Casting a Spell

The story is about three estranged friends, who also happen to be filmmakers, being approached by a younger filmmaker to meet a producer, who has agreed to finance the portmanteau film.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by Premankur Biswas | Published: November 1, 2014 2:45:02 am
A still from Chatushkone. A still from Chatushkone.

Movie: Chatushkone (Bengali)
DIRECTOR: Srijit Mukherji
CAST: Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghose, Kaushik Ganguly, Parambrata Chatterjee, Chiranjit

Imagine a film starring Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Zoya Akhtar. A film which feeds off their chemistry and makes tongue-in-cheek references to their life and work at regular intervals. Sounds exciting? Srijit Mukherji’s Chatushkone is the Bengali version of such a film. It stars stalwarts of Bengali cinema: Goutam Ghose and Aparna Sen (recognisable names for any Bollywood film buff too) along with actor-cum-directors Kaushik Ganguly, Parambrata Chatterjee and Chiranjit. That is how the marketing team sold the film in Bengal, where it released to packed houses a month ago, and evidently it worked. The film has now been released across India. It’s easy to be smug about achieving a casting coup, and neglecting other aspects of filmmaking, but Mukherji’s script justifies the cast, and everything else falls into place commendably.

The story is about three estranged friends (Sen, Ghose and Chiranjit), who also happen to be filmmakers, being approached by a younger filmmaker (Chatterjee) to meet a producer, who has agreed to finance the portmanteau film, but only with these four filmmakers. There is more to it than meets the eye, of course, and skeletons are waiting to tumble out of the cupboard. The film progresses in the form of stories that each of these directors want to make, stories which cleverly reveal the emotional state of the characters narrating them. Things tamely lead to a Agatha Christiesque climactic sequence, where secrets are revealed with all the main players sitting around a table.

The performances are more than adequate. Sen’s lazy, mellow charm makes her character all the more credible. Ghose layers his performance with a sinister touch, as does Chatterjee. A smirk here and an empty look there makes both of them seem capable of anything. Chiranjit, who is known for his affected dialogue delivery in Bengali potboilers, oozes charm and refined sexuality. These aspects make Chatushkone Mukherji’s best film to date. Yet, there are moments where you hope the editor had intervened. A few post-climax sequences carry on like listless pillow talk.

premankur@expressindia.com

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