More than a decent effort...
Laboratory, a story written by Rabindranath Tagore just before a year before his death marks the debut of the Bollywood glam queen Raveena Tandon in Bengali films. This woman centric film is essentially the tale of two women, especially Sohini a rusty uneducated girl who is married to Nandakishore and then is left with a girl and the lab at the end of the first year of her marriage due to her husband’s unfortunate death while carrying out an experiment in the lab. The story is all about how Sohini gets a hold of herself and makes an utmost effort to live upto her husband’s dream of maintaining the lab at any cost even if it means sacrificing the happiness of her daughter.
Nandakishore, a scientist spends all his savings to build a modern laboratory with all the latest instruments so that he can carry out all his research work. He also marries an uneducated rusty Punjabi girl who is half if age called Sohini.Within a year of his marriage, Nandakishore dies while carrying out an experiment. But before he had passed away, he had made Sohini understand what the lab meant to him and an able person should run the lab in his absence and Sohini must see to that.
Nandakishore and Sohini had a child Nila.As she grows up, Sohini shelters her extremely and also tries to find an able person to run the lab. Professor Manmatha Chaudhuri, an acquaintance refers Rebathi Bhattacharya, his ex student to her. She speaks to Rebathi and appoints him as the person in charge of the lab. However she asks her daughter to stay away from him as she wants Rebathi to be completely focused on the lab.Nila is also no ordinary girl and she uses all her womanly charms to win Rebathi over. From then on, it becomes a game of upmanship between the mother and the daughter. When Rebathi goes to Ambala for a few days, Nila seduces Rebathi one night and even wins him over. They decide to get married.Nila does all this because she wants her father’s property and she decides to go to court with this matter. She makes Rebathi the president of the local club and he decides to throw a party to celebrate the occasion. On the day of the party, Nila arrives at the party and asks Rebathi about the money in the lab account. He is unable to say anything as the party is being sponsored by the money from the lab account. He is dismissed by Nila.
However later on Sohini and Nila reconcile.
The film is a remarkable film in the life of Raveena Tandon.She is brilliant as Sohini, a rusty Punjabi lady who transforms herself remarkably in order to keep her late husband’s dream alive and for which she will do anything and remove any obstacles in the way. The film we constantly see this upmanship between the mother and daughter each trying to supersede the other. Every person has a positive and negative side to them , but when it comes to Sohini, no one knows which side she will turn to because it seems to keep her husband’s dream alive, she will destroy anything or anyone that will come in the way including the daughter as has been shown in one scene. She is ruthless whereas her daughter Nila is sort of conniving or is made to be so due to certain elements who poisons her mind and she has this special affinity towards woman and make them dance to her tunes. That is exactly what she does with Rebathi.Arpita is excellent as Nila and sometimes steals the show over Raveena.Some people were heard laughing at her accent but the fact is she has done an excellent job. Maybe the language barrier also restrained her acting abilities.
Saheb as Rebathi, a character torn between Sohini and Nila and who also becomes a point of contention between the two is marvelous. He is shown to be a meek, timid character who succumbs to the charms of Nila and later gathers some courage when Nila confronts him regarding the fund of the lab, but again goes back to his meek, timid self when his aged aunt comes calling at the party.Saheb is getting better and better with every film of his and he had even proved it last time around with his cameo in ‘Shukno Lanka’.
The relationship between Manmatha and Sohini hasn’t been portrayed well at all and whatever attempt has been made to showcase their relationship has resulted in a big mess.Manmatha has been shown as Sohini’s friend, philosopher and guide and there is somewhat a more hidden affectionate side to that relationship, but without ever trying to bring out clearly, the director has just slammed it on the audience’s face and as a result all that the audience experienced at the premiere was shock and disbelief when Sohini embraces Manmatha out of the blue on a couple of occasions.Rebathi signing autographs at the felicitation of being selected president of the Jagrani Club is not believable as is his playing around Nila’ s feet when they are in the park. The background score is good as is also the song at the party where June Mallya appears as a singer and the song clearly reminds us of that era. The costumes and the sets match the era. The character of Sohini is shown to be too negative and ruthless which is not apparently not so in the story and also Sohini should have ‘spoken’ much better Bengali and adapted herself as a Bengali as well rather than her being an extremely proud Punjabi rather than a Bengali as portrayed in the film, however taking everything into consideration it is more than a decent effort from the entire team.