been better, had the film been released in a televisionized version.
Nevertheless the film can be emphasized as a benchmark in its kind. But for a film from Goutam Ghose, “Kaalbela” constitutes extensive technical flaws. Camerawork from Indranil Mukhopadhyay and Screenplay from Goutam Ghose are not arresting nor mind boggling. The treatment of the film in a mundane way doesn’t do good to the making of the film either. The background music created by Goutam Ghose can never be emphasized as haunting. Still the Rabindrasangeets (like NEEL DIGONTE…, FULER AGUN LAGLO… & O AMAR DESHER MATI TOMAR PORE THEKAI MATHA…) have been used in a synchronized fashion enough pull back the emotional voyeur back to the decades of the late 60s’ and early 70s’.
The performances have been exemplary and the person who has rediscovered herself with “Kaalbela”, is Paoli Dam. Be it sensitiveness or sensuality, insecurity or dejection, Paoli is at her very best in almost every frame. Paoli makes Madhabilata come alive (she has also sung a few songs for this film) with her earthy physical presence. Every sequence involving Paoli has a factor of burning emotion in it. And she makes the audience feel and cry… for a woman who looses everything despite not believing in the doctrine which her beau bestows upon. Parambrata has given his best performance till date. The script demanded that, and like a true maverick, Param has pounced upon to pacify the hearts in the theatres. Soumitra Chattopadhyay is there in the film, (as Sarit Sekhar) but experiencing him for just 4 sequences leaves us in a bad taste, panting and wanting for more. Rudranil as the student turned poet turned revolutionary impresses deeply, but it would have been better if Goutam avoided his inclination of making him chant verses of Shakti Chattopadhyay’s poems. But what haunts and itches is the subject, heart and timing of this film. The Naxalite movement under the leadership of Charu Majumdar, Saroj Dutta and others may have been a mayhem of a failure, but wasn’t the movement straight from the heart? Certainly it was. But tragically, this film isn’t. Goutam Ghose referred this film as a reference to the history of Bengal for the modern generation, but the Naxalite movement can never be undermined as a mere reference to history. It was a generation where youths were moved by ideals and sentiments. It was not like the present generations of withered away consumerist immorals running for “dear careers”. And with this comes in the timing of this film. It can beholded with precision that this film should have been made 15 years back. When American capitalism has rottened the grass root levels of the Indian economy, its futile to show citizens a film containing slogans of “TOMAR NAAM, AMAR NAAM, VIETNAM VIETNAM…” or “ORE PULISH, KOBI KE DEKHE, TUPI TA TOR KHULIS…” Thus as a film “Kaalbela” may have a strong message, but after the entire transformation of a society its confusing whether it would earn its worth. “Kaalbela” is KAAL-KER-BELA. . . . . . .