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Old June 21st, 2017, 01:09 PM
ashdoc ashdoc is offline
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Ashdoc's movie review---A death in the Gunj

This english language film made by Bollywood is set in the hill station of McCluskieganj in what was then the Indian state of Bihar in the year 1979 . Now McCluskieganj is in the state of Jharkhand , after Bihar was bifurcated later . The film is set among the Anglo Indian community , that is descendants of Britishers who had married Indians .

The main striking point of the Anglo Indian community as shown in the movie is the boldness of the women , at least relative to those times . When the position of Indian women was backward in 1979 , the women are shown smoking and drinking and dancing and flirting with men and even having premarital sex in one case . They wear western clothes denied to most Indian women in those times .

The season is winter , and cold is beginning to set in McCluskieganj at least during the night . The pleasant weather and natural beauty of the surroundings gives a relaxed feel to some scenes . Like always , I want nothing to happen in such a bounty of nature . But the name of the movie and the start of the movie ( in which a dead body is being transported ) does give indication that something is about to happen .

From the name of the movie one thinks that it is a murder mystery , and the impending suspicion that a murder is going to happen does hang over the proceedings . But the movie moves in a different direction--it shows a young man called Shutu ( played by Vikrant Massey ) being harassed and made to feel small by the others in the assembled group .

Shutu is thin and has failed in his exams and has just lost his father , but receives no sympathy from most of the group except two persons . Instead he is bullied by the character played by Ranvir Shorey , who plays a prank on Shutu in what is supposed to be a planchette and even physically bruises him in a sport . The whole film has this thread , and frankly it is not pleasant to watch . Shutu becomes the centre of the film and all attention of events is focused on him in the movie .

Ironically , in the minds of the characters assembled in the movie the importance of Shutu becomes less and less as the movie progresses . In the middle of the movie he is important to a little girl called Tani . She likes his company and his reserved studious nature and hangs out with him all the time , feeling sad that others belittle him .

But soon Shutu gains the attention of the slut of the movie , played by Kalki Koechlin . She has an extra marital affair going on with Ranvir Shorey , but he soon brings his wife there . In a fit of jealousy Kalki has a brief affair with Shutu , which includes sex . She looks good in exposing clothes and skirts , and acts well . But the little girl Tani gets angry with Shutu as he begins to ignore her company in the heat of the affair with Kalki .

There are others in the movie like Gulshan Devaiah , Tanuja , Om Puri and Jim Sarbh . They as a whole form a boisterous lot , enjoying life to the full . But they make the perfidy of not realising how Shutu must be feeling .

The crisis of the movie occurs when the little girl Tani goes missing , and you think that this must be the murder....but she is found later . But in the search Shutu goes missing too , and no one misses him because Tani is found . Later Kalki too tires of him and Tani is still sore with him . Life has no meaning anymore for Shutu as the two people who gave him some importance too forget him .

The end of the movie becomes all too clear at this point , but it also seems meaningless . What does the director want to say , that people in the position of Shutu should end their lives ? That they should not try to improve or better their lowly position ? That they have no hope ? The critics are praising the film ( which is why I went to see it ) but as an ordinary person I could not make sense of the ending .

Of course , the critics may be crowing because acting by Vikrant Massey is simply superb as Shutu . Every expression on his face and body conveys how he feels . Everybody else acts well too , and the pace of the movie is leisurely . Background music is okay , but the colours of the film are not great though photography improves as the movie progresses .

Verdict---okay .

Two and a half stars .

Last edited by ashdoc; June 22nd, 2017 at 03:29 AM.
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