If you’ve seen Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express (1994), one of the things that you can never forget is, California Dreamin’ playing in the background.
And if you like this song, you’re sure to take notice of Prague, which has a rather unpopular cast and crew.
Unfortunately for Prague, the chances of an audience succumbing to judging a film that isn’t associated with big names from the ‘industry’ is more, and this is likely to happen as you watch the film.
Prague tries to do too many things at a time.
Initially, it comes across as a film that is a biography of those ordinary people that get lost in the crowd. This, for one has been done with artistic finish and is one of the highlights of the film. The cinéma vérité technique of filming has been used extensively in the film. This technique was used in Dev D as well. Incidently, Ashish Shukla(director) was involved with this project.
The other thing that the film displays is the beauty and attractiveness of the character Elena (Elena Kazan). Elena, has done a far better job than her performance in Agent Vinod and John Day.
Another thing that the film excessively revels in, is in projecting the beauty of Prague. What’s also pleasing, is the way in which the love blossoming between Elena and Chandan is captured, in the beautiful city that Prague is.
What is somewhat annoying is how the film unnecessarily indulges in making references to Bengali culture. The protagonist of the film, Chandan(Chandan Roy Sanyal), plays the role of a Bengali man, yet this doesn’t justify the various passing references made to this culture.
Apart from this boo-boo, the film gives out a random piece of information on how the gypsies that settled in Prague were actually Indians.
The film is like a mash-up of Fight Club and A Beautiful Mind. It is indeed sacrilegious to say this, but I don’t mean it in a good way, as Prague in it’s attempt to be inspired from them, apes them shamelessly.
The movie explores Chandan’s life in various chapters and phases. Chandan Roy Sanyal as Chandan, steals the show with his brilliant performance. Chandan was last seen in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey and in Nikhil Advani’s D-Day.
To cut a long story short, Ashish R. Shukla who debuts as director with this film, has tried to do too many things in too little time. Shukla hasn’t made a bad film, but his execution isn’t particularly tailor-made for Indian audiences.