Starring: Konkona Sen Sharma, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Soumitra Chatterjee
Director: Gautam Ghose
Every sensitive artist worth his medium seems to feel compelled to give you his version of Maoism: his own nuanced, even sympathetic, exploration of the compulsions driving the rebels, without ever fully endorsing the violence involved. For Gautam Ghose it is a pet topic; his Kaalbela (2009) dealt with it. Obviously, there are expectations of a more complex handling of the theme from a veteran like Ghose. It turns out to be the familiar tale of corporate greed triggering armed resistance. Ghose almost unapologetically scrapes the surface by not bothering to delve deeper, and limits himself to delineating what we already know: that the Maoist rebellion is really a byproduct of the nation’s and corporations’ hunger to grab minerals (bauxite, in this case) from tribals, even when it means large-scale destruction of forests and the devastation of people who inhabit it.
A journalist (Konkona) is embedded with the Maoists. She has a crush on a married CEO (Priyanshu), who is torn between duty and conscience. The subplots juggle an assortment of meandering themes (companionship, communalism...) that serve to alleviate the central conflict, but also introduce a plethora of superfluous and didactic dialogue and literary allusions.
The film’s strength is its simplicity. In fact, it articulates one simple question which sums up the struggle at the core of it all, asked by the journalist of the CEO: ‘Why not just leave the bauxite in the mountain?’
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