Antaheen, The Endless Wait released in 2009, is a Bengali film directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury (Anuranan). Kolkata is depicted film after film with a delicious range of colors. The filmmakers try to understand what makes the Indian cultural capital an amalgam of cultures and communities so charismatic. Antaheen seems like a clever sociological study of relationships, with moods, moments and characters in a way that will capture the sparkling life.
The characters are warm and vibrant. If you consider the film as a lovely, heartfelt portrayal of Kolkata, then Antaheen capture the public's attention. Nuances and emotions bleed recognizably from the screenplay and dialogues. But when you consider the film as a new age love story, then Antaheen becomes somewhat clumsy and crude, especially because the couple doesn't illuminate the screen with passion.
The two actors have a spontaneity that is disarming, especially Radhika Apte, who offers her best interpretation. The soundtrack is memorable, despite the effervescence of beats, yet it is a film that involves. The script is smart, the narrative is taut with subtle humor, and raw irony. But more than all this, are the performance to support the film, with the silence of Rahul Bose piercing with anger and despair of Radhika Apte.
All those who have seen the film debut of Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Anuranan, remember the director as a new sensitive voice of the Bengali film. Antaheen is a compelling result of this promising debut. It's a more refined work not only for storytelling that describes the urban Indian angst of today but also for photography by Avik Mukhopadhyay reaching levels of pure art.
In contemporary cinema Kolkata rarely seemed so beautiful, so unique, so uber chic. The pressures of feelings, career, loneliness underground tend to a magnificent climax that binds the viewer to the end. Antaheen is a look moody, languorous and extremely artistic life in a big city. The film won the most coveted National Film Awards for best film.
It's worth seeing, especially for Radhika Apte who is proving to be an actress refined. Aparna Sen and Sharmila Tagore ends up being the strong point of the film and gives a really good interpretation. Antaheen is quite different from the latest tollywood hysterical that choke the viewer with their desperate need to make people laugh.
The film does not try to convince you that life is all a laugh. Instead, it creates situations and characters full of warmth that will earn your smile because recognizable and familiar drawing a perfect measured and pleasant realistic refreshing style. The policeman Abhik Chowdhury (Rahul Bose) lives entirely for his work and takes refuge in the world of the Internet. In a chat he hooks up with the television journalist Brinda (Radhika Apte), with whom he builds up a close friendship without knowing who she is.
As the chance to meet each other comes in the real world, as Brinda wants to interview Abhik for a raid against arms smugglers, he teems it off because he has no time. A little later, their paths cross again, because of Abhik's paternal cousin Ranjan (Kalyan Ray), who was once married with Brinda's boss Paromita (Aparna Sen) and are still friends. In fact, Brinda and Abhik understand much better now. As they get closer slowly, Brinda uncovers a potential sensational story.
The title translates as an endless wait. To me the melodrama came before and actually I could dismiss it with a word that, unfortunately, almost covering the entire contemporary Bengali art cinema: yawn. It is sad how a film industry that had produced some of India's finest directors like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak and produced fascinating films even in the 90's now only produces hot air in the name of art cinema with boring melodramas, with characters who sink into self-pity and lament to the world until something happens and will finally dismissed from the movie theater.
Antaheen joins effortlessly into this tradition. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury tells a superficial and deliberately slow-held story without flair or energy. His actors mumble from an action scene to the next and thus not constantly reigns dead silence, a blaring wannabe lounge background music from the speakers. She does unfortunately continuously, even in dialogue scenes. It does not take long until a the earache from this sonic mush. From music used Chowdhury has no idea.
But his dubious talent covers almost all fields of work. There are some really lousy scenes. There are tons of product placement. These are little things, of course. The thin story takes the basic concept from 'The Shop Around the Corner', which was remade as 'You've Got Mail', as a starting idea to avoid all tension and surprise.
The actors may be weak in this material does not develop, although here with veteran Sharmila Tagore, indie poster boy Rahul Bose and Aparna Sen mother of Konkona Sen Sharma and even director talented mimes are at work. They sleepwalk through the film, sipping a glass of wine every few minutes, until a palaver elaborated wiggle your ears - and was not all that already boring enough, Rahul and Radhika Apte sit constantly on their PCs and tap. There are films in little öderes than watching people on the computer. This realization has not yet arrived in Calcutta.
The only one who does not radiate sleepiness in this slow stuff is Kalyan Ray, Aparna Sen's husband in real life. He is inexperienced and therefore plays naturally. The strengths of Antaheen are quickly enumerated. Some nice pictures of Calcutta. The songs and the background music by Shantanu Moitra (Eklavya). And Kalyan Ray. Both the movie and almost all the songs has been chartbusters and run-away hit with 'Ferari Mon', striking a special chord. The music is soulful with inner meaning touchy lyrics.
Everything else oscillates between mediocre and weak. Sometimes all it takes is slowness and the denial of classical entertainment conventions, so that people be persuaded to see something meaty. But it is not the case with Antaheen, which is is superficial cinema with little strength and ideas. The fact that it is slow, does not make it automatically intelligent.