A newly married couple arrives in Calcutta in the midst of Kali Pooja festivities; the same moody, humid Calcutta we see in every frame. She is an orphan, he is a pimp. He has taken advance payment from two parties for the “virgin” girl, and in the ensuing tension, gets murdered, while she is locked up in a lodge room. A “Calcutta News” (tv channel) reporter who had spotted the couple before, follows the dead body and finds the girl. From that moment, his mobile phone camera follows her helplessness in the dark, grey and bright sides of life. Blessy’s fourth movie and S Kumar’s camera follows the “Calcutta News” reporter for one year to deliver malayalam’s finest Calcutta movie with breathtaking visuals, a little bit of Tagore and a whole lot of rambling.
Story: The above with Meera Jasmine and Dileep in the lead, plus black magic, ghosts, media activism and “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” (some psychology kitsch, hate it, best part is the psychologist with so much of fluttering hair and beard can go as a lunatic too). Everything ends unconvincingly well like Om Shanti Om.
1. Child molestation, Alzheimers, prostitution rackets. There is kitsch, though we don’t talk about it in parties. Blessy shows the guts, movie after movie to talk about subjects which are difficult to handle and impossible to entertain with. The dark and depressing side of the city, where women get sold, bought and used in the hundreds, houses of pleasure,looted caravans of life. One could argue that there were several movies on this subject, I am wondering which was the last in Malayalam? There is a viewpoint that Blessy is typecast, but an auto driver told me in the morning that malayalam cinema badly needs his types. Seems there is no one else left.
2. The cinematography and the songs. S Kumar’s camera work delivers Calcutta for the malayalam audience. The trams, the rain, Hoogly, the dirt of Calcutta, the slime and the humidity are interwoven as if in a collage of contrast. The songs are nice, especially the prayer song which pretty much sums up the idea of the movie.
1. Script and Story: After a convincing first half, the script loosens and finally falls off. Blessy has attempted to say a lot – romance, helplesness, ghosts, psychology, power of the media. It’s good he knows about all these things, it would have been better if he put them in separate movies. I haven’t seen “Palunku”, but otherwise “Calcutta News” will be at the bottom of the Blessy list. And seems it is a very costly movie.
2. Intensity: When you talk about very sensitive subjects like this, there is a chance that the audience starts thinking and gets distracted. Only way to avoid that is to make the movie intense. Kamal’s “Mahanadi” remains THE example, by making one literally weep with the human bondage side while tackling issues like urbanization and prostitution in the background. Blessy’s “Kaazcha” has a scene where Mammootty rescues the refugee kid from the river and hugs him crying, while rest of the characters crowd around his daughter, disinterested. One scene which removes any emotional gap that the audience has with the characters. “Calcutta News” falls flat here, the romance is nice and breezy, but the overall scheme needs more intensity. We really don’t know what the characters are feeling.
3. Dileep, ah the same. Meera Jasmine is the best we have, but looks like she’s walked straight in from “Ore Kadal”, she is acting innocent and we know that.
Verdict: Deserves to be an average hit, but given the audience reaction will most probably exit in a month. Big ticket releases like “Roudram”, “Boot” and “College Kumaran” will probably ruin it for Blessy and heck there is nothing for a family audience (that lowest IQ crowd or so the producers say). Expectations from a Blessy, Ranjith or Roshan Andrews movie will generally be high, and “Calcutta News” doesn’t get anywhere near. Call it a Flop.