Monday, February 13, 2006

Film Review: 15th Park Avenue

I have to say this: Konkona Sen rocks. Be it her choice of movies or her impeccable performances, she just absolutely rocks. She does it yet again in Aparna Sen's (for whom she seems to reserve her best performances) '15th Park Avenue'.

The movie narrates the tale of young Meethi, who suffers from schizophrenia, and the attempts of her family (Shabana Azmi and Waheeda Rehman) to deal with her care. It is a remarkable attempt, for the term is often misused by our directors (for instance, Bachchan was supposed to be schizophrenic in Vipul Shah's otherwise rather decent 'Aankhen') - the director deserves to be lauded for the amount of research she has put into the subject, and the way it has been deftly executed. The finale' of the movie was just grand - not too many of our movies are open-ended, and this one was remarkably so.

The performances are extremely good, but then with Shabana Azmi and Konkona Sen leading the cast, one expected no less. I have felt for some time that Shabana is repeating her characters too often for comfort - I mean, too many of her recent roles have her beginning as a stern, withdrawn and misunderstood character, only to break down eventually and show us her human frailties through the course of the movie (Fire, Tehzeeb and Morning Raaga, to name but just a few). Of course, she does it remarkably well, but shouldn't an actor of her stature and ability experiment more, I wonder (like Naseer and Om Puri do to so much success). Konkona, of course, is relatively a new face, and her performance is all the more refreshing for it. Meethi comes across as vulnerable and extremely endearing. Her delusional scenes are extremely well-rendered.

Aparna Sen is in fine nick after 'Mr and Mrs Iyer' here. A couple of scenes really stood out for me - the open-ended climax was one, of course (I mean, a possible interpretation was that it was Shabana who was delusional, for chrissakes). The another scene was a tiny one, but the dynamics between the different family members spoke volumes. It was a simple family scene, where Meethi is making a spectacle of herself (as disabled family members are wont to do often) and all of her family reacts differently. The elder sister is irriated, but tried to cover it up by being condescending to Meethi (who of course senses it and is irritated). The mother is ashamed, but has a weariness about her - as if she has seen it all before. The brother, perhaps in a bid to make the best of the situation, tries to joke about the whole thing, and his kids join in ribbing Meethi (this is a scene that is a tad too close for comfort, unfortunately). There is quite a bit of tension in the air, and the actors convey it beautifully.

I recommend this movie whole-heartedly. So far, IMO, this is the best Indian movie of 2005.


Shruthi said...

That was a good review - unfortunately not watched it yet!

Ranjit Nair said...

Thx. Catch 'it' if you can ;).

Anonymous said...

hi, I would agree with all that u said, coz i have seen the movie three times by now and its indeed a master piece.
it not only covers her reality, but enables us to see some parts of ourselves. ur review covers it well

Ranjit Nair said...

Thx Anon.