Utsab: A family drama by maestro Rituparno Ghosh that captured the best of Durga Pujo

Durga Pujo is here. But this year things are not the same. The festive fervor is dull with faces covered by masks. The terror of losing one’s life is not only killing the mood but taking away millions of livelihoods.

In such a time, The Hyderabad Review has decided to re-introduce some of the best pieces of film and literature that will lift your soul from all that’s gloomy.

Pujo is an indispensable part of every Bengali’s life. Whether they are abroad or in the busy streets of Kolkata, the goddess calls upon their hearts every year magically to offer respect to her.

The film I am writing about is a masterpiece of the legendary director Rituparno Ghosh. Released exactly 20 years ago in 2000, Utsab is a story of a family that comes together every year in their ancestral Rajbari(Palace) to celebrate Durga Pujo. The word Utsab means festival which is a very apt title that Ghosh chose for his film as the film revolves around Pujo.

As per the plot, the characters comprise Bhagbati (Madhabi Mukherjee) who has four children; two sons Asit (Pradip Mukherjee), Nishit (Bodhisattva Mazumdar), and two daughters, Parul (Mamata Shankar) and Keya (Rituparna Sengupta). It is the festival time and all the children are at the house to celebrate the festival. Meanwhile, Shishir, (Deepankar De) a relative who is also a big real estate agent, is interested to buy the house. Most of the family members agree to do so. The old and traditional house does not interest anyone anymore and the members have individual problems to solve with the money, they might receive from selling it.

The movie represents the undying efforts of an entire community to hold on to its ancestry yet failing to do so with the advent of modernity. This is symbolic of the year 2000 itself which marked a new millennial era of vulnerable society. Only the goddess is constant in the entire film through which the characters pass by with their memories of Pujo.

Ghosh is unconventional and so are his films, Utsab being one of them. Though it is a family drama, it is very blunt when it comes to showing the complexity of relationships. There is no filter for the hypocrisy, pain, love, and identity crisis that the story holds. At a time when Barjatiya’s films were a hit, Ghosh was bold enough to show incest. His experiments didn’t just end there. He incorporated feminism, extramarital affairs, and domestic abuse, all in a subtle and natural manner, leaving the audience with lingering thoughts.

A brewing romance between first cousins Joy, Parul’s son, and Shompa, Nishit’s daughter, created a huge hue and cry among the critics post the film’s release.

Each of the characters exposed their vulnerabilities in the film. The family’s favorite daughter Parul confessed about her pathetic marriage. The second son Nishit disclosed that he had been laid off from his high-flying corporate job and the youngest daughter Keya came clean about her husband Arun’s alcoholism and their consequent financial distress. All the revelations were already shown as a premonition through various actions of the characters in the plot’s course.

Nothing is unnatural about the film or its narration and characters. Indian society is in denial of accepting things that do not conform to standards but that doesn’t change the reality.

If you haven’t watched the film yet, this is the best time to grab some popcorn/jhalmuri and get cozy in front of your home theatres.



Ratched Netflix: A Wretched Series That Fails To Strike Chords As A Prequel


Based on the character of a Nurse, Ratched Netflix, from the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and from the Saat Zaentz Company motion picture of the same name, the Netflix web series has been hugely disappointing.

As pointed out by many, the protagonist doesn’t match the character it has been preaching to portray. Ratched is more like a B grade psychological thriller or horror film like American Horror Story though the latter could be rated far better.

Spanned over 8 episodes, Ratched is played by Sarah Paulson, an Emmy and Golden Globe awardee. Yet it is unclear if it was a fault on part of the director Ryan Murphy or Paulson herself that she failed to show the true motive as the lead. Even if you try hard, you will still miss on the plot as all you can see is psycho sex scenes and gory imagery all across the season. You don’t really know what’s going on in their heads. In a few scenes, Ratched sleeps with an assassin and recollects absurd things, which is way hard to comprehend even if it is evident that she is mentally unstable. Clearly it is hard to square this Mildred Ratched with the Nurse Ratched she’s supposedly the precursor to.

Moreover, the plot fails to do justice to the portrayal of psychopaths as well. Finn Wittrock who played Edmund Tolleson in the series appears unconvincing although it is visible that he has done his bit to appear as a serial killer.

The series failed because of these major characters yet all other characters acted very fine. Be it Judy Davis as Nurse Bucket, Cynthia Nixon as Briggs, Jon Jon Briones as Dr. Hanover, I found each doing a wonderful job. But perhaps their part was all in vain as the leads failed to drag the story.

Besides this, the portrayal of taboo over same-sex relationships deeming it as madness that needs to be treated prevalent in the 1940s is also strong and commendable imagery that has been shown in the series.

Another good thing apart from the supporting actors is the set of the series and also the costumes. One can only drool over the precision. But like they say – “All that glitters is not Gold.”

In my opinion, don’t waste your time watching it. I rate it 2 out of 5 stars.


Enola Holmes: A Fresh Gust of Wind that Replaces Age-Old Male Detectives

Enola Holmes

Enola Holmes, sister of Sherlock Holmes on the way to be a world-famous detective like her brother is all the film about. Yet there is more to the film than what meets the eyes.

The literary and cinematic trend of retelling stories from the perspective of a character other than the original protagonist of a bestseller has gained quite a popularity these days. The same has been followed in the very plot of the film. While detectives have been largely portrayed as men by authors, Nancy Springer, the original book series writer, decided to bring forth a female detective who could trick any man with her wits. And she chose Sherlock Holmes as the backdrop. Who on earth would have imagined that the famous fictional detective had such a happening family other than Springer who brought them to us.

Enola has humor, knowledge, intelligence, physical strength, and everything that a woman in the 19th century could only dream to have. She is a misfit amongst the ladies of her time embodying a glimpse of the female movement that started during the period in England. Thanks to her mother, Eudoria Holmes played by Bonham Carter, the matriarch (a single mother) of the Holmes family who trains her to emerge as a fierce feminist.

I was completely taken aback by Millie Bobby Brown as Enola. Playing the weird super-kid has perhaps become her favorite prototype since she stunned us earlier with a similar role in Stranger Things. What I found most entertaining and humorous in the film are the monologues by Millie aka Enola. I have a funny feeling that Millie is going to be the upcoming female superstar in Hollywood just the way Emma Watson did – from Hermoine to Belle. I want to watch more of Millie Bobby Brown in the coming days and I am sure even you will after you watch the film.


Though Millie is the protagonist, all the female eyes have been caught by Sherlock Holmes played by Henry Cavill. This man is just too hot to handle and has played Sherlock so rightly. His chemistry as a brother to Millie is just amazing. There’s news that Henry is going to play James Bond in upcoming Netflix ventures. Fingers crossed.


Coming to Bonham Carter, largely known for playing Lestrange in Harry Potter films, she has yet again chosen a script that matches the crazy lady prototype. Only this time, she is not exactly evil but whimsical to bring a revolution. The inclusion of characters like these is commendable as misfits badly need to find a fit amongst the stereotypes who otherwise judge the whole time.


If you feel that I’m missing out the guy Enola fell for, chuck it. She deserves better and she knew it right from the beginning. I couldn’t find anything striking about his performance either.

I would rate the film 4.5/5 with a deduction of 0.5 for Sam Claflin as Mycroft Holmes, the eldest of the three children. I did not find Sam to be doing justice to his role. He could have been a bit more grave and strict to match the description of the character.

Director Harry Bradbeer recently mentioned that he made the film for little ‘fleabags’, referring to the award-winning series by the same name. He rightly said so as he connects wonderfully with women who are judged every day by the patriarchal world out there.

More sequels to this film, please!