Review: Antaheen (The Endless Wait)
Cast: Rahul Bose, Radhika Apte, Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore and Kalyan Ray
Direction: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
The National Award winning Best Film, Antaheen (The Endless Wait) is undoubtedly one of the better ones to come from Bengal in recent years. In the post-Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen (with him probably too old and not fighting fit to make movies), Bengal, its cinema had slipped into a pit of populist crowd-pullers and poor copies of Bollywood fare. At one point of time, it appeared that the enormous responsibility of keeping alive Bengal’s rich heritage of motion pictures would fall on Buddhadeb Dasgupta. The scenario is not very different today, though Rituparno Ghosh and now Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury hold out hope, however faint it may seem.
Chowdhury presents a movie that is fascinatingly mounted and narrated through arresting images, his advertising background coming in handy here. But then, a string a great looking shots by itself is not enough to help a film reach a certain level of greatness. The story – by Chowdhury himself – is wafer thin and rather clichéd, and Shyamal Sengupta’s screenplay fails to either flesh it out or direct it towards a more realistic avenue.
Antaheen opens with a Bond-type of Kolkata cop, Avik (Rahul Bose), raiding a den of anti-socials and retrieving a huge cache of arms and ammunition. The movie cuts to a scene in a television studio where a local Barkha Dutt, Brinda, (Radhika Apte) is calling the shots. As she packs up her day’s programme on the raid, Roy Chowdhury pushes away her and Avik’s professional life to a corner, and engages them in a blind internet dating, a rather unlikely pastime for a celebrity police officer. As the narrative weaves through party circuits/social gatherings and a host of characters – including Avik’s aunt, essayed by Sharmila Tagore, and his brother, Ranjan (Kalyan Ray), drifting away from wife Paro and Brinda’s boss (Aparna Sen) – a canvas of relationships emerges. One of them is that of Avik and Brinda’s, who come close to each other in the real world, but without realising that they have been “virtual” partners as well. What follows is a kind of two timing, interesting, but reminiscent of Revathy’s Mitr, My Friend. Unfortunately, Roy Chowdhury does not quite explore this, and flits through a maze of situations and emotional entanglements that ultimately does not contribute to the plot.
What we are left with in the end is riveting shots of Kolkata, with some of them taken at night and from great heights, and they give an ethereal feel to the city. But take away Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography, the frames may well appear hollow. Performances are average, with veterans like Bose and Sen not quite up to the mark.