A chance meeting of a sales executive and a struggling filmmaker on a train journey becomes the starting point of CharDiker Galpo. Their casual conversationgraduallytakes the shape of the sales executive narrating stories that are either written by him or are real-life incidents that he knows. These stories become the four short stories that make the film Char Diker Galpo. It is quite clear that what Director Pranabesh Chandra wants most is to tell stories – absorbing stories that will connect with people and recreate the flavour of once-upon-a-time Bengali films that were rich with potent tales to tell.

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The four stories vary thematically, but aretonally connected, all being tales of pain and despair.A hapless clay and stone craftsman, a struggling actor desperate for a break, a village Tonga driver and afisherman’s adolescent daughter, all four encounter dejection, loss or compromise. The craftsman’s work is being usurped in the name of miracle and religion. The Tonga driver loses his wife and goes into a deep despair while trying to serve his feudal master. The adolescent girl who runs the seaside make-shift food place is slapped and wrongfully accusedof being a thief. But eventually, she and her father have to make a compromise for the sake of their livelihood. The struggling actor ends up helping a newcomer from the suburbs find her first break. In the end, nothing is left for him on his own platter, but this does not make him disconsolate. He keeps living in his castle in the clouds, buoyed up with his own sense of humanity. Here perhaps is that glimmer of hope which the film tries to project.

There is no organic connection between the stories to really hold them together, apart from the thread of sorrow and dejection running through the narratives. The overarching narrative frame of the chance encounter of the struggling director and the sales executive in a train compartment remains completely dissociated from the stories that unfold. In fact, one couldhave completely done without this outer structure, leaving the film with four different shorts.

The format of stories being told separately through four short films definitely calls for praise. Though occasionally erratic, the film’s stories are palpably honest in their simplicity and the attempted cinematic methodologies. However, one finds it hard not to notice the lack of a proper sense of mounting that has become so relevant to film releases nowadays. Audiences out for a Bengali-film, evening might have a brush with stories filled with genuine pathos, but if they are looking for a cozy, sleek eveninglaced with fizz and corn, then this might not be the right film for them.

Uro Khoi
Uro Khoi is a casual banterer with reference to cinema. You can take him seriously or just pass him off as an exhibitionist. The choice is yours!

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