Unfortunately, Kolkata harbours too many respectable Bengali babus, who call themselves highly intellectual and highly educated, and hence care to miss out a film like Le Chakka. Unfortunately, these babus flinch at the sight of Dev, feeling he is not suitable to match their status and hence neglect this film by Raj Chakrabarty. Unfortunately, I did not have the internet connection at the required time to rectify these men.
I cannot recollect when I had last seen a Bengali movie, that too a commercial one, with all aspects in equal proportion: a very good script, deft direction, brilliant acting, and above all, a gem to the true Bengali culture. A few arthouse films have attracted our attention, but most of these lack Bangaliyana. Most of these films ape the West, or try to do so, rather, and depict the long tussling dramas of the rich and the aristocratic. While, shielded by the veils of oblivion, a movie like Le Chakka rises, touches the hearts of a select few and disappears, because, as has been said by a few of my friends, it lacks wealth, drama, intellect, education "which are so essential to attract the urban audience".
Fine, but I am sure this movie will touch the right chords in the heart of a Bengali movie-watcher, who does not describe himself or work as a critic. Since I feel no restraint to openly declare that I belong to such a class, yes, Le Chakka has appeared as a masterpiece.
I usually do not dwell on the plot, but here, such a varied theme should be portrayed. If you feel it's a movie of cricket, you are wrong. If you feel it is one of Dev's quintessential romantic masala flicks, you are incorrect again. Sorry to say, it has adequate proportions of what constitutes typical Bengal: Para culture, Ghoti-Bangal fights, Telebhaja, Team spirit and camaraderie, Addas, Bonedi poribars and most importantly, romance. Even, it has to its credit the politics for which Bengal is renowned, and the poverty and the simplicity of North Calcutta.
Never before Dev has been brought before the spectators in such a well-furnished appearance. His serious attitude, his physique and excellence in romantic moments have already disclosed themselves before the public. But acting? The Bengali babus will sniff and say, "O to acting er 'a' o jane na!" Thanks, your destructive criticism has forced him to perform even better in Dui Prithibi. Anyway, Dev has delivered a spellbinding act in Le Chakka. I was surprised pleasantly to see a new Dev. One word to describe Dev is "Superb".
Yet, his dialogue delivery needs improvement, Bengali pronunciations should be better and he must not grimace too much. But his tremendous improvement from "I Love You" to "Le Chakka" deserves an applause. In fact, you can't stop praising Dev after the movie. His expressions will catch your attention and he is definitely a "good actor" to consider. Pity the Bengali babus and critics who think otherwise. But, well, we Bengalis are known to have a nose of pride! So, I know not how much insult he has to accept even if he proves himself.
Payel is delicate. She has given her best, but certainly, her diction too is not very clear. Particularly in the romantic scenes, she is very good. Dev-Payel indeed make a good pair, and their chemistry should be accepted. Payel, frankly, has got a role which is not very challenging, so, we can safely conclude she is yet to bring out her "shera performance".
Deepankar De, Labony Sarkar and Biswajit Chakrabarty are brilliant. Partho Sarathi Mukherjee, Kharaj Mukherjee and others are very good too. Mention must be made of the "purush-sondhani" girl - Payel's sister. She steals the show as a splendid actress. The moments when she has to bear the truth that she has been deprived of love are too good. Ritwik is also good.
Now comes to direction. That's where I have deducted the half-marks, since I find no reason as to why on earth Raj Chakrabarty tried to make his movie super-fast. We lost out many valuable jokes and arguments. But for the rest of the direction field, Raj Chakrabarty has passed with flying colours. His way of telling the story is praiseworthy indeed. Accurate positions of comic scenes, adequate space given to Dev-Payel's romance - these have been depicted very very well. Screenplay, funny moves, entries, exits, etc. have been grounded, logical and deftly handled.
Padmanava Dasgupta...ah!! What a relief from the monotone of South flicks! And hats off, what a beautiful story you have spun! We expect many more from you. A very well-made story, it will make you feel you have seen truly "a Bangla chobi".
Indradeep Dasgupta has created some heavenly songs. "Ali Maula" is too good, and the way it has been shown proves why Raj Chakrabarty is one of the best directors in modern Bengali cinema. Of course, the Bengali babus will disagree; but what to do!? I beg to disagree with them, sorry.
"Ua Ua E" is wonderful. Truly wonderful. Well, no matter how much you criticise Bengali commercial cinema, you have to nod in approval that its songs are awesome. Much, much better than the songs we have in some urban films.
All in all, Le Chakka is a miss for those who want to miss. If you miss it for Dev, you will be missing a splendid Bangla film.
Frankly, being a man aged 45, after so many years, a Bengali movie has left me shaken. Thank you, Raj. Thank you, Le Chakka.