'Three Obsessions': Goa Film Bazaar Review

Teenkahon THREE OBSESSIONS Still - H 2014
Courtesy of A Little Lambs Film Production

Teenkahon THREE OBSESSIONS Still - H 2014

An edgy trio of Bengali tales introduces a talented new filmmaker

A bouquet of love stories salutes Indian cinema in three intense moods

A pleasing triptych of morbid love stories, the Bengali film Three Obsessions (Teenkahon) looks modern even while casting an affectionate glance backward at other periods in Indian cinema. Showing off a surprising stylistic range, director Bauddhayan Mukerji, who comes from the world of TV commercials, couples entertaining stories with sophisticated themes.   

There is a tip of the hat to India’s Technicolor Seventies and the cruel action cinema of current-day Bollywood, but the jewel of this striking first feature is a balmy salute to Satyajit Ray.  Not surprisingly, it already has a busy dance card at festivals, and the story-telling is strong and original enough to find its way to paying audiences with careful handling.

The first episode, “Boy Meets Girl”, shows off Mukerji’s talent to greatest advantage in a beautiful but perverse tale that stylistically touches the feet of the master Ray. Set in a timeless Bengali village and shot in black and white, Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay’s short story is an older poet’s tale of his devastating first love. He is just a boy when newly wed Nayantara (a calmly charming Ananya Sen) arrives in his village and it’s love at first sight. Becoming a letter-carrier and go-between between the girl and her beloved buffoon of a husband, he succumbs to the delicious pangs of unrequited love, which will leave permanent scars. The delicacy of the story-telling captures the supernatural antiquity of the village and the young poet’s egotism in an achingly resonant work.

“Boy Loses Girl” is based on a story by Syed Mustafa Siraj which might have been a stage play. Taking place in one room during a downpour that turns into a physical and emotional flood, it describes the tense encounter between a blasé  ladies’ man (Joy Sengupta) and a tormented husband (a wonderfully scraggly Sabyasachi Chakraborty) who demands the former assume his responsibility for the suicide of the woman they both loved. If the first story is timeless, there is something seriously passé about this one, echoed in its musty claustrophobia and déjà vu scripting.

The director himself wrote the conclusive, high-energy “Boy Gets Girl”, an ironic, rather repulsive tale kept afloat with black humor.  Bollywood actor Ashish Vidyarthi plays a pompous police chief married to the bitchy Anamika (Bengali star Rituparna Sengupta). Their marriage is childless and in shambles when his path crosses that of a femme fatale. One can admire the bold playfulness here and the way Mukerji deftly keeps sympathy with the policeman by showing him as a man in love, but the shocking pay-off feels a bit facile.

All the stories benefit from the attentive production and costume design of Malay Bhattacharya and Monalisa Mukerji  (the latter also produced.) Cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay has a versatile understanding of mood, and his black and white work on the first tale is a true standout.

Production company: Little Lamb Films
Rituparna Sengupta, Ashish Vidyarthi, Joy Sengupta, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Ananya Sen, Barshan Seal, Bishwanath Bose
Director: Bauddhayan Mukherji

Screenwriters: Bauddhayan Mukerji, Abhinandan Banerjeebased on short stories by Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay, Syed Mustafa Siraj,Mukherji
Producer: Monalisa Mukerji
Executive producer: Kedhhar Barrve
Director of photography: Avik Mukhopadhyay

Production designers: Malay Bhattacharya, Monalisa Mukerji
Costume designer: Monalisa Mukerji
Editor: Arghayakamal Mitra
Music: Arnab Chakraborty
Sales Agent: 108 Media Corp.

No rating, 124 minutes