“In period dramas, nothing comes on the screen accidentally, neither the set nor the costumes. All of it is well-researched, and everything is chosen carefully and purposefully,” said the costume designer of Greta Gerwig’s movie Little Women. But, it seems the makers of ALTBalaji’s period drama It Happened In Calcutta read a different rule book. Probably, this is why they forgot halfway into the web series that they are making a period drama.
Set in the 1960s and 70s, at a time when India faced war on two fronts: Pakistan (1971) and Cholera, these aspects suggested a unique show was in the making. Alas, It Happened In Calcutta is the same old, done to death love story of college youngsters, Ronobir Chatterjee, a flamboyant and arrogant casanova, and Kusum Ganguly, of course, a nerdy gullible girl who falls for the bad boy.
The setting of war and Cholera, which was to make the love saga unique, is conspicuous by its absence. Whatever little the makers show of the India-Pakistan animosity, the rise of communists and Naxalites is absurd too.
Leave aside the setting of the web series, Karan Kundrra and Naghma Rizwan couldn’t bring alive the innocence and sweetness of romance of the 60s. Both of them fail to evoke any emotions, either of hate, love or sympathy, for their characters. Kundra’s bell-bottoms and long hair, and Rizwan’s umbrella cut sleeves did little to add to the authenticity of the show. While the supporting cast did nothing apart from existing, Harmanjeet Sinha as Ratan Bagchi was the most underplayed asset of the series.
Also, there is no Calcutta in It Happened in Calcutta. Rabindranath Tagore’s “Ekla Chalo Re”, Bengali names and a few dialogues in Bengali are not a real representation of the ‘City of Joy’. And the music, which I always thought was the USP of ALTBalaji shows, is borrowed from earlier shows on the platform.
Verdict: It Happened In Calcutta is a passable web series.
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