Screenplay, dialogue and direction: Kaushik Ganguly
Music: Indraadip Dasgupta
Editing: Bodhaditya Mukherjee
Cast: Lily Chakraborty, Pallavi Chatterjee, Ardhendu Banerjee, Rudranil Ghosh,
Gargi Roy Choudhury, Bharat Kaul, Saheb Bhattacharya, Tanushree Chakraborty, Mimi Chakraborty, Tridha and others
By Shoma A. Chatterji
Crisis is a simple, six-letter word loaded with meanings that reach beyond the literal realm. Kaushik Ganguly’s Khaad (The Fall) is a celluloid representation of crisis. Though literally, the word khaad translates as ‘abyss’, Kaushik calls it ‘the fall.’
Set in contemporary West Bengal, the crisis initially seems simple and incident-driven, but as one goes along, the director’s and the cinematographer’s vision shifts and expands to focus on the characters, their interaction within the families, and their new bonds with fellow victims who are strangers. The songs are on the soundtrack, but are so loud that they tend to disturb the flow. On hindsight, they were perhaps not needed at all as the film deals with crisis as the subject matter, the characters and how their lives are completely shaken by the crisis.
Soumik Halder’s cinematography is devastatingly brilliant as it catches the light within the span of a single day; the sunlight fading away slowly as the day begins to roll, sometimes turning attention towards the disturbed, confused, questioning faces of the victims trapped in a no-exit vortex of circumstances beyond their control. The ‘truth or dare’ game survivors play define short stories within the larger story, a few of which are too cliché for this film like the Hindi teacher’s guilt of having molested a student and the cancer-ridden widow’s (Lily Chakraborty) back- story is another. The other lapse lies in the conspicuous absence of life-devastating conflicts among the survivors, born of the basic self-preservation instinct found in man. In contrast, the laughter, the bonhomie, the drinking party somewhat dilutes the intensity that unfolds in the drama. However, the dramatic twist in the climax undercuts these minor lapses.
The characterisation and acting is brilliant with top marks to Kamaleshwar Mukherjee as the secret agent followed by Kaushik Ganguly as the anguished son trapped by his mother’s terminal disease, Saheb and Mimi as the honeymooning couple and Tanushree as the girl with the sad story, etc. Tridha is wonderful as a growing girl constantly in conflict with her parents while Pallavi Chatterjee as her over-eager, ambitious mother is a natural. Kudos to Gargi Roy Choudhury and full marks to the young actor who portrays her mentally deranged brother. As the conductor of the ill-fated bus, Kaushik strips actors like Rudraneel of their mannerisms. The Catholic priest (Ardhendu Banerjee) reminds one of the sermonising Reverend Frank Scott from Poseidon Adventure (1972) based on a similar, but culturally distanced film on a man-made crisis like this one.
Khaad is a never-to-be-missed film. One wonders how it didn’t get its due.