Review: If You’re A Millennial, ‘Shonar Pahar’ Has A Message For You
Most people who’ve watched actor-director Parambrata Chattopadhyay’s latest venture Shonar Pahar will tell you that if it’s a “definite watch” for a particular age bracket, it is older people.
As a millennial in a hall full of...well...not many millennials, I’d say that I Iearnt a lot more about our generation from the movie than I did about the generations of its two protagonists – 70-year-old Upama (Tanuja) and 7-year-old Bitlu. Shonar Pahar is what happens, when both, abandoned by life and their loved ones, discover the millennial world together.
Septuagenerian Upama lives a lonely life in her huge, ancestral house, with her domestic help for company. Her relationship with her only son Soumya (Jishu Sengupta) is evidently strained and she is not too fond of her daughter-in-law either.
In a chance meeting with Soumya’s friend Rajdeep (Parambrata), who runs an NGO, Upama agrees to house an orphan for a few hours everyday.
Played by Srijato Bandopadhyay, this character is probably director Parambrata’s biggest achievement in the film. On a scale of Mastaan to Bere paka, Bitlu is right in the middle.
Adorable, but you know if he were in your house, he’d be quite a handful.
“Opposite” him is the steely, independent Upama, essayed with nuance and grit by Tanuja. A less than favourable start between the two ends up developing into an unusual bond. Upama relives her son’s childhood through Bitlu and the two of them go on a journey to the hidden treasure in the Shonar Pahar – a journey Upama had abandoned earlier.
Tanuja delivers an awe-inspiring performance. From the beginning to the end of the movie, one can actually see the steeliness in her eyes soften as she becomes friends with Bitlu.
The movie is full of moments that manage to simultaneously make you smile and feel rather sad. Like when Upama admits to Bitlu that she’s never been to a fancy restaurant. Or, when Bitlu quite casually says that they (Upama and her help) can’t hit him because he has AIDS. It is Tanuja’s weary but bright smiles and Bitlu’s effortless impishness that hold the movie together.
For a movie which seemed very effortlessly paced, the climax seemed to come too soon and without too measured a build-up. I hated Soumya throughout the movie, and his character wasn’t really portrayed as one who’d come around so quickly. I expected the moment when mother and son connected over Shonar Pahar to be a little more nuanced – magical, maybe.
When there’s a choice to make between your mother and your partner, it seems impossible to work with an ageing parent.
All in all, Shonar Pahar had its frayed ends, but if you’re a millennial, you MUST watch it. You’d probably still be out partying till 2 am, but after the movie, you’ll also hopefully understand why it gives your Mum sleepless nights.
Oh and also, don’t forget to give her a very tight hug!