ABHIMAAN (2012) Bengali Film Review – IT’S A ‘PERIOD’ FILM
“There are instances when a woman goes through various tough situations in life and at that point of time she expects her husband, her life partner to understand and be supportive. Just because the man in this society has an upper hand, a woman is put on the wrong side for no fault of hers. This has been happening since years and still prevails in our modern society. Shouldn’t this stop?” This is the blurb in the press hand-out carrying the director’s statement. But the film does not quite carry this out due to the massive lapses in logic and contradictory statements.
Produced by: Apurba Production Pvt. Ltd
Story, Script & direction: Debanik Kundu
DOP: Sandip Sen
Art Director: Amit Chatterjee
Lyrics: Chiranjit Basu
Cast: Arpita Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee, Akash Das Nayak, Sumantra Mukherjee, Bodhisatya Majumder , Sudeshna Roy and others.
Ananya (Arpita Chatterjee), a much celebrated television journalist on a leading channel, opts for an arranged marriage. The husband (Akash Das Nayak) is tall, fair, handsome and understanding. He agrees to consummate the marriage after they have known and understood each other. On the morning following the phool sajja, Ananya has to report to duty. Her husband says he will pick her up at an appointed place somewhere near Park Circus. But when Ananya sets out, she is caught in the midst of a communal riot triggered by writer Tasleema Nasreen’s presence in Kolkata. Her husband on his way to pick her up, cannot enter the riot-stricken area. Ananya is rescued by no-nonsense pickpocket and small-time thief, Siraj (Parambrata Chatterjee) who takes her to his make-shift garage-cum-shelter. Ananya is panicky but is stopped from stepping out by this young man.
Problems arise when Ananya suddenly discovers that she had got her periods and is not carrying ‘protection.’ She requests Siraj to fetch sanitary napkins for her. The area is under curfew so Siraj comes back empty-handed. That is why this is a ‘period’ film. The next morning, Ananya insists, despite his requests to the contrary, to accompany her to her marital home so that she can introduce him to her family as the man who has saved her life. Her reception by her husband and his family and the relatives who have come for the wedding and stayed back is shocking. They suspect that her virginity has been compromised by her overnight stay with this Muslim boy. She attempts suicide and is rushed to a nursing home. When her husband, his mother and sister come to fetch her, she refuses to go back to a home that disowned and discarded her out of false suspicion in her critical hour of support and understanding.
The strong and positive climax of Abhiman is severely undercut by the almost feudal story that leads up to the climax. The beginning which is a long and overdrawn prelude to the marriage looks out of a ‘period’ film and an imitation of the soaps and serials we are tortured with everyday.
Ananya is a celebrity and a very familiar face. When the channels are telecasting the scene of the riots, it is surprising that the respective families of Ananya, her passive parents and her concerned in-laws, who see the riots and the firing, do not spot her when the screen shows the audience that she is being captured by television cameras. Television journalists always carry their identity cards with them. Had Ananya simply flashed her identity card at the riot police force, they would have taken her at once to a safe and secure place. Besides, some of them would have recognized her and done the needful. No one knows why she had asked her husband to pick her up from Park Circus. None of these happens in the film. Ideologically, the director takes great care to preserve the virginity of his protagonist in the 21st century which dilutes the strong climax. That is why we can call it a ‘period’ film. The ‘period’ in the garage was necessary to make the in-laws suspect her.
There is a needlessly long television interview of a former minister taken by Ananya which has no place in the film except swallowing needless footage and time or perhaps trying to please the then-party-in-power. It is a pity that the film released when the reins of power had changed. There is a dream scene of the newly married pair dancing and singing on the phool sajja night instead of doing what normal couples do. The thief wears Converse shoes and a branded, red, chequered shirt which looks very stylish.
The sole saving grace is when Ananya and Siraj share conflicting emotional moments in that decrepit garage. Abhimaan moves to a higher plane during this phase highlighted by Parambrato’s good performance but inconsistent enunciation of words. Ananya fantasising about being raped by the thief is a bit too much. Arpita as Ananya tries her best to inject some life in the character but the script fails her badly. Akash Das Nayak as Ananya’s husband is just a block of wood who wears a fixed expression on his face from start to finish. The rest of the cast have little to contribute except being sweet and syrupy or cruel and unforgiving in turns. Ananya’s parents seem less concerned that her in-laws.
The technical credits are hardly worth mention and stock footage is used for the Park Circus riot scenes. The delay in the film’s release is evident in the quality and in the looks of the lead actors.