Review of “Nagarkirtan” – Love beyond all social barriers
Director – Kaushik Ganguly
Cast – Ritwick Chakraborty, Riddhi Sen, Bidipta Chakraborty, Manabi Bandopadhyay, Shankari Mondal
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
Many directors have made movies about a woman trapped in a man’s body, about same sex relationships, about transgenders but Kaushik Ganguly’s Nagarkirtan combines all these topics efficiently in a sweet love story. Pure love of two innocent people who do not care about any social barriers.
The story is about Puti/Parimal (Riddhi Sen) and Madhu (Ritwick Chakraborty). Parimal is a woman trapped in a man’s body. Neither his family nor the people around him is ready to accept this as a result his immature mind leads him to a group of transgenders. There he transform into Puti and joined the gang of transgenders who normally beg at signals for livelihood. Madhu is a delivery boy at a Chinese restaurant who occasionally performs as a flute player also in a local Kirtan group. Both Madhu and Puti belongs to middle class families of small towns. They are not familiar with the concepts of sexual orientation, same sex love, sex change operation, they only know that they love each other and want to spend their life together no matter whether their love gets acceptance or not. This innocence and immaturity of these two characters makes this love story more sweet and different from other same sex love stories. The good thing about the story is that it never puts stress on the fact that this is an unconventional love story rather it has been treated like any other love story of two people where there is love as well as obstacles too.
The screenplay unfolds in a non-linear format in both the halves. In the first half we see the past and present of Puti and Madhu in parallel. One track shows how they meet and one track shows how they elope to settle down with each other. By the time the first half ends there comes some questions about the family background of both Puti and Madhu. That answers comes in the second half again in past and present format. The past shows the flashbacks of Puti’s family when he was Parimal and the present shows Madhu’s family in Nabadweep. This non-linear story telling format works very well in the film and editor Shubhajit Singha has worked efficiently with this format in both the halves. Besides telling a love story the story also highlights many important socially relevant issues but without being too loud which is commendable. It highlights the hardships that transgenders have to go through everyday in our society. In a smartly written scene, the film talks about the negativity spread all over in social media where people do not raise voice against injustice rather they record it on mobile and spread it all over. Also hats off to Kaushik ganguly for bringing up the mythological reference of Mahaprabhu Chaitanya in the context of the story.
Kaushik Ganguly is a master story teller and he has proved it again and again but Nagarkirtan will remain one of the best works in his whole career as a director. His authentic representation of the world of transgenders is praise worthy. In fact He has taken the risk to cast many non actor transgenders to play the supporting characters to give it the realistic feel and he has extracted wonderful performances from them.
Undoubtedly the entire film rests on the broad shoulders of the two extremely talented actors in the lead Riddhi Sen and Ritwick Chakraborty. Riddhi Sen has not acted at all rather he has transformed himself into Puti. The makeup and costume team has helped him a lot in this and they do deserve their due credit. The good thing about Riiddhi’s portrayal of Puti is he has never tried to act as female rather he has just bring out the feminine side of a man. In fact he has not tried to mimic like a girl, he has used his own voice in changed tone only. Not only as Puti he has shown his brilliance as Parimal as well, in the flashback sequences. There is an emotional breakdown scene when his lover is getting married to someone else and he is just outstanding in the scene.There is no doubt he deserved the national award for his excellent performance. Rittwick Chakraborty has wonderfully supported Riddhi. He is definitely the best actor of current generation in Bengali movies and he has proved that yet again. The way his character goes through a transformation regarding his feelings for Puti that has reflected very well in his expressions. He is complete natural actor and acts convincingly in his part no matter whatever character he is playing. Both Ritwick and Riddhi has shared an amazing chemistry. Other than these two Shankari Naskar is effective as the leader of the team of transgenders and Bidipta Chakraborty is very impressive in her limited screen time.
On a whole Nagarkirtan is a collaborative effort of a dedicated and efficient cast and crew. It is a must watch at least once. Even it can be watched several times just to see the two brilliant actors in the lead.