‘Incomplete’: Film Review | IFFLA 2017
Suman Mukhopadhyay’s sixth feature considers romantically challenged millennials and their overlapping relationships.
A pre-midlife crisis occasioned by a creeping sense of bewilderment and remorse besets a single young professional from Kolkata in Suman Mukhopadhyay's Incomplete. Examining familiar relationship issues without much originality or conviction, this overly long feature will struggle to break out beyond the international festival circuit, except perhaps on scattered digital platforms.
Chronically indecisive, mid-30s Indrajit (Ritwick Chakraborty) has managed to drift into adulthood with few commitments. On holiday in the Himalayan foothills to visit Moloy (Bratya Basu), he finds his university friend ensconced in a small cottage among his overflowing shelves of books, wrapped in blankets to ward of the chill of mountain mists that frequently wrap around the house. Although Moloy's marriage to Tuki (Swastika Mukherjee) makes his life appear more substantive, he's hardly any happier than Indrajit, indulging in frequent verbal battles with his wife and consuming whiskey nearly nonstop.
As Indrajit settles in for his stay, he's troubled by a distinct sense of awkwardness, but after the long journey from Kolkata he's at least temporarily stranded in the isolated town. Once he recovers from his travels, Indrajit begins wandering aimlessly around the surrounding area, as much to pass the time as to escape the tense atmosphere at Moloy's. More than once he comes across Tuki in the company of different local men and wonders about her commitment to Moloy.
But he's soon distracted by a dilemma of his own when runs into his former university girlfriend Mitun (Paoli Dam), who's visiting town with her husband Subrata (Anindya Banerjee) and his sister Sanatani (Poulomi Das). Mitun's happy marriage not only provides a stark contrast to Tuki and Moloy's constant bickering, but also reminds Indrajit about his decision to abandon his engagement to Mitun years earlier. As playfully vivacious Sanatani begins to show some interest, Indrajit considers whether his prior indecisiveness has perhaps led him to a crisis of romantic faith and whether there's still time to salvage his own fate going forward.
Adapting Sirshendu Mukherjee's novel, writer-director Mukhopadhyay strikes a subdued tone that's more reflective than inherently dramatic. Typically mopey Indrajit makes for a rather uninspired protagonist, whose constant self-pity is only exceeded by his self-absorption. He's so off-putting that it's not hard to understand why he remains stubbornly single as he pursues an unrealistic ideal of female perfection while he's so fundamentally flawed himself. Chakraborty's phlegmatic performance is consistent with the character's habitual emotional detachment, but it doesn't do much to enliven the narrative.
What's more difficult to grasp is how Indrajit suddenly finds himself surrounded by beautiful, sympathetic women, like some privileged character in a Fellini film, once he reaches the hilltop town. Tuki in particular reveals herself as a smart, sensitive woman trapped in a bitter, loveless marriage, a dilemma that Swastika Mukherjee's understated interpretation eloquently reveals, but Mukhopadhyay's script undercuts the character too frequently to convey much sympathy.
The small ensemble cast and well-contained locations don't provide too many technical challenges and Mukhopadhyay lenses the proceedings with a consistently functional style that's almost as inconsequential as his unremarkable protagonist.
Production company: AVA Films Production
Cast: Ritwick Chakraborty, Swastika Mukherjee, Paoli Dam, Bratya Basu, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Santu Mukherjee, Anindya Banerjee, Poulomi Das
Director-writer: Suman Mukhopadhyay
Producer: Pawan Kanodia
Executive producer: Gautam Mridha
Director of photography: Gopi Bhagat
Editor: Saurav Sarangi
Music: Debojyoti Mishra
Venue: Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
Not rated, 120 minutes