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Upperstall Review



Jiyo Kaka


Bengali, Drama, Thriller, 2011, Color

Wrik (Rahul Bannerjee), Asif (Rudranil Ghosh) and Amit (Abhiraaj) are like three comrades, relentless in their ambition to make it big in films. But their struggle for survival in the world of the entertainment market traps them in a blind alley where all exits have been closed. They are alienated from the mainstream because they constantly try to project their originality despite their failure. Yet, they remain adamant about realizing their cherished dreams Ė one wants to become a top star in films; another wants to make significant off-mainstream films while the third wants to follow on the tracks of the Big Bollywood. Pushed to the edge of desperation, they decide to commit what in the eye of the law, is a crime. They kidnap a top actress of films (Rituparna Sengupta). What happens makes a hitting black comedy written with the ink of dreams drawn from a pot of frustration, urban angst and pain?

Jiyo Kaka explains the merry mix of entertainment with a forceful message right at the beginning of the film by saying that this could be a true story or a fairy tale thereby undercutting any questions on some of its unbelievable story-telling strategies The story is narrated mainly in flashback from the point of view of Asif, the scriptwriter in the film-within-the-film whose voice takes over from time to time as the narrative sometimes moves, sometimes jumps but mostly glides over incidents and accidents that happen in the lives of these three dreamers. Wrik, Asif and Amit have arrived in Kolkata from different corners of the state. They befriend one another and decide to make the greatest film ever. Through the three characters, each with his branded dress sense, behaviour and manner of speech, the director and the script harp on the precariousness of our moral and social order. Money must be earned but then, who will make the film? Adapting the double world of the young menís fantasies fused into the sub-theme of a don who can only speak in the language of cricket, the director tries to induce elements of the thriller genre into the ordinary world of the three young men. Debut director Parambrato Chatterjee dramatises the way in which the two distinct worlds of the dreamers and the larger-than-life, flesh-and-blood film star Neelanjana Gupta held captive in distant Santiniketan merge and blend till the captive takes over her captors in a strange game of political hide-and-seek, teetering over a frightening climax that moves rapidly towards a slightly melodramatic end as incredible as any Hindi film of yore.

The three friends are real. The world they dream of, the script Asif has written and the incidents they make happen such as suddenly deciding to kidnap the top star of Bengali films to extort money from her so that they can produce their dream film are not. The police force represented by one Aniket (Saswata Chatterjee) and his assistant Ganguly are caricaturized in a satiric sense, underscoring its total lack of efficiency. The third angle that shows the nutty don (Shilajit) who insists on his men wearing the old cricket uniform of white, who cannot talk without using cricketing jargon, is a sad superimposition on what could have been a truly entertaining film with some strong touches of pathos and sadness.

A party scene featuring famous film directors and music makers reminds one of the Om Shanti Om song sequence though here, it marks a prelude to the amateurish kidnapping of the film star by the three bumbling young men who use underwear as masks to hide their identity. The lead characterizations are sharply drawn and wonderfully fleshed out by all the three actors. Rahul is wonderful as the pensive, apparently confident and aggressive Wrik. Rudranil, quiet but prone to sudden bursts of anger. and Abhiraaj,† the simple, soft-hearted, tearful Amit shortened from Amitabh though he is a Shahrukh Khan fan, are marvelous throughout the film. Kanchan Mullick as the film starís two-faced secretary generates laughter even in a negative role. Rituparna Sengupta almost plays her real self in the film albeit under a different name with a different back story and adds both chutzpah and charisma to the shades of the character. Saswata as the police officer is his comic self but is getting badly typed in similar roles in most films.

The moonlight scene shot on the banks of a river where Neelanjana breaks into a mellow Rabindra Sangeet is rich in its aesthetic beauty but borders on the absurd in terms of its logic. This single scene encapsulates the beauty of Soumik Halderís cinematography also evident in the lighting of the party scene, shots of the three boys sparring, fighting, arguing and making up on the terrace of an old building. Sujoy Dutta-Royís editing with a few reservations, fulfills the demands of the script. The scene in the film starís make-up room has been realistically scripted, shot and performed. The art direction is apt in the room the three boys share with the walls quickly filling up with huge posters of film stars and personalities from Uttam Kumar to Shah Rukh Khan to Ritwik Ghatak and some pinups. This makes the landlord so furious that he threatens to throw the boys out because they are three months behind on their rent. The film takes on the elements of a dream like fantasy in the donís den with false cricket balls hanging all over the place, a LCD screen forever flashing some cricket match or another and the terrible villain pacing up and down in cricket whites forever thrilled with himself for God-Knows-What!

Neel Duttaís musical score is pleasant though among the songs, the only one that will stand the test of time is the title song that goes Jiyo Kaka and also doubles up as the filmís theme song orchestrated to fit precisely into the mindset of the three protagonists.

Overall, Jiyo Kaka is an entertaining enough film though it does not resort to any item song, any romantic interest or even typical song-dance numbers. Had Parambrato kept away the real crime angle, Jiyo Kaka would have been a far better film than it is now.

Upperstall review by: Shoma A Chatterji





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