Janala – Bengali Movie Review

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At the centre of Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Janala (Window) is a young couple, Bimal (Indraneil Sengupta) and Meera (Swastika Mukherjee) who decide to get married upon learning that Meera’s pregnant. Bimal and Meera are very much in love and can’t look beyond each other.

Bimal, who works as a caretaker at an old age home, transforms when he visits his childhood school. Recalling the sweet memories of his childhood as he walks through the dilapidated building, Bimal is saddened by the state of his alma mater. While looking at the broken window from which he looked into his future that promised to be as exciting as the geography lessons his ears caught, Bimal is fraught with the desire to do something for the place he grew up. Even though he isn’t financially stable and with his marriage around the corner Bimal decides to donate a window to the school.

From that moment onwards in his desperate bid to do something meaningful Bimal alienates himself from his very existence; he skips work, withdraws a better part of his savings from his joint account with Meera and looks at nothing beyond the ornate design of the window. Bimal returns to his school with the window but the school staff refuses to accept a meaningless gift. With the help of a sweet truck driver Bimal tries to find a place that would ‘accept’ his gift but is unable to find a wall for his window.

Almost like a fable, Janala operates on a range of metaphors and has it’s moments but they are very rare and in between. The metaphors that the screenplay ends up relying on become a tad overbearing beyond a point and with important characters like Meera remaining the same throughout the film Janala becomes a tedious watch. The characters in Janala are straight out of the life and while this makes them look real they feel incomplete as most of them operate in extreme blacks or whites.

Indraneil Sengupta’s arresting presence and loyalty to the character make Bimal the fulcrum of the film. Even though Bimal is the best defined character of the film Sengupta brings in the extra bit to better Bimal.

Janala’s screenplay leaves Meera grasping for air very early on and much like the script Swastika Mukherjee too makes no real effort to make Meera stand out.

One of the biggest problems with Janala is how Dasgupta handles Meera. Bimal is a dreamer who prefers to live in the idea of how the past could have been better and even though he is planning a new life with Meera, he can’t help but remain distant. Meera, on the other hand only dreams of a future that she is committed to making beautiful and happy. Meera never dissuades Bimal beyond a point in his quest to something nice for his school but once Bimal decides to go ahead with the plans of getting the window made he starts creating a void between them and Meera just doesn’t do anything. There are instances when Bimal doesn’t answer his phone for two days and even then Meera just doesn’t do anything. This drift between them could have been explored better or could have been used to add some resonance to Meera’s character.

Janala is a bitter-sweet tale of what’s happening in the heart of our country. Dasgupta’s imagery transports us into the place where the heart of this story lies but once he takes us there we end up looking for the heart which seems to be missing.

Janala Rating: 2/5

Janala Cast: Indraneil Sengupta and Swastika Mukherjee

Janala Written and Directed by: Buddhadeb Dasgupta

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