Element of unknown

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 30.12.05

Element of unknown


Director: Sekhar Das Cast: Shilajit, Roopa Ganguly, Soumitra Chatterjee, Haradhan Banerjee, Arkapriya Ganguly, Arjun Chakraborty, Rajesh Sharma


A terrorist on the run is not exactly a new tale, which is what Sekhar Das’ National Award-winning Krantikaal is about. But there is attached to it the element of the unknown that continues to fascinate us, no matter which side of the ideological divide we may be on, which is what Das in his quiet style of storytelling, provokes us to think about.

On the run is Shilajit, a terrorist from the Northeast, where exactly not explained, who believes in the power of the gun, and against whom is pitted almost every character in the film, from Roopa Ganguly to her father-in-law Soumitra Chatterjee and her sort-of-lover, Arjun Chakraborty. A sort of relationship between them is just about what the film suggests, where almost all the characters are trapped in worlds of their own, and their interactions with each other are stifled and restricted, partly because they are restricted by physical and mental constraints.

Almost caught in a time wrap, life at the Rajbari has come to a standstill after the loss of its royal power, the only remains of which are the huge sprawling palace and the antique furniture, which Das has used well, especially the pendulum clock in Soumitra’s room, which ticks away the hours in his life while he plays chess with himself.

And what has remained is the old Rajbari idealism, that protection has to be given to a shelter seeker. Into this world, where all the characters are either sick or old, Shilajit bursts in, his young blood throbbing with idealistic dreams and revolutionary ideas. Das gives his film a very promising start which, for the most part, he maintains, but there are moments we feel let down. Like the verbal exchange between Shilajit and Arjun, which sounds like a flat, dull chamber drama. Given the cinematic scope of the film, it could have been better integrated into the scenes, just as the terror could have been made a lot more real. Such scenes, or their execution, disappoint.

But the brilliant interplay between light and darkness, which Das and P.B. Chaki had most successfully used in his award-winning Mahulbonir Sereng too, makes an impact which will be long remembered. Like the song Soumitra and his granddaughter, Arkapriya Ganguly, who is also paraplegic, sing while the camera takes us to the beautiful world they imagine, as they themselves remain confined in their old Rajbari.

Deepali Singh

But for the overkill...

Vaah! life ho toh aisi!

Director: Mahesh V. Manjrekar Cast: Sunjay Dutt, Shahid Kappur, Amrita Arora, Prem Chopra, Sharat Saxena


When you make Ghost meets Mr India, the encounter better be racy. But Manjrekar begins in a picturebook style showing how Shahid and family go the happy-to-be-together way. But he needs money to save his mansion and an armful of nephews and nieces. Also add sister’s marriage, ailing grandmom and alcoholic brother.

When Shahid is almost there, getting things under control, bang! ? an accident ? and he takes off in a vintage red Chevrolet with the suave Yamraaj MA (Sunjay Dutt) to heaven. It’s Sunjay who really carries the film thereon. Apart from the high-tech delights ? flying car et al, Mr Yamraaj in Sanju’s inimitable style keeps you hitched to the movie, somewhat. And, of course, a cameo by Arshad who connects with ghosts offers reason to laugh.