Written by Manisha Lakhe on September 21, 2018
3 Stories: 2 Blah, 1 Superb
Three stories from the North East part of India will try and help you understand the unique social and political place they hold in the universe. The first one tackles how political insurgents are kidnapping young girls and boys, the second story is about drug use and the temptation of easy money. The third one though outshines the other two and should have been a standalone film. It’s about elephant poachers. The first two stories then look trite and unwatchable.
The ploy of getting you to watch three stories from the far away North East corner of the country is not new. They even have guns in each of the stories to sort of give them a reason of being bunged together as one film. Fair enough.
The first story has Indraneil Sengupta driving through the North East, stops to pee and discovers that a young girl with a foul mouth and a gun is asking him to drive fast and straight ahead. We learn how she was kidnapped and forced to kill. He is kind to her and she is grateful and before you know it, he has just dropped her off on the street in the middle of the night. The end is rather abrupt and makes the story pointless.
The second story is even more predictable. Donnie drops out of college and deals drugs at clubs and parties to make money. His mother waits for him to come every night at the dining table and nags him to get himself a proper job like all other young men in the neighborhood. But he does not listen and is fascinated by a gun. He learns new tricks to deal drugs and even learns to smuggle and his boss gives him the gun. One night he dies because there are other men who don’t like him posing with the gun. His long suffering mother then takes refuge at the temple.
It’s the third story that is brilliant. A poor grass cutter Mukhtar (played with mind-blowing ease by Subrat Dutta) wastes all his money in going ganja and in alcohol. He is offered a whole lot of money to kill, and is told there is money for his assistant also. Poverty forces him to find a partner for the killing. The partner is a mute chap called Ikram (brilliantly played by Nalneesh), who conveys more by gestures and his expressions than dialog. These two are set up by a ‘boss’ to poach elephants and are given more money than they have ever seen. Their stakeout in the jungle, their avoiding electrified fences in the forest, their drunken celebration and their complete amoral involvement in the poaching is shown so simply and beautifully that you watch are afraid for them when the elephant chases one. You smile when Mukhtar’s wife complains about him and yet is a wonderful wife (again, played marvelously by Amrita Chattopadhyay), and like how she complains about not having any new clothes… This story is streets ahead of the other two. Could have been a standalone film all on its own.
(This review appears on www.nowrunning.com)