Take One: Film Review

Rating: ★★1/2
Verdict: A patchwork of retakes.
For one, Mainak Bhaumik’s noteworthy attempt to showcase the underlying hypocrisy in the minds of common man is a plus point. He also chooses a story that draws parallels between the life of Sita and his protagonist Doel Mitra. Yet, Take One is from the kitty of films that fail in realizing their potential in the journey from script to screen.

Filmmaker Mainak, whose 2013 release Maach Mishti and More (Fish, sweets and more) awakened to cheers from audiences, directs a story that speaks about the ownership of sexuality of a woman and her right to the choices that she makes. Actress Doel Mitra’s footage from a film is leaked and goes viral on the net. There is public outrage while Doel balances tumultuous situations in a messed-up relationship and as a single parent back home.

Swastika Mukherjee has impressed audiences with versatility in her past films and with Take One she does it again. The film does have an individualistic voice, which quickly simmers down because of a repetitive track that starts getting in the way of the screenplay. Many of the scenes look like clones of past Bollywood releases Fashion and The Dirty Picture. However, what saves the film from lagging further is Bengali actress Swastika Mukherjee’s ease in carrying the aura of a star. She wonderfully portrays the duality in the life of an actress who sports the glam on the outside, while being ripped apart from within. Not only does Doel Mitra face opposition from a double standard society, but is also shown arguably appealing to her mother-in-law for her daughter’s custody.

The film is victim to a heavy dose of pretence. The dialogues are delivered with a weird English accent. A mother-daughter relationship evolves but never makes the viewer feel the warmth. Post interval, the dialogues exchanged between Doel Mitra and her daughter sound like call centre diction grooming classes, where you twist your lip and roll your tongue to Americanize all that’s Indian (or in this case, Bong).

The director’s attempt at making a film to draw analogy between Sita and his female puppet works well. The cinematography and editing is average with most of the film shot in a sepia tone. We are exposed to montages of Doel performing Sita’s role on stage, while she herself is prey to the institution’s double-standard culture. 

As the film reaches climax, Doel is acknowledged for her work at international festivals, and a sudden change of perception runs through the streets of Kolkata. Towards the end, Take One is tiring to consume yet never completely leaves you sour. For film aficionados and general viewing audiences, Take One stays as a reminder of a product with strength and potential being lost in execution. An increment in the take no on Mainak’s clap board could leave the film from running into a loop of repetition. Take Two, perhaps!

Why should you watch this film?

Two reasons:
1) Swastika Mukherjee’s performance 
2) If Bengali with a sprinkle of accent makes you sense pride.

By Soham Bhattacharyya

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