Ashdoc's movie review---A death in the Gunj

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Ashdoc's movie review---A death in the Gunj

Post by ashdoc on Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:24 pm

This english language film made by Bollywood is set in the hill station of McCluskieganj in what was then the Indian state of Bihar in the year 1979 . Now McCluskieganj is in the state of Jharkhand , after Bihar was bifurcated later . The film is set among the Anglo Indian community , that is descendants of Britishers who had married Indians . 

The main striking point of the Anglo Indian community as shown in the movie is the boldness of the women , at least relative to those times . When the position of Indian women was backward in 1979 , the women are shown smoking and drinking and dancing and flirting with men and even having premarital sex in one case . They wear western clothes denied to most Indian women in those times . 

The season is winter , and cold is beginning to set in McCluskieganj at least during the night . The pleasant weather and natural beauty of the surroundings gives a relaxed feel to some scenes . Like always , I want nothing to happen in such a bounty of nature . But the name of the movie and the start of the movie ( in which a dead body is being transported ) does give indication that something is about to happen . 

From the name of the movie one thinks that it is a murder mystery , and the impending suspicion that a murder is going to happen does hang over the proceedings . But the movie moves in a different direction--it shows a young man called Shutu ( played by Vikrant Massey ) being harassed and made to feel small by the others in the assembled group . 

Shutu is thin and has failed in his exams and has just lost his father , but receives no sympathy from most of the group except two persons . Instead he is bullied by the character played by Ranvir Shorey , who plays a prank on Shutu in what is supposed to be a planchette and even physically bruises him in a sport . The whole film has this thread , and frankly it is not pleasant to watch . Shutu becomes the centre of the film and all attention of events is focused on him in the movie .

Ironically , in the minds of the characters assembled in the movie the importance of Shutu becomes less and less as the movie progresses . In the middle of the movie he is important to a little girl called Tani . She likes his company and his reserved studious nature and hangs out with him all the time , feeling sad that others belittle him . 

But soon Shutu gains the attention of the slut of the movie , played by Kalki Koechlin . She has an extra marital affair going on with Ranvir Shorey , but he soon brings his wife there . In a fit of jealousy Kalki has a brief affair with Shutu , which includes sex . She looks good in exposing clothes and skirts , and acts well . But the little girl Tani gets angry with Shutu as he begins to ignore her company in the heat of the affair with Kalki . 

There are others in the movie like Gulshan Devaiah , Tanuja , Om Puri and Jim Sarbh . They as a whole form a boisterous lot , enjoying life to the full . But they make the perfidy of not realising how Shutu must be feeling . 

The crisis of the movie occurs when the little girl Tani goes missing , and you think that this must be the murder....but she is found later . But in the search Shutu goes missing too , and no one misses him because Tani is found . Later Kalki too tires of him and Tani is still sore with him . Life has no meaning anymore for Shutu as the two people who gave him some importance too forget him . 

The end of the movie becomes all too clear at this point , but it also seems meaningless . What does the director want to say , that people in the position of Shutu should end their lives ? That they should not try to improve or better their lowly position ? That they have no hope ? The critics are praising the film ( which is why I went to see it ) but as an ordinary person I could not make sense of the ending . 

Of course , the critics may be crowing because acting by Vikrant Massey is simply superb as Shutu . Every expression on his face and body conveys how he feels . Everybody else acts well too , and the pace of the movie is leisurely . Background music is okay , but the colours of the film are not great though photography improves as the movie progresses . 

Verdict---okay .

Two and a half stars .


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