BOTTOM LINE: Viewers and Calcutta Deserve Much Better!
|Platform: ZEE5/ALTBalaji||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
It’s 1962 and the show’s protagonists Ronobir Chatterjee, Kusum Ganguly and Ratan Bagchi have just joined Calcutta’s most revered medical school. The three are as different as chalk and cheese. Ronobir is not the one for commitment but knows how to win the heart of the women in the college. Kusum is the typical nerd – ambitious, firm about her goals without the slightest hint of distraction – until Ronobir enters her world. Ratan is interested in Kusum, but, to his disappoint, is largely friend-zoned by the latter. A love story between two medicos defies all rules amid the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
Actors always run the risk of hamming in periodic dramas about relationships and the lead cast of this show. that progresses in an extremely soapy tone, is no exception. Naghma Rizwan is guilty of overselling her act with the dramatization in her dialogue delivery and histrionics – the actions of the character and the actor’s headstrong portrayal of the same, work against each other. The stance of the female character itself is problematic and Naghma’s desperation as an actor to justify the same doesn’t help the show.
Karan Kundra’s part is another addition to a list of shows that glorify the problematic man relentlessly. Though the actor makes the Casanova act believable, the poor characterisation plays spoilsport. More spunk in his portrayal could have lent the series a much-needed liveliness and enthusiasm in the proceedings. In an ideal world, Harmanjeet Sinha (as Ratan Bagchi) deserved to have been the protagonist of the series. Though the actor may not have gotten a great chance to perform here, there are some interesting layers in his character that the makers should explore for the next season. Most other supporting actors are mere props, and add little value to the show.
It Happened in Calcutta deserves to be the latest synonym for boredom in the Indian web space. AltBalaji has time and again found excuses to recycle their (rejected?) television soaps in the webisode format and the disregard for the intelligence of the digital medium audience has reflected in their lineup of shows. This is supposedly a periodic romance that can’t differentiate lust from love, where the female protagonist chooses ‘hormonal craving’ over the better man.
It’s completely alright to tell a story through the eyes of a flawed protagonist – but how far would you go to sanitise his image? The protagonist is quite clear about treating women as objects of desire. He’s kicked about the prospect of getting laid with the girls in the college. And he has an NRI girlfriend, a ladder that he uses to settle down in London soon. Before which, he gets the female protagonist Kusum pregnant and doesn’t bother to take responsibility for it too. Returning to India almost a decade later as an established medico, he’s still glorified for his masculine charm. As mind-boggling as it sounds, Kusum still has the hots for him.
Everything about this romance isn’t relatable and the visibly out-of-form director Ken Ghosh makes it hard to care for such characters. The initial sequences that establish Kusum, position her as a woman with identity and one who’s particular about fulfilling her academic priorities. She’s reduced as a pawn in the hands of Ronobir soon. Everything from her college to her career and the assuredness in her characterisation takes a backseat henceforth. A class about anatomy is used as an excuse to glorify Ronobir’s sexual advances. There’s no authenticity in the med-school setting at all.
The detailing with the 60s period too is all over the place – be it the styling of the male characters, the overtly glamorised pop-culture or the over-the-top, jarring costumes. The Indo-Pakistan backdrop is a wasted tool to legitimise the made-up ‘epicness’ in the romance – the amateurish, laughable portrayal of the Indian army, the attacks by the communist groups, Naxalites highlights the indifference among the makers to care for the incident’s historical accuracy.
The same applies to the cholera pandemic that spread in the country in the mid-60s too – the sole objective remains to put the romance of the characters at the forefront and ignore the atmosphere around them. This messy show with two messed up lead protagonists isn’t worthy of anyone’s time. Calcutta deserved better!
Music and Other Departments?
Several music-bits from the show have been rehashed from AltBalaji’s earlier ventures – nothing about the score feels heartfelt. The art director appears to have worked hard on making the frames as lively as possible, without any concern for authenticity in depicting the trends within the timeline. The dialogues are as unimaginative as it can get and the screenplay is a textbook definition of how not to write a web series.
The disregard for historical accuracy
Poor performances by the lead cast
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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