Suman Mukhopadhyay's Asomapto (2016) centres around 36-year old Indrajit's (Ritwick Chakraborty) visit to the hills (probably somewhere in Darjeeling) in a bid to rediscover his childhood. He plans to stay at his old friend Moloy's (Bratya Basu) house, who is a college professor and lives with his wife Suchismita (nickname: Tuki) (Swastika Mukherjee). Indrajit was the witness when their marriage took place many years ago, but this time around, he has to witness a marriage characterized by vitriol. He also stumbles upon his old flame Mitun (Paoli Dam), who is visiting the place with her husband (Anindya Banerjee) and sister-in-law Sanatani (Poulomi Das). There's also the mysterious coolie/ tea garden labour whom he seems to recognize from somewhere back in Kolkata.
This eclectic cast of characters, besides a few more, makes the quiet, foggy hills rumble and sparkle. To the director's credit, he does not use flashback shots, which helps the viewer to stay in the present and view the past only through the lenses of the present. The storm and tension between the characters is in sharp contrast with the calm of the hills and the quiet of nature, which by the way, are shot beautifully. The camera often seems to glide over the slopes, the flowing water and the roads, with gentle caresses. In atmosphere and feel, Asomapto is reminiscent of Satyajit Ray's Kanchenjungha (1962), which in itself is a certificate of how well the film works. Gradually, we discover the depths and rises of the characters, the emotions that lie buried in their pasts, beneath their surfaces.
A few scenes could have been knit in more tightly, but overall it's a fine piece of work with a meandering pace of its own. Speaking of performances, Ritwick is effortlessly good as one expects of him, Swastika plays her part to a tee and Bratya Basu is amazing. The best scenes of the film are those involving two or all of these three. Among the tertiary characters, Sanatani stood out for me, in a silky-smooth act by Poulomi Das.
Conclusion: Watch it for the performances and the hills. I watched it on Netflix but I figure it would look quite gorgeous and absorbing on the big screen.
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