Film: 'Chowrasta - Crossroads of Love'; Director: Anjan Dutt; Cast: Victor Bannerjee, Roopa Ganguly, Atul Kulkarni, Naved Aslam and Aparajita; Rating: **
In all the films made by director Anjan Dutt, there are three things in common. Firstly the characters are mostly Bengali and the spoken language is a mix of English and Bengali, secondly, there are dialogues and more dialogues in each of the scenes, making the narrative quite verbose. And lastly, his films are made for a niche audience.
The kind of audience that starts applying their brains and begins analysing the film scene after scene and build its own assessment or interpretation of the various metaphors.
The metaphor in this case is 'Chowrasta' which not just happens to the be the name of the film, but also a real life location in the picturesque town of Darjeeling.
It is a large, open, asphalted area near the top of Darjeeling and is surrounded by shops, restaurants and small pony stables. A hub which is not just a good place to sit and relax but also ideal for a leisurely walk around a perfect setting.
Well, the film is not that perfect.
It is a serious drama, which sees four stories coming together on this 'chowrasta'. 'Oh ok', one says to oneself, 'so this one is yet another instance of parallel stories arriving at a single point after traversing different walks of life.'
And among the four stories, one sees Victor Bannerjee, who is lamenting his wife's death, a couple (Aparajita and Naved Aslam) that has eloped and is now wondering whether it was all worth it.
Then there is a middle-aged actress played by Roopa Ganguly, who has her own troubles to be taken care of and tries to find solutions in the town, only to see her problems aggravate further. And lastly there is Atul Kulkarni, a terrorist on the run, who comes up with yet another convincing performance.
Not that these stories aren't interesting; they do make for a reasonable watch. It's just that after entering a theatre, one would want to watch something that cannot find much justification if seen on the television screen. Also, there has to be a cinematic appeal about a film because watching 'Chowrasta' gives an impression of watching a short story, which may well have been caught on TV.
In the recent past, Darjeeling has become a focal point for many movies being made in India and abroad. 'Via Darjeeling', a murder mystery starring Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon and 'The Darjeeling Limited', an adventure drama starring Owen Wilson, Adrien and Jason Schwartzman and Irrfan Khan, are two such films that come to mind.
Well, the fact is none of the two movies made any impression at the box office. The result can't be expected to be any different for 'Chowrasta', which is also set in the same town.
Nevertheless, talking about the film's prospects, it ultimately settles down to be an outing for a niche audience and in the process truly alienates a regular popcorn munching junta which loves its regular dose of entertainment. The result? None of director Anjan Dutt's earlier efforts like 'Bada Din', 'The Bong Connection' and 'Bow Barracks Forever' have worked outside Kolkata.
Chances are quite high that the story will only repeat itself for 'Chowrasta' as well.