The opening scene of this romantic drama set in Calcutta in the 1960s is enough to make you wonder, what happened between Ronobir and Kusum. As you ponder over the same, next you can hear is Ronobir telling us how everything started and how ‘It happened in Calcutta’.
‘It happened in Calcutta’ revolves around a charming casanova of Calcutta Medical College, Ronobir Chatterjee and the only female MBBS student in the college, Kusum Ganguly. These two are poles apart but as it goes, ‘Opposites Attract Each Other’, Kusum ends up falling for the guy she despises from the first day after seeing him getting intimate with a college faculty.
Set in 1960s-70s in ‘City of Joy’ Calcutta, the series tries to portray what the city looked like back then but fails to do so entirely. ‘It happened in Calcutta’ is all about evoking that retro feel be it through attire, music, parties or Ronobir’s shining red ambassador, but when it comes to showing Calcutta it is clearly invisible. It seems as if the city shown in the series lacks the beautiful Bengali culture.
The Calcutta depicted in the romantic drama is less Bengali in approach and more of a modernized interpretation of 'retro'. The same can also be said for girls in college who dress up like the heroines of the 70s. It seems as if Calcutta Medical College followed no dressing code for the students as well as faculties (Direct reference to Mrs. Johns who is seen in mini skirt in examination hall).
Pondering more on the setting of ‘It happened in Calcutta’, it feels like not only the city but there are many other aspects that seem to be far too modern than the timeline of the show. Back then when just using the word ‘sex’ was a taboo, Ronobir is seen advising Kusum whom he has just met to read Playboy magazines and explaining 'how good sex feels'.
This scenario seems far too ahead than the time the series is set in. Not only this but Ronobir and Kusum kissing in front of the entire college is also something that is not very 60s (or is it). A love saga set in 60s-70s should have a more mellowed approach, secret meetings between the couple, and hushed romantic moments. Blame us for being old fashioned, here.
A thing that truly deserves applause is the portrayal of Ronobir Chatterjee and Naghma Rizwan as well as other characters. Karan is simply fantastic as Ronobir Chatterjee. Be it his charm that melts Kusum to such an extent that she cannot help falling in love with the Casanova of the college, or his cute face that he makes for Sujata (Simran Kaur).
Naghma on the other hand has nailed her character of a staunch feminist who is not afraid to voice out her opinions in an age when women were suppressed for their entire lives. Kusum can be seen matching her shoulders with other male MBBS students and standing alone as the only female MBBS student in Calcutta Medical College.
Another character that is worth mentioning is that of Sujata (Simran Kaur) who has been in love with Ronobir since her childhood and leaves no chance to prove that. Simran lives the character to the fullest and can be seen disheartened after seeing Kusum and Ronobir together, later being happy for Ronobir when he meets her parents and doing everything a girl in love does or can do.
‘It happened in Calcutta’ is certainly much more than a love saga. What happens between Ronobir and Kusum after nine years is what will leave the viewers experience a mix of emotions. The cast of the series definitely steal the show. The tracks Sukoon and Ekla Chalo Re work amazingly well owing to the plot and timeline of the series.
The series may lack in depicting Calcutta in best possible way but it definitely proves to be well carved love story set amidst war and epidemic in 60s-70s’.