Bongo Byango, Sayak, and Dotthei, been specifically directed to—many wonderful Soumitra-related things, including his attempt at the twist, which is almost as hilarious as his equestrian and combat skills in Jhinder Bandi (but the music is great).*
As far as I can tell—which is perhaps not very far at all—this is a film about very little. It's two hours of girls vs. boys, and from the group meet-cute you know how it's going to end. (I did actually wonder if it wouldn't end as I expected, since I know nothing about popular Bengali cinema from the 70s and shouldn't make assumptions about what it does with meet-cutes, though this one does have lyrics like "you were near me but I didn't understand that you loved me" in its first ten minutes.) Aparna Sen is the leader of a group of friends at a girls' hostel,
and she is magnificently feisty. She's also modern, living on her own, holding down a job, and having a great time with her friends. If her parents are mentioned at all, I missed it. That's true of most of the young characters in this film; there's nothing made of what these people should be doing or whom they'll disappoint if they don't. How refreshing! The spat goes back and forth for a bit until we realize that three couples have formed between the warring sides, with people lying to their friends about whom they're meeting and what they've been up to, including visiting sick aunts who inconveniently turn up perfectly fine a few seconds later. Only Aparna and Soumitra (the leader of the group of the young men) are the holdouts, annoying each other at work, egging on retaliation, and refusing to compromise after the pranks get out of control.
It's quite possible that the novelty value of this film is so high for me that I liked it more than I would like a Bollywood iteration of the same story and songs. The jokes sometimes go on a bit too long or just don't seem all that funny (an angry fat man with a bucket on his head! Wowee!).
There is also an incident whose implications I do not understand: early on, Aparna pretends that Soumitra has flicked his cigarette butt onto the hem of her sari, and she tells him off in public, waggling her finger and saying she'll make a complaint and calling him an inconsiderate monkey (which is a great phrase in English, even if it's not a literal translation) as passers-by join in chastising him. He seems utterly devastated by this, coming back to his friends' house and going on about wanting to hang himself. They tease him a little say, "What did you do, wink at her? Winking's not a crime!" but eventually quieting down when they realize how upset he is. I have no idea why this rattles him so much; I don't think his family or colleagues were present, and he has been shown as a boisterous and impish guy, not the sort of shuffling, demure, upright type who might more easily be flummoxed by a bit of public scolding over something he didn't actually do. I think this incident is supposed to be his reasoning for refusing to make peace with the girls, so I wish it had made more sense or resonated emotionally. As is, he came off as moody and a bit hypocritical rather than legitimately wronged.
|This picture doesn't really go with anything. I just like it.|
* As is often true of the early stages of star infatuation, I saw something nasty on the Netflix, as Mrs. Starkadder would say. Do not, do not, do not watch The Bengali Night, even though it is available to stream and even though it stars Hugh Grant along with Shabana Azmi and Soumitra as the parents of Hugh's love interest. It is so very bad. The leads do an okay job, particularly the older ones and Hugh, but the side characters (Hugh's friends and neighbors) are horrendously, laughably performed, John Hurt's character is so irritating I wanted him dead from the moment he opened his mouth, and I never believed the romance for a second.