Review of “Uma” – An emotionally charged film that salutes humanity
Director – Srijit Mukherji
Cast – Jisshu Sengupta, Anjan Dutt, Sara Sengupta, Srabanti, Rudranil Ghosh, Anirban Bhattacharya, Sayantika
Overall Rating – 4/5
It is often observed that movies are inspired from our society. Director Srijit Mukherji’s latest film Uma is one such film which is inspired by a real incident. In the year 2015, the localities of St George, Ontario, had recreated Christmas in October to fulfill the last wish of a 7 year old kid Evan Leversage. The little kid was suffering from a terminal disease and he was not supposed to survive till December to watch actual Christmas. It was a huge example of humanity when so many people came together for the shake of an unknown kid only to gift him some happiness. This was the key factor about the incident that inspired Srijit Mujherji to tell this story to his audience. That’s why Uma is not just a story of a father and daughter, it is much more than that. It is a big salute to humanity.
In this story Srijit, has changed the mother son equation of the real incident to a father daughter relationship.Christmas has been changed to Durga Puja and Canada has been shifted to Kolkata. Uma (Sara Sengupta) lives in Switzerland with her father Himadri Sen (Jisshu Sengupta). Her mother Menoka (Sayantika Banerjee) had left them long ago to settle down with her lover. Uma has never been to India but she has heard stories of Kolkata and Durga Puja celebration, from her father. It’s her biggest wish to see Durga Puja in Kolkata at least once in her life. But she is suffering from cancer and has not much time left. When Himadri comes to know about her health condition, he decides to fulfil her wish of seeing Durga Puja at any cost. Uma may not survive till October, so as a solution Himadri decides to recreate a fake Durga Puja in April. For that he takes help from a production manager Gobindo (Rudranil Ghosh) and a director Bramhananda Chakraborty (Anjan Dutt) so that they can recreate a fake Durga puja just like they do in movies. In the real incident in Canada there was no involvement of filmmakers, but being a filmmaker himself Srijit has added this angle which looks very convincing. It’s true filmmakers are the person who can create an illusion which is too close to reality. Bramhananda has his own back story, he is a failure in both his professional and personal life. Taking Himadri’s project, he want to give a last chance to the storyteller inside him. At the same time he wants to help Himadri in fulfilling his daughter’s wish, as he had failed to live up to the expectations of his son. He along with his technical team not only recreates Puja but also brings a fake mother (Srabanti Chatterjee) too for Uma who will act as her real mother Menoka. If Uma has arrived from hills to Kolkata for Durga Puja, then there must be a Mahishasur too. Here he is as Mohitosh Sur (Anirban Bhattacharya), a fundamentalist who can go to any extent to stop this fake Puja celebration. As per him its against religious practices. But as expected negative powers have to surrender to positivity.
The story, screenplay and dialogues written by Srijit himself is wonderful. There are different tracks which have been merged skillfully. Most of the character has been given good enough scope. The way Srijit has linked mythology with the story by using mythological names for the characters is commendable. There are some heavy melodramatic scenes which are too manipulative to bring tears but that is acceptable. In fact there are some scenes that will remain with you for long time. Like the scene in a hospital featuring Anjan Dutt with Manoj Mitra (In a wonderful cameo). In between the emotional over dose there are few comic relief too specially the one revolving around film making process. But that does not mean that there are no flaws in the script. Of course there are some points that are not easy to digest. Each and everyone will doubt if three big budget Puja can be constructed in just 3 days. Also if someone is coming to see Durga Puja in Kolkata, pandel hopping will be definitely in checklist, how one can forget that point and think about it in last moment. Moreover there is a sudden heart change of a local goon which looks very much forced, it could have been handled in a better way. The Bishorjon scene in Babughat was self explanatory that it wanted to show the humane side of the city dwellers, may be the spoon feeding of the message was not required in the end by using a voice over of Srabanti.
As a director Srijit Mukherji has nothing left to prove. Through this film he has made this point clear that he is a storyteller and he will continue telling stories close to his heart. Some may like, some may dislike but he will carry on making films for his audience. In the film he has wonderfully recreated a fake Durga Puja which is not an easy task. We have seen recreation of Durga Puja in many movies earlier but those were recreation of real Durga Puja so everything should look perfect. But in Uma, the Puja should look a fake one which is near to perfection and you will get that feeling while watching the film. Srijit Mukherji has done that task effortlessly.
Just like the talented technical team Bramhananda has in the film, Srijit too have a strong technical team beside him who had helped him to represent his vision on big screen. The art direction team is in terrific form to recreate all puja decorations and panadals with such perfection. They have beautifully created three theme Pandals too. Soumik Halder has crated magic with his cinematography one more time. The way he has captured the landscapes of Switzerland that is a visual treat. Neel Dutt has successfully gave us the feeling of Durga Puja with his background score, specially the beats of Dhaak. Editor Pronoy Dasgupta could have worked better to reduce the length of the film by few minutes. The scene at Babughat is little over stretched and it must have been trimmed a bit. Bramhananda’s flashback story has been told twice, once through the song Ure Jaak and second time through dialogues. It could have been told once only.
Srijit Mukherji is a master of handling a large ensemble cast and extracting good performances from each actor. We have experienced that earlier in many multi-starers directed by him. Even the actors in cameos left impression. Like Babul Supriyo, Manoj Mitra, Gargee Roychowdhury, Sumit Samaddar, they have left impression in their brief apperances. Plus there is some comic appearance by three directors who has made spoof on their own work. Also Srijit has kept the best cameo for himself which is a big surprise. Although the cameos by few superstar in the pre climax sequence adds nothing. By that time little Uma has already win our hearts so no one bothers about superstar’s presence.
Among the lead cast Jisshu Sengupta is in brilliant form. The helplessness of a father whose only kid is about to die, is very much visible through his performance. Anjan Dutt has given one of his career best performances as the looser who is desperate to give a last try to his life. Sara Sengupta has made a confident debut. She has acting in her genes and she has proved that with her natural performance. She is very natural and in sync with the age of her character. It’s neither too childish nor too mature. Rudranil Ghosh rarely get chance to perform good character in movies. Mostly he is wasted in loud comic character. But in Uma he has successfully managed to bring both smiles and tears. Srabanti Chatterjee shines in her limited screen time. Anirban Bhattacharya is brilliant in a character much older than his real age. He is one of the finest actors of next generation and has proved that once again. Sayantika Banerjee has very little to do. Probably she has spend more time on promotion for the film than shooting. But even in that brief appearance she is much better than most of her mainstream films where she plays just an eye candy besides her macho heroes.
Another plus point about the film is the melodious songs composed by Anupam Roy. The way the songs have been used in the film that goes very well with the narrative. Every song is situational and perfectly in sync with the moment. The songs are already hit before the release of the film but the effect enhances more after hearing those songs in the film.
Overall Uma is the most emotional film made by Srijit Mukherji so far. It has been made with true emotions, thats why the audience feel connected with it overlooking the small flaws. May be there are so much negativity around us, may be people have became more self centered but still humanity is alive somewhere hidden within us. We need movies like Uma to remind us that.