Despite Satyam Bhattacharya and Shantilal Mukherjee’s efforts, the web series falters because of a lack of imagination
Story: Elina (Puja Banerjee) – a celebrated Cabaret dancer at Moulin Rouge – has a grim past. Palash (Satyam Bhattacharya) – a Naxal revolutionary – poses as a waiter. Both of them work under Mr Shah (Shantilal Mukherjee) – a shrewd businessman in 1970s Kolkata. Elina and Palash fall in love.
Review: What could have been an intense drama capturing the ’60s and ’70s Calcutta falls flat due to stereotypes, overuse of cliches, and basically, lack of imagination. The problem, as usual, lies in writing. It uses all the known tropes of that period and fails to deliver anything authentic.
Even the name of the bar, Moulin Rouge, when all the drama unfolds, is an overused proper noun. If this is a work of fiction, then why can’t it be a fresh name? Moreover, it is almost laughable the way the Naxals are projected in the show. The way they address themselves, lay out their plans, and execute their activities in the show feels like a bunch of sophomores going on a rebellious spree. According to many historians, the Naxalite movement was dotted with young impulsive actions. But what we see here is far from reality.
In fact, portraying the journey of a Cabaret dancer is equally cliched. A young talented girl travels to a big city to save her family from abject poverty, gets betrayed, and ends up choosing a life as a dancer. Familiar much? Bollywood and the Bengali film industry are flooded with characters like her. Where is the novelty?
The good thing is Cabaret is not your usual TV serial-like drawing-room drama. It has a cherishable retro vibe. The makers use vintage footage of Kolkata to depict the period. The double-decker buses, trams, and clear skyline of Kolkata have added a bit of authenticity to the show. In fact, the costumes and interiors are also convincing. The background score is a plus but the songs are not.
Also read: Puja Banerjee on Cabaret: As an actor, this script demands the best of you
Another attraction of the show is the performance of Satyam and Shantilal, especially the former one. Satyam sparks as soon as he enters and makes sure to carry his charm throughout. Shantilal does his job well. He is convincing as an unimpressive, money-minded businessman. Puja looks glamorous on the screen. Her performance, however, on the other hand, is not consistent. In some scenes, especially in her de-glam avatar, she is amazing. In her glamorous bit, she falters.
Verdict: Despite Satyam Bhattacharya and Shantilal Mukherjee’s efforts, the web series falters because of a lack of imagination. Watch it for the actors. Also, it has a different flavour from the usual run-of-the-mill family drama we get to watch on the Bengali platforms. Give it a shot!