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Film Review - Calcutta Mail

Chitra Parayath

Director: Sudhir Mishra
Starring: Anil Kapoor, Manisha Koirala, Rani Mukherjee, Sayaji Shinde, Saurabh Shukla, Satish Kaushik, Snehal Dabi
Music: Viju Shah/Anand Raaj Anand
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar/Mehboob

Sudhir Mishra, known for dabbling in avant-garde films makes a foray into the commercial arena with Calcutta Mail, and tries to recreate the magic of his earlier hit, the innovative and imaginative Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin.

Adapted loosely from the Telugu film "Choodlani Vundi" starring Chiranjeevi, Calcutta Mail, despite its lofty aspirations makes one want to yell” stop I want to get off this train!” more than once.

Avinash (angry old man Anil Kapoor) arrives in Calcutta carrying a frown and a huge grouch against humanity. Or so it seems. He yells at assorted characters in the film for information on Lakhan Yadav arousing the viewer’s suspicion that Yadav can only be a meanie if the good guy in the film so menacingly seeks him out. In the dirty chawl where Avinash gets instant accommodation, also dwells a chirpy (and downright irritating) liar/writer- in-disguise Bulbul (Rani Mukherjee whose name should have been Bull Bull). When things get rough and tough and too bloody, Bull Bull hastily arranges to sing and dance with the hero in her dreams. Which of course only we are privy to. Oh, puhlease!

When Avinash, stabbed by Yadav (the poor typecast Sayaji Shinde) is nursed back into a fit of flashbacks by Bull Bull , he reminisces about saving his ex, Manisha, from marrying her unscrupulous Politician dad’s (Satish Kaushik) head honcho Yadav. BTW, why are the poor Biharis always portrayed as total bumpkins? How come they don’t boycott these films that perpetuate such stereotypes?

Avinash and Manisha after cooing at each other and singing songs have a cute little boy. Fate intervenes and before we can digest the sweetness of the life they share, Manisha is shot dead (by her father? Her thwarted lover? Who cares?) And the kid has been napped. Kidnapped, I mean.
By this time, most passengers in the theater, at least the ones with any brains would have alighted onto the nearest station and headed home. But the tale goes on. Twists follow twists, trysts are made and unmade and in the end the bad guys perish and the good guys sing a song.

I wish I had a few extra thumbs to point downward!

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