Film: 'Natobar Not Out (NNO)'; Directed by Amit Sen; Produced by Bunch of Buddies Entertainment Pvt Ltd; Cast: Mustafa Prokash, Raima Sen, Ananya Dutta, Kharaj Mukherjee, Ramaprasad Banik; Rating: **
With a recipe that has more than a dash of Rabindranath Tagore in it, you can't go wrong - not this year when his 150th birth anniversary celebrations are on. Or so you thought until debutant Bengali director Amit Sen's comedy 'Natobar Not Out (NNO)' came along.
You can, in fact, go horribly wrong if you haven't got your Tagore right. I mean, who doesn't know his august, incredibly handsome features? And who would care to see them distorted beyond recognition to distinctly ogre-ish ones while he speaks in a fake voice?
The technical team of 'Natobar Not Out' so messed up the pivotal Tagore moments in the film that it was left entirely to lead man Mustafa Prokash to salvage it.
To his credit, Prokash has tried his best. But clearly, the title role of Natobar sat too heavy upon the young Bangladeshi actor's shoulders, especially in the first film of his career. He was distinctly uncomfortable, boringly predictable and obviously working far too hard.
And so, even though he had the script on his side (Kamleshwar turned out a competent script that was clever in parts even if it had strong overtones of the laugh-out-loud 1974 Bengali comedy, 'Basanta Bilap'), Natobar was out cheaply after a long, stuttering innings at the crease.
The film centres around Natobar who is not much of a poet till Tagore visits him in his dream and gives him a boon. Suddenly, young Natobar is spewing poetry like the chimney in a busy factory and he lands a job as a copywriter in an advertising agency. Success gets to his head and in no time he is in serious trouble with creditors. But a twist in the tale saves Natobar from going further downhill and the films ends on a happy note.
Clearly, there is not much anyone can do in the film. Ramaprasad Banik's preposterous hamming contributes nothing to the cause of NNO.
This is not to say that there aren't some good performances in the film. Raima Sen is as competent as ever, even though she doesn't have too much to do. Saswata Chatterjee, Sudipa Basu and Kaushik Ganguly impress in small but significant roles.
Debojyoti Mishra's music is brilliant, whether it is in the lovely 'Megher palok chander nolok' - a remarkably well-shot dream sequence, thumbs up to Amit Sen's cinematography - or the fun title song.
In spite of some obvious strengths, the comedy leaves one cold. And makes one want to run back to 'Basanta Bilap' once more.
(16.11.2010 - Kathakali Jana can be contacted at email@example.com)