11 June, 2016

TE3N : South Korea to Kolkata, not much lost in translation

Kolkata is the new city of montages for the new age Hindi cinema. Look at the recent ones that have gone across our viewfinders and you shall get at what I am talking about. Kahani, Byomkesh Bakshy, Piku and now we have Te3n. 

No other city with the exception of Bombay actively interjects itself into the cast and script so wilfully like Kolkata making it special.

Te3n produced by Sujoy Ghosh and finding shape under the directorial baton of Ribhu Dasgupta is a good looking dark film. It is based on the South Korean film Montage and is officially a remake, with the copyright purchased. South Korean cinema has had unmentioned remakes earlier like the Sanjay Dutt starrer Zinda made from Oldboy. It is a different kind of cinema the South Korean one, and adapting it into the Indian ethos and milieu is a serious challenge. Ribhu Dasgupta has done a stellar job at this.

It all begins with a bang and an accident in sepia frames and the movie narrates itself 8 years later. John Biswas (Bacchhan, after Piku is officially now a screen Bengali, so natural is he at it )  loses a grand-daughter to a kidnapping and murder and is hounding the police for every single day of his eight years. The now cop in charge Vidya Balan, has empathy but no solution for the justice sought. The then veteran cop Martin in charge has also experienced the same deep rooted trauma of the crime and changes professions at the juncture of failure to become a priest. No clues are forthcoming and the case is stagnant and plateaued until a chance encounter with a baby girl unravels a thread for John. And while the thread unravels, there is a fresh crime. The MO is the same and the new cop seeks out the priest and his past expertise as a cop to crack the case. It’s a leisurely paced movie plot that deliberately tumbles itself towards a conclusion. Does John find justice, Do the police crack the cases form the fulcrum on which this plot is hinged.

The three back stories of the characters are neatly weaved in with some ends left deliberately or inadvertently open. There are more stories that intersperse and take over the narrative and make the plot more involved and complicated. 

Superb performances from Bacchhan and Sabhyasachi Chakraborty. Sabhyasachi is now finding himself as a default prop in every film that has Kolkata. 

Vidya Balan looks like a Mallu Chechi and tries to act like a young modern Bengali Bowdi who is also a cop. Someplace the cracks show up in the characterization and not in her performance. Same is the case with Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Father Martin. He is good but it is tough to digest him as the padre while easier as the padre who reverts to his cop giri. 

The camera is the final star who creates the ultimate Montage for Te3n and Kolkata shines through in its structural grandness, its fading and populated lively colourful milieu. The music is hummed prose lyrically metered by Amitabh Bhattacharya and set to tune by Clinton Cerejo. The music is unobtrusive, stays in the background and deepens the colour tone of the movie.

The pace of the movie is all Kolkata. It is languorous, slow, deliberate and garrulous sometimes more so in parts where one wishes for silence. 

This movie drives home the point that a new narrative flavour is definitely taking root in Hindi Cinema. This is seriously a welcome change.

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