Hothat Sedin (Bangla)

A damp squib

Produced and directed by: Basu Chatterjee

Story: Manu Bhandari

Music: Debjit Roy

Cast: Firdous Ahmed, Ridhima Ghosh, Abhiraj, Nipun, Kuntala Mukherjee, Sonia Mukherji, Subrata Ganguli, Prosenjit Deb, Sanjay Adhikari and Gunjan Ganguli

Basu Chatterjee's film Rajanigandha, made in the seventies was a path-breaking film. In an effort to recreate its magic, Chatterjee, now in his eighties, decided to make a Bengali version of Rajanigandha. But over these four decades, the entire cultural matrix of urban India and its people has changed dramatically. Chatterjee is either caught in a time-warp that dates back 38 years, or he has not been able to recognise the all round changes globalisation has brought in. The audience too, has changed. The definition of a 'good' film and a 'bad' film is subjective, volatile and fluid. So, though Hatath Sedin is a frame-to-frame duplication in Bengali of the Hindi Rajanigandha, the actors are trapped in portraying characters, expressing relationships, wearing dresses and spouting dialogue they neither believe in nor belong to.

Young academic researchers no longer wear the sari or smile demurely at their boyfriend. And the bunch of rajanigandha flowers he brings each time to compensate for his delay is passé. The only change Chatterjee makes is in shifting the locations from Delhi to Kolkata and from Mumbai to Dhaka respectively. Everything else is just the way it was in Rajanigandha except of course, the wonderful songs composed by Chowdhury and the cinematography by K. K. Mahajan. Rajanigandha won three Filmfare Awards, was a big hit at the box-office and even fetched Mukesh the National Award for Best Male Playback Singer.

Abhiraj, Riddhima and Firdous put in as much as they can into their roles but cannot salvage the film. The two star-rating is for the three actors who tried their best with the dated script. The director still deserves an applause for sticking to his belief in good cinema, not realising that his definition of good no longer holds true.

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