Ekta Kapoor’s latest offering will test the patience of even her most ardent fans, says Nikita Gupta
Set in the 1960s and 70s, It Happened in Calcutta is the love story of Ronobir, a flamboyant and vain playboy, and Kusum, a sweet, simple, girl next door. With a dream of becoming Kolkata’s first female doctor, Kusum joins medical college where she meets Ronobir, falls in love, only to be betrayed by him.
Produced by AltBalaji, the tele-series star of Yeh Kaha Aa Gaye Hum fame, Karan Kundra and newbie Naghma Rizwan play the lead roles. As Ronobir Chatterjee, Karan just about pulls his weight while Naghma Rizwan as Kusum is brilliant. Ivan Rodrigues plays an excellent supporting role as Kusum’s best friend, Dr. Ranjan Dasgupta.
The narrator of the story is our antihero, Ronobir. He takes you through his journey of deceit, where he tries to mask his cheating and adultery with love. This has been a recurring theme in Balaji Productions, where misogyny is subtly glorified and women are turned into pawns after initially suggesting something quite different, viz., that they have agency.
The trailer of the show looked appealing, but the serial fails to live up to its promise. The story is set at the time when India was fighting wars, both externally and internally: on the border with Pakistan and with a cholera epidemic in the cities. If the inspiration for the story was the Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s classic Love in the time of Cholera, the writers clearly haven’t got past the cover.
The cinematography is, to put it politely, a mess. The editing appears to be an afterthought. There is little connection between scenes and so many abrupt cuts that it’s impossible to keep track of what’s going on. The ridiculous recreation of war scenes would make anyone cringe. And there is so much wasted potential. The story is set in truly momentous times, the birth of Bangladesh amidst unprecedented carnage and a massive refugee crisis, but the writers seem to be blissfully unaware of any of this.
Nor has any effort been put into recreating the period with either sincerity or care, whether it’s the sets or the costumes – though one must admit they’re beautiful. Or for that matter the language. A few words like dada and ki used repetitively are supposed to persuade you that that the story set in Bengal.
In fact, it would appear the writers haven’t put much thought into writing the script or the dialogues. It’s just a conventional love story and has little of the edge or daring as promised by the trailer. In truth, it’s a typically vacuous Ekta Kapoor potboiler but, thankfully, with a limited number of episodes.
When Ekta Kapoor launched AltBalaji, in an interview she said, “ALTBalaji’s shows will open new world of home-grown differentiated entertainment to the viewers with the best stories and artists.” According to her, ALT was an idea to break-away from Balaji’s same routine of dramas and add creativity to the content.
It looks like they have failed considerably at their commitment to the audience with ‘It happened in Calcutta’.
The music is pedestrian and some of the soundtrack is shamelessly recycled from old Balaji productions such as Dil Hi Toh Hai. Music has always been Balaji Productions’ strong point, but even that’s gone missing here. It Happened in Calcutta is an easy watch if you switch off your brain. The show comprises ten episodes or about a three-hour-long binge watch.
Image Credits: The Indian Express