Saturday, June 28, 2008

Via Darjeeling

The movie verges on the boundary of good and a tad boring. The reason for this tricky combination is that the film has brought together some very convincing actors but the story fails to engage the audience enough.

Without delving much, here's the basic framework of the film: Sonali and Kay Kay are on their honeymoon when one of them disappears. A policeman (Rabin) is called for investigation. Period. He recalls the incident to a group of friends and a session of speculation begins.

The film literally takes off with a rough start (courtesy a rash driver) and remains engaging for a while. It's at the adda session in Ranu's (Rajat Kapoor) house in Calcutta when the pace begins to falter slightly. As each narration differs only in some intricate points and most scenes and shots remain the same, a sense of redundancy piles up somewhere in the middle of the film. Though the story gears up again towards the end, to finish off on a teasing note.

Vinay Pathak (Rabin) with his cigarette-sniffing act repeats the magic characteristic of him. Rajat Kapoor (Ranu) looks wow in the new look. Sandhya Mridul (Mallika) looks rather too bored and sullen. Sonali Kulkarni (Rimli) plays the part of a pampered, rich daughter well, but newly married Rimli's character is not very likeable on the whole due to her soft, overtly sweet drawls most of the time and the occasional hysteria. Proshant Narayanan (Kaushik) (guess a few 'r' and 's' are missing, but nevermind) is good, so is Simone Singh (Preeti). Parveen Dabbas (Bonny) disappoints with a rather drab and dull performance, which was also incidentally expected of his character at most points of time.

Given that there are certain people who like ambiguity and insist on it with a creative compulsion, we can assume that it was intentional to leave the viewer with a set of unanswered questions. But a little more detailing would not have hampered this intentional ambiguity. The end is such that it will probably compel viewers to review the characters as per their own perceptions, discuss, debate and ponder on. Via Darjeeling is an ideal prelude to a round of discussions.

The film is more about the perception of mystery than mystery itself. And had this rather interesting idea been worked on more comprehensively, the movie would have been more appealing.

But why doesn't Via Darjeeling cross rightaway into the 'good' territory? The redundancy when the friends speculate their own versions, for one. The story versions could have done better with more punch (I loved Kaushik's version btw, and the conversation thereafter) or more variations in the shots. Secondly, all the characters could have been etched better.

All said and done, I am waiting for friends to go watch this movie so that we can discuss things out. Am really keen to know what they made of the story. In fact, in spite of the tad boredom, Via Darjeeling gets all the more interesting after it ends. There's much fodder to let the brain start ticking away after the credits roll.