Pratighat, a cliched love story of a gangster who hopes to tear away from his past, makes for an insufferable watch
When a gangster rescues a woman in distress, they end up in a relationship. But his past threatens to wreck their relationship.
Pratighat is a hat tip to the cliched 90s masala Hindi films where every turn seems only too inevitable and assorted baddies yell out their dialogues to compensate for their lack of steam. And sometimes, these lines roll off their tongues while their head is framed by a tyre suspended in the air for additional impact. It was a painful passage of time to suffer those sappy and insufferable flicks then and it continues to inflict the same pain even today. In fact, it’s the kind of watch that borders on self-harm. If only enduring such a film would account as penance for all your past and present sins, sitting through this cinematic excrement would be to some end.
Some Bengali films seem to be clinging to that dusted mould of drafting an invincible hero who may be a sidekick to the most vicious villain to ever grace the big screen, but under his rugged exterior, beats a heart of gold. Our lead, Chandu (Soham Chakraborty) is no different. He’s the trusted aide of Suleiman bhai, a kohl-eyed baddie who has his fingers dipped in every nefarious business known to man and Chandu happens to be his Man Friday.
When Chandu chances upon Puja (Priyanka Sarkar), who literally collapses in front of him on the road, he can’t hold back and reaches out to help. Soon, she’s moved in with him and is stuffing him with aloo parathas. It’s evident where this is going and the subsequent turns seem to be a product of a jaded imagination.
What passes for dialogue in this film could range from cringe-worthy to downright dull. When Suleiman is petting his kittenish companion/vamp Nilufer, perched on a couch next to him, he says, “Nilufer, today, you’re looking very beautiful.” To this, she claps back, saying, “And what about other days?” But there are scenes when the makers possibly felt they’ve killed it with the analogies. Especially the scene where we find the mightly Suleiman bhai pondering over the right man for a particularly tricky job. “Sometimes Allah also needs a Messiah,” he mutters, alluding to his chief goon, Chandu.Chakraborty has a filmography packed with forgettable feature films and can’t be held accountable for just this debacle alone. What works in his favour is the fact that there’s an audience for such films too and they’d actually be disappointed if this film were to stray from the tried and tested formula, let alone attempt to surprise them. That said, he tries to lend some dignity to his character, but when the material plunges south, so does his performance. Sarkar who plays the damsel in distress actually had a layered character but her screentime doesn’t alter this film’s fate and it doesn’t help that she reads out her lines in a sedated style. The film also features cameos by Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Darshana Banik, but both would want to erase this cinematic blot from their filmography.
Pratighat is reminiscent of those tacky 90s flicks when the hero has to be nudged by his friends over a night of debauchery to realise and accept that he’s in love. “Eta prem (this is love),” a sozzled friend points out in this film. If this is indeed love, we’d prefer hate any day.