Review of “Gotro” – Entertainment combined with social message
Director – Shiboprosad Mukherjee & Nandita Roy
Cast – Anashua Majumdar, Nigel Akkara, Manali Manisha Dey, Kharaj Mukherjee, Saheb Chatterjee
Subtlety is the least expected thing from a movie directed by the duo Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy, every emotion in their films is supposed to be loud. Their latest offering Gotro is also not an exception. Many people now consider this style of film making as old fashioned but the truth is that , there is a huge section of audience who still enjoys this over the top emotions and that is proved again and again with each film made by the director duo. Their movies may not be appropriate for being featured in festivals but they know how to hold the attention of the masses using the old school film making technique. They are certainly the masters in this form.
The story is about an elderly woman Mukti Debi (Anashua Majumdar) who lives alone in her big house as her only son Anirban (Saheb Chatterjee) is settled in abroad. A local promoter Shakun Bapi (Kharaj Mukherjee) is eyeing on the property but Mukti Debi is reluctant to sell it. Anirban is worried about his mother and he wants to appoint a caretaker in the house to take care of his aged mother but none of the care takers could survive the strict rules set by Mukti Debi and they all quit the job. Anirban’s search for the suitable caretaker ends with Tareq Ali (Nigel Akkara), a former convict who was in jail for nine years and now wants to get back to normal life with a regular job to survive. Initially Tareq and Mukti Debi had some problems to accept each other but soon they develop a bond formed out of humanity. In fact Tareq becomes almost like a son to Mukti Debi. But it is never easy for them to get approval from the society for this inter religion relationship of a mother and son. How they will handle the pressure from the society and how humanity wins over the barriers of religion that forms the rest of the story.
There are some common ingredients in every Shiboprosad-Nandita film; a simple story over simplified for the audience, some relatable characters from our day to day life, an almost predictable screenplay from start to finish filled with loud comedy and manipulative emotional moments, some well intentioned messages, some socially relevant crisis which gets resolved very easily. All these ingredients are present in Gotro. Not all the comic or emotional moments of the film land perfectly but there are some moments that are very effective. For example, the monologue given by Mukti Debi about the practice of communal harmony in several parts of India or the scene when Tareq enters in the temple to offer Puja or the moment when Mukti Debi shares her emotions with Tareq Ali about how much she misses her son.
Also one must give credit to the makers for delivering a very relevant social message. In today’s time there are so much violence going on around us because of religious differences, in such a situation the film is spreading the message of communal harmony. It talks about how humanity is much bigger than any religion, caste or clan. This effort is praise worthy for sure. At the same time the film also highlights one more alarming issue of our society that is about the safety issues of aged people who are living alone away from their kids. Although the film does not provide any practical solution of this problem but it definitely raises awareness about it. In between this social messages and a dose of routine entertainment the film offers a little travelogue about some parts of Odisa along with paying tribute to the evergreen Oriya song Rangobati. This portion is quite refreshing.
Among the actors it is Anashua Majumdar who has steal the show with her wonderful act. She is one fine actress who is there for a long time but we must be thankful to windows Production house for rediscovering her talent and giving her opportunity to do something impactful in back to back movies. She is endearing in both her comic and emotional scenes. Nigel Akkara had made an impressive debut in movies seven years back with director duo Shiboprosad-Nandita but after that he was struggling for a perfect role that suits him. Finally his search has ended with Gotro. The character suits him well both physically and mentally. As an actor he has some limitations but the makers have smartly written the character to avoid those constraints. He is good for most of the part but he is weaker in the emotional scenes. Kharaj Mukherjee has done a good job as the antagonist who offers some good laugh also. Manali Manisha Dey has done over the top acting as the over energetic talkative girl next door Jhuma. Her character has nothing significant to do as her romantic track with Tareq is under baked. Also her dialogues where she refers herself as a third person sound very irritating although it is a fault on the part of dialogue writer Shiboprosad Mukherjee. Ambarish Bhaatacharya is too good as an actor to do such buffoonish comedy. He has been completely wasted in a thankless role.
There are more than required songs in the film and many of them does not add much to the narrative but the songs are good and well picturised, so it adds value to the entertainment quotient. Supriyo Dutta’s cinematography is of good standard and goes well with the simplicity of the plot and the characters. Art direction team has done a good job to give Mukti Debi’s ancestral home an authentic look and feel.
On a whole Gotro offers nothing new in terms of subject or film making style, but in spite of the predictable plot and preachy lectures the film succeeds to connect with the audience and gives a satisfactory experience.